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Now that I am an adult and way, way past an impressionable age there are certain things I don’t give a damn about anymore. I have spent too much of my life worrying about things and people which should not even have mattered in the first place.

Take it from me guys, perfection is overrated. All the perfect people I know are exhausted. Exhausted from trying too hard and all the time. And if you consider yourself a perfect person and would like to counter argue that you are not exhausted, girl, you’re just lying to yourself.

So, following are a few of the things which I can’t even, anymore:

  1. I do not give a damn about approval

Been there and done that. Anyone’s approval is not on the priority list anymore. For the longest time in my life I worried too much about what others said about me or how they saw me. And now for the first time ever, it doesn’t even matter. The opinions of others can stay there: with others.

  1. I do not give a damn about professional development

There is no way you can shame me for not working while raising kids. There is no way you can make me feel less about myself for not wanting to be any more than I already am. I am doing what I think is essential for me and my family. Just because you are “raising two wonderful kids while working” does not mean I aspire to be you. I will do me, now and forever.

  1. I do not give a damn about not giving a damn about myself

Confused? Holla at me if this sounds familiar, “Now that I am a mom, I so do not have the time for myself.” No. Sorry. Now that I am a mom, I SO need to find time for myself to recoup my sanity and strength. My family thrives as long as their mama thrives. If I hate all the extra pounds I have put on I am going to do something about it instead of complaining about time and “all those responsibilities”. You have to feel good about yourself, first.

Repeat after me, “I.will.find.time.for.me.today.”

  1. I do not give a damn if you do not give a damn

Ten years ago I was the girl who would have cried bitter tears over being ignored by a friend. I would have gone to her and asked her for an explanation and then almost always followed that with an apology, my fault or not. However, I do not give a damn about you if you do not give a damn about me. Sacrificing my own emotions and peace of mind for the sake of someone else’s pettiness is something I do not have the time for anymore. Neither do I have the energy to find time for it. So if you call it quits, it’s history. No questions asked.

  1. I do not give a damn about your superiority complex

You are a gourmet chef? Good for you. You have a career and well behaved kids? Kudos to you. You have a spotless house, design your own dresses and bake cakes from scratch? More power to you. If you think, even for a minute, that this would impress me or spiral me down the tunnel of an inferiority complex you have got it all wrong. Gone are the days when your ‘skills’ would make me feel horrific about my own useless state of affairs and being. I am not perfect and proud of it. I am real and that is all that matters.

  1. I do not give a damn about impressions

If I am successful in my career it is because I chose to follow my passion and made something of myself. If I am doing good in school, motherhood, wife-hood or life in general it is because I poured my sweat and blood into it and moulded it into something I’d be proud of. But I do not do it for impressions or for recognition. It comes from the heart and that is liberating.

Are there things which you have stopped giving a damn about as you grew up? Share with me in comments down below.

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The other day I was talking to friend and we started chatting about closet organizers. I told her that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to store my husband’s assortment of uniforms. She was surprised and asked me if there was more than one kind of uniforms. Which, at first, surprised me and then led to the realization that we are living with a plethora of the most weirdest military stuff that normal people aren’t. So, if you are an army wife and were to take a look around your house and then compare it with your civilian friends’ homes chances are you will have an assortment of weird items your friends wouldn’t.

While you may not have everything on this list there should be quite a few of these crammed into your closets and hidden under beds.

  1. The car being parked in the driveway or in the street because the garage is jam-packed and stacked with crates, boxes and iron chests.
  2. Socks! Every which way!
  3. Spare badges and pins stored in living room vases.
  4. Baggies with patches and medals (which can never be found on time!).
  5. Brass-o.
  6. Dog tags.
  7. Take-out food brochures, business cards and phone numbers from a completely different station.
  8. Black shoe polish in powder. Black shoe polish in gel. Black shoe polish in spray. Back up black shoe polish.
  9. CSD slips.
  10. At least four different kinds of uniform: Khaki, Cami, SD, Mess kit (forgive me if I am missing something).
  11. A different kind of boot or shoe to go along with each type (which is why we have so many shoe polishes!)
  12. Your neighbor’s serving dish left over at your place from a dinner at your previous station.
  13. At least two bowls, three glasses and a spoon which do not belong to you.
  14. Spice boxes from two postings ago.
  15. CamelBaks in at least three different designs and sizes.
  16. Furniture wrapped up in the garage because it won’t fit through the doors of the house.
  17. Fridge placed in a room where it’s not supposed to be because the kitchen is tiny.
  18. Your expensive, automatic washing machine installed under the big, blue sky outside the house or on the terrace because the bathrooms are tiny.
  19. White walls.
  20. Chipped flooring.
  21. An entry sticker on your car from three postings ago which you have been meaning to peel off.
  22. Unit memorabilia glasses (dozens of them) from the last get together.
  23. An abundance of shields and decorative coins.
  24. Framed swords.
  25. Wedding photos with swords.
  26. Mismatched curtains.
  27. Bedroom’s furniture in the living room because the new living room is too huge and you don’t have enough stuff to put in it.
  28. Carpets from 6 postings ago.
  29. A curse of leaking faucets.
  30. A mysterious, unpacked box which follows you from one posting to the next.
  31. Potted plants which are older than some of your kids.
  32. Bills and receipts from previous stations which you ‘may’ need at some point.
  33. Local decorative items from each station you have been at.
  34. None of your furniture has been purchased in one place.
  35. P caps.
  36. Pipes held together with tape.
  37. A sack of lime powder in the store for emergency DIY whitewash purpose.
  38. Multiple types of insect killing sprays, powders, chalks.
  39. Husband’s overnight bag always ready to go!

And lastly:

  1. The Pakistani flag!

If you enjoyed this, also check out 6 things every military wife tells her kids when the husband is away.

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When she was a little girl

Of five,

She loved nothing more than

Dressing up her guriya

Like a bride.

With its red kiran laced dupatta,

Which her mother had sewn,

Lovingly.

And a gold, plastic tikka

Plastered,

To its porcelain forehead.

The hands of her doll hennaed

The red ghoongat covering

Its face.

Just above a slash of red

Across its full lips.

And as it was

Ten years passed.

And then ten more.

There she sat,

herself,

on the same throne.

A living, breathing

Guriya

Swathed in yards of

Red kiran laced dupatta which

Her mother had sewn so lovingly,

For her little darling.

Awaiting her bridegroom,

Shaking and trembling with,

Fear of the unknown,

As she stared at her hennaed hands,

From underneath the red ghoongat covering,

Her face.

Just above the slash of red across

Her full lips.

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Disclaimer: This is inspired from a story I read online. The author was unknown otherwise due credit would have been given.

The story goes that God was creating the mould for military wives and it took a lot more time than was anticipated. The Angels speculated for some time as to why it was taking so long. Finally one of the Angels came to God, “Lord, why this one is taking up so much time? Surely our standard mould should suffice.”

The Lord replied, “Have you even seen the specifications for this mould? It is the longest list we have ever compiled and seems nothing short of impossible. She has to be completely independent, raise a family as a mother and a father, be a perfectionist in every sense of the word, she should be able to host a dinner part for anywhere from 2 to 2 dozen people in an hour, she should be equipped to handle emergencies, juggle kids and grocery runs and hospital runs and an entire household. Most importantly she should be able to carry on even when she doesn’t feel like it. She also has to have the willingness to move to a new station every 2 years without a wrinkle on her forehead.”

Angel replied looking a little nauseous, “Surely, you must be kidding!”

God continues, “But she should not be without helpers. She will have other military wives looking out for her just as she would for them. For they must survive all of it together. I will also give her a heart strong enough to bear the pain of lengthy separations and large enough to forgive and let go of things. She will have a purity of thought to not envy the friends with successful careers when she gave up hers when she married a military man. Her heart will also swell with pride over her husband’s achievements and she will love him, regardless.”

“Dear God,” cried the angel, “You must rest!” God replied, “I am this close to creating something entirely unique and one-of-a-kind. This model has already learnt to heal itself when she’s sick, carry on with life cheerfully even when she is pregnant and be able to hold her heart from tearing into two every time she waves her husband goodbye for a lengthy separation. She understands why it is important that he must leave and patiently ensures her kids believe it too.”

The Angel cried as it circled the mould, “But God, she’s so soft.”

“She has the strength of a 100 lions,” God replied proudly, “You will not believe what she can endure. She can endure the joy and pride she feels for her husband. She can hold at bay the sadness and pain his absence brings to her heart. She is a model for all the values that she and her husband hold dear. She is paragon of love, sacrifice, dedication, commitment and loyalty.”

Angel replied sadly, “What a lonely life she must have.”

“Ah, but she’ll always have God watching over her,” replied He as He lovingly put finishing touches on that perfect mould.

.

.

.

.

If you enjoyed reading this also check out 6 things every military wife tells her kids when the husband is away.

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Your bestie got married and after a while went ahead and got herself a kid. Sure, she may annoy the crap out of you all the time with nothing else but baby talk. She may babble on and on about how her kid is absolutely a handful and why she ever thought she was ready to be a mother. On the other hand, she may also Whatsapp you a dozen pictures of her kid ALL WITH THE SAME ANGLE! People with kids can be annoying, we have established that.

But, no matter how annoying they may come off, there are things that people who don’t have kids should never, ever say to people with kids. Did I mention you are to NEVER say these things to a parent? You aren’t. Like, ever.

  1. “Why do you look so tired all the time?”

Only because I spend my nights feeding the little guy at regular intervals of one hour. And the days. And the nights again. And when I am not feeding him I am wiping his butt and trying to catch projectile vomit with my bare hands.

  1. “You are not fun anymore.”

Excuse you. Kids.suck.the.fun.out.of.everything. There. I said it. It’s out in the universe and there is no denying it.

  1. “Omg, did you see the latest Game of Thrones episode?”

Umm, no. I hit the sack as soon as my toddler dozed off to sleep in my bed between my arms.

P.S: We don’t co-sleep.

P.P.S: I will catch up on it I promise once he starts college. 15 more years!

  1. “You can’t be that busy to not even be able to call.”

Raising kids doesn’t just take time. It also takes every ounce of attention you got. Turn your back for a second and the LO would be eating cat poop and the toddler would be chucking items out the fridge. No, I am not exaggerating. This has happened! I swear I think about calling you all th… GET OFF THE DRESSER, YOU LITTLE FREAK…!!!

  1. “Let’s hang out. Leave the kids home.”

What are those words? Hang out? Leave kids home? Unless you have a genie in a lamp snoozing on your mantle which doubles as a baby-sitter consider the hang out postponed. Forever.

  1. “OMG, my dog does the exact same thing…”

No, uh uh. You did not just say that. Just because your dog is adorable and babies are adorable does not mean they are the same by association. It doesn’t work that way. Your dog begs you to take it for a walk and it’ll poop gladly. My toddler will hold his poop in just because I gave him water in the wrong colored cup that morning. Your dog will devour his food in a matter of seconds. My toddler will take 10 years in just finishing his breakfast. Your dog will want to play fetch with you. My toddler demands his dad eat his “big poopoo” and he’ll proceed to fake-feed his father his POOP! So no, your dog does not ‘do the same exact thing’.

  1. “When are you having another baby?”

When hell freezes over.

  1. “When I have kids I will never let them ______ and they will always ______.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

If you loved this, also check out Motherhood: Sans La Vie En Rose.

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If you are married to a military man chances are you have spent time away from each other, frequently. He may have been gone for only a couple of weeks (yes, couple of weeks is no biggie). Or he may have been away on a longer attachment; a year or two. If you have been lucky enough to move with your husband to whatever far-off corner he’s been posted to: count your blessings. If you have not spent time away so far chances are you eventually will.

A fun, little project before we moved apart.

The hardest part about the husband being away is raising kids in his absence. You are a single parent for all intents and purposes and it sucks. There will be days you’ll bury your face in the pillow and sob to a fitful sleep because dealing with life becomes just.too.much. There will be days when your kids will ask constantly every hour of every day when their father would be back. And then there will be days when they won’t anymore and instead of relief you’ll feel broken. There is no shame in owning your truths.

Here are 6 things every military wife has said at one point or another to her kids when her husband is away (been there, done that):

  1. “Baba’s away at office.”

The lies you will tell your kids will surprise even you. You would have told them that he’s away at office or he’s visiting some place far off and will be back very soon (only 65 days till his next leave!). Younger kids find it harder to understand why their dad isn’t around. My LO tells everyone that his baba is at office, bless his little heart.

  1. “No, he can’t come just yet.”

Good luck explaining how military leaves work to a 3 year old.

  1. “I wish we could go with him.”

No matter what your reasons are for staying behind whether for kid’s school, your own career or the fact that it isn’t a family-friendly station chances are you have wished you could go and join him at least twice every single day.

  1. “It’s too late; we will call him the first thing tomorrow.”

Bedtime is the hardest because the kids almost always ask for their baba while being tucked in bed. They want to hear him over the phone but it’s usually too late and your promise them you’d call him in the morning the first thing they wake up.

  1. “He called when you were asleep but he said he would call again.”

More often than not, depending on where he’s posted at, there will be complete radio silence. You may not hear from him for two or three days in a row. While trying to keep yourself from turning into a complete mess over worrying about it, you keep it together and feed your kids little white lies. If that isn’t strength I don’t know what is.

  1. “Baba misses you too.”

You better believe that, kid. He really does.

If you liked this and felt like yelling “Me too, sister!” also check out 32 Things I Didn’t Know About Being Mrs. Military Man.

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The other day I took my three year old to the playground. He’s a shy kid. Around other kids, especially. He has never had any kids around him who are his age. The older ones usually look at him like he’s a little kid (and he is) and while they will dote on him they won’t exactly ask him to come and play with them. The younger kids are too young to even know that he even exists.

So, he’s mostly had his mama and baba as his primary companions. Then the grandparents and uncles and aunties. Which is why it takes him a while to get comfortable around other kids his age, older or younger. He needs me by his side for a few minutes at the playground until he is ready to be alone with me watching over him from a distance.

So, the other day when I took him to the playground and was going with him from one playground set to the next this other mom tried to ‘school’ me. Seated on a bench near the slide set where my LO had been playing she comes off as the ‘experienced’ mom and palms off some buttered advice. She tells me to have a seat and let my kid be by himself because ‘this is how they learn’ to be alone and independent. Smilingly, she proceeds to tell me how this has worked with all of her 3 kids and now they don’t bother her much and play by themselves. Smilingly, I thank her for that sound, golden nugget. Then I turned around and help M scale a monkey bar.

To that lady, and many others like her, who come off more ‘concerned’ about my kid than me I’d just like to say that:

  1. Back off!

My kid, my rules. If I look fine tailing him from one end of the park to the other please don’t assume otherwise. May be I like watching my kid up and close instead of taking a seat at the bench and typing away at my phone.

  1. Thanks, but no thanks, really.

My kid is fine. If he wants his mama around to show off his latest neat tricks to he’ll have exactly that. He has an entire lifetime to be on his own. I’ll take the few years I get to spend with my little boy before he grows up and doesn’t need his mama to hold his hand.

  1. What works for your kid may not work for my kid.

Gasp! Yes, it can happen. Just because a ‘formula’ worked for your kid doesn’t mean it would for mine as well. Each kid does things in his own time at his own pace. There is no need to rush mine to be independent just because yours was by ‘thirty months’. FYI, just say two and a half please!

  1. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t talk.

If the words out of your mouth are going to be a critique on my parenting techniques or an unsolicited piece of advice, please go back to staring at your screen and not talking to me. Either say something positive or stay quiet.

  1. May be you should watch your own child instead of mine.

And may be if you did you’d notice that he’s been eating dirt.

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Hoot, hoot!

I’d been checking my social media and happened to come across someone’s post raving about a new play café in town. Possessing a three year old myself, I decided to swing by the place the very next day.

And boy was I glad that I did! This little nook is the first of its kind in Karachi. The Owl’s Nest play cafe is a huge, multi-level play area dedicated to children with a cranny to the side for parents to rest their feet at while sipping on some coffee is what every mother’s dreams are made of.

The ground floor has a long water bath which is guaranteed to keep the little ones hooked. Little fountains, plastic turbines, a plethora of toy ships and boats of all sizes were temptation enough for my LO to not even take a look back at his beloved mother. Your kid will be given an apron on arrival so he can play to his heart’s desire and not soak his clothes through.

There is a bookshelf to the side with plenty of interesting reads for the little ones. The ground floor has a spacious café as well where you can keep an eye on your kid playing about while sipping on that super smooth, super delish pumpkin spice latte. Yes, PSL!!!

The upstairs has a soft play pen especially for toddlers managed by vigilant staff. It also has a cozy little loft complete with a tiny, adorable hammock for kids to just kick back and relax.

It was an absolute delight spending time with my boy there as he sunk a dozen ships into the water bath and went back for some more. They have a specialized kids menu so if the LO’s get tired (which I doubt they will) there’s something yummy for their tummies ready at hand.

While everything was A-okay, there are a couple of things the management could work on:

  1. The music was deafening. While I understand loud music is kinda important to drown out kids’ banshee-like screams it was also loud enough to drown the words of the person right next to me.
  2. Maids! I understand that a lot of women have hired help for their kids, and no judgments there, but there came a point during our two hour stay at the café that there were more maids in the play area than kids. When there is dedicated staff to look after kids I really don’t see the need of maids hanging over their respective wards. If anything, it made me more conscious that my kid didn’t have anyone ‘fending’ for him.

Despite this, I am so glad something like this opened up and I hope this venture all the best. We will be visiting soon again, no doubts there. The place is open Tuesday through Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm.

It was a hoot!

Here are some pictures from our visit there today:

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We had been meaning to check Khewra salt mine off our list for quite some time now. But between husband’s awful work routine, a hectic move and all the packing which ensues we could not make time. This week, finally, we decided to push everything back on our schedules and take a quick trip to this gorgeous wonder of nature.

Why this mine is special? Because it is the second largest salt mine in the world. Wrap your head around that, took me a couple of minutes, I swear! It is also Pakistan’s largest and oldest salt mine. It has 17 active levels to this day and draws up to 250,000 visitors each year. Oh, and another interesting fact: there is an asthma hospital within the mines to care for those suffering this respiratory issue as salt air works wonders for its cure.

The story behind the discovery of these salt reserves is a very interesting one. During his Indian campaign, Alexander the Great came across the Jhelum and Mianwali district. During a stay, the horses in his army were found licking stones which led to the discovery of mineral salt in the area. This is how the second largest salt reserve in the world was discovered; horses! You can visit the official page on Khewra Salt Mines by Pakistan Tours Guide to learn more.

The Khewra district is at a drive of around 2.5 hours away from the Capital, Islamabad. Once you get off the motorway at Pind Dadan Khan interchange, the road from there to Khewra is pretty decent with only a few minor bumps along the way. The landscape is beautiful and shifts from Potohar to the plains of Punjab, from lush green and golden fields to saline plains and you wouldn’t be able to tear your eyes away from it.

Once we arrived at the site, we opted for a train ride into the mine. You could walk in as well but since we had a toddler with us we decided to spare him and ourselves the hassle. One of the most unforgettable memories from this trip would be the gushing cool, cave air hitting us in the face as soon as our train carried us inside the mine. For a second, I was speechless. We were actually inside a mine, making our way through the belly of a mountain range while rumbling along the tracks surrounded by walls glistening with salt reserves. It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around it.

The entrance. Chugging into the belly of the beast.

The train halts to a stop just at the end where the track opens up into wide hall. From there on, we went exploring inside with our guide. Along the way, he explained how salt is always mined on the ‘room’ principle: you mine out rock salt roughly the proportion of a large room, skip another ‘room’ and then mine out the next. This is to make sure the mine doesn’t cave and has enough support.

Afoot, inside. Mining according to the ‘room’ principle. Some mined rooms were huge, like this one extending a floor below, others were relatively smaller.

Check out the gorgeous rock salt patterns on the roof of the room above, and those tiny brinicles (brine icicles) towards the ground. Some rooms, however, were filled with water, which the guide explained was as heavy as The Dead Sea water. You wouldn’t drown should you jump or fall into one, but you’d definitely end up dead anyway because the high salt concentrate in the water would suck the salt and minerals out of your body within minutes. He chuckled. We didn’t.

Care for a swim?

Khewra salt mine is home to the only salt mosque in the world, made completely out of bricks of rock salt. They also have a few national monuments replicated, again entirely with polished bricks of rock salt, brilliantly lit up. Walking around Minar-e-Pakistan, several feet deep inside the dark cave of a mountain is an experience of its own kind.

The only salt mosque in the world. A small clinic with rooms for visitors. The famous Chaaghi mountain. Again, completely replicated from salt. The brinicles on that ceiling and the huge salt formation to my left were mesmerizing. Another huge surreal stalalagmite.
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Recently, I have been AWOL (absent without leave) from the blog because I’d been traveling and had been away from home for quite some time. When I finally did get back, I was consumed with bags upon bags to unpack. Next came giving the house a thorough scrubbing and cleaning because it was not under my watchful care for an entire two months! And we all know how much husbands tend to cleaning *wink*. When I finally had my sh*t together that is when came the mother of all news; we had been posted!

All hell broke lose, naturally. I was not mentally or emotionally ready to move just yet (especially after a week spent in heavy-duty cleaning). I did eventually come to terms with it and consequently, I have had my hands full of sorting, sifting, folding and packing an exhausting amount of things. However, my baby and I made sure that this drastic change of routine, in no way, messed with us having some fun while at it. While sorting through some things, I came across some tubes of forgotten paints, and dove deeper into a heap of random rubbish to retrieve some unused canvasses. And decided to have some fun!

I am not an artist and I don’t say that to appear modest because I really am NOT an artist. Instead of chucking the paints out and packing the canvasses, we took them out and tried something simple yet fun. This was M’s first time ever with paints and I cannot describe the wonder in his eyes and the excitement on his face in words.

Activity Breakdown:

Two simple projects.

Materials: Basic acrylic paints (I had only 3 shades). Canvas. A primer for the canvas. A brush. A black felt-tip permanent marker. Some sheets or newspapers.

The hand imprintsI prepared the canvas beforehand with a primer, Gesso. I primed it twice. Beginning with the darkest shade, squeezed some of it on my husband’s palm and coated it evenly with brush. He pressed it hard over the center of the canvas for about 5 seconds. We let it dry and then mama did the same. Dry, repeat with LO’s.

Merry finger paint: After priming the canvas and letting it dry, I wrote ‘love’ across it with a marker and then had the LO finger paint over it. Simple, dimple!

The first project: hand imprints. Starting with the biggest; baba’s, mama’s and lastly my baby’s. Since I am not an expert, I had these basic acrylics lying around in only 3 shades and had to to make do. Also, excuse my peeling Henna from Eid the week before. Another angle trying to ‘appear’ photographic with some serious packing action going on in the background with those trails of wrapping sheets. The final product. Finger painting for the little one. He was ecstatic. Propped it against a lemon tree because art! While the LO and I have been busy with this, Baba has been super duper busy with office, so we had him model the chance we got.


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