Friday, March 9, 2012

Mommy, But Still Me is Making a Big Splash

Mommy, But Still Me
Author:  Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar 

The modern woman's guide to switching from jet setter to incubator, MOMMY BUT STILL ME retells the story of a first time mother with humor and honesty. From sex with a purpose to ankles swelling into cankles, this is a no-holds barred look at the all the changes, big and small; from knowing "hipster" as a term that describes your generation to using it describe where you like to carry things.

Imagine a man volunteering to trade in his game nights for heart burn and back ache. Good thing there are women around to ensure the survival of the species. This hilarious look at the journey from high heels to high blood pressure, as a jet setter turns into a bed wetter, is what your doctor won't tell you and your own mother may have forgotten in the years since she was blessed by your arrival.

"At our first meeting my future father-in-law waited until we sat down in the Thai restaurant, the oblong menus placed in our hands and the waiter was a distance away, tending to other diners, before turning towards me, his eyes glowing. This was the first time we were all seeing each other after his son had proposed to me. "When will I get to hold my first grandchild?" He asked. For my father-in-law and everyone else, I have a question of my own: When will any of you be satisfied?"

Living the Dream

In June of 2011 I quit my corporate job at an international publisher because I was tired of promoting the work of other authors while my own was squeezed into Saturday afternoons at the library. The decision to write full time had been a long time coming: I wrote my first short story in 2002. Since those days in graduate school, I had considered writing a hobby and never given it my full attention.
While I was working at the publishing house, however, I realized that my work was not only as good as many of the projects I was helping to promote, the stories I was telling could only be told by me.

Along the ten year journey, I had left the comfortable field of South Asian identity and wandered into global issues like interfaith marriage, taboos, and male protagonists.  Taking the plunge hasn’t been easy: I have four e-books out and none of them are (yet) on the Kindle bestseller list. The life of a self-published author is exciting but as any one engaged in marketing their work will tell you, is somewhat of a “slog” --- hard work.

You have to be willing to put aside pride and plug yourself; working your books not only into conversation at parties but going several steps further to seek out those special interest groups who are into what you are writing about. Day after day, week after week, you devote time to writing new work or promoting existing titles. Because if you don’t believe in your book, who else will?

Yet everyday I get up now is filled with energy, drive and excitement because my best efforts aren’t given away to someone else. Instead I’m using all the knowledge, know-how, and passion for my own work. This may sound selfish or egotistical but as an author it’s an absolute must if you want to take your work from the insular circle of friends and family to a larger audience.

The days aren’t always glamorous, and often involve a lot of administrative drudgery, but I can tell that I’m making headway on a book that I’ve been revising for two years. We’re about two weeks away from the completion date – an impossibility with my previous hectic schedule.

There have been many sacrifices along the way, both mine and my family’s. Living your dream doesn’t mean you jump straight to the part with the meadow, soft music, and cotton dress. But you can feel the sunshine on your face. And sometimes that’s all you need to keep at it.

Mommy But Still Me Excerpts:


If You Don’t Live in a Village, Don’t Ask

I am not a fifteen year old girl living in a remote rural village. Nor was I part of a generation of women who were sent to college by parents expecting tuition dollars to also result in M-R-S degrees. I no longer participate in any spiritual tradition that advises that women are like children; better seen, not heard, and preferably kept at home.
Twenty years ago my mother was told “not to worry” about her high school exams because she was getting married. Her husband, the son of a well-known government clerk in Madras, India, would look after everything.
I’m not my mother.
I didn’t get married at seventeen, but at twenty-seven. I didn’t live in one house until adulthood, shielded from windows and the chance glance of passerby on the street. From the age of five I was wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts across three countries on two continents.
At twenty- seven, a converted Christian, Indian American, Ph.D. student, working in the Middle East, I considered myself an unlikely candidate to participate in the ethnic ritual of adulthood: marriage. Resigned forever to be a ‘girl,’ and introduced as the unmarried cousin at all future family events, I was happy in having chosen my own road. Because, for all the purported differences between my mother and my generation’s “advances,” I was plagued by questions of whether or not I was going to get married. Didn’t I want that special title of mother – the world’s most thankless and demanding job – second only to that of wife? I have never been one to back down from a fight, real or perceived, and I certainly do not like being told what to do unless someone is explaining the rules of a new board game.
To be fair, more than just the South Asian element badgered me to explain the delay of domestic luminosity. My intentions were conversational fodder for everyone: white, Latino, Asian, friends, relatives, even strangers. The miraculous happened. I met someone in the middle of the Arabian Desert. Someone who liked adventure and travel – the items my father most objected to in the matrimonial ad my parents placed for me in India Abroad – someone who shared Asian respect for family, home, and hard work.
At our first meeting, my future father-in-law waited until we sat down in the Thai restaurant, the oblong menus placed in our hands and the waiter was a distance away, tending to other diners, before turning towards me, his eyes glowing. This was the first time we were all seeing each other after his son had proposed to me.
“When will I get to hold my first grandchild?”
For my father-in-law and everyone else, I have a question of my own: When will any of you be satisfied?

I'm Pregnant Not Handicapped

I used handicapped bathrooms and parking spaces (with negative consequences). It's a toss up in the Middle East; people are much more lenient with pregnant people than in western countries. I didn’t use being pregnant to get away with much at work, but in my personal life I wanted a little more leeway.
I was at the mall with a friend and thought I should have gone to the bathroom before leaving the conference we were both attending, but I didn't. We started laughing so hard I knew I had to go to the bathroom before it looked like my water had broken. I dashed to the bathroom without any of my belongings in the effort to get there faster. And before I came to the one with the stalls, I saw a female handicapped one. Without a second thought, I ducked inside. I may not have been in a wheelchair, but I was pregnant and my body in an altered state from what it normally was.
Imagine my relief turning to dismay when, after washing my hands, the lock wouldn't turn in the tumbler. I panicked because the person I was with didn't know where I was – in my rush to get to the bathroom – I didn't have my phone or my purse
There was I was: in a foreign country, at the mall, locked in a bathroom. If I hadn't been worried I'd spend all night in there, I would have laughed. Instead I started pounding on the door, unsure how I would communicate with the passerbys that I was stuck, reviewing my Arabic, hoping someone would hear me over the noise, as twenty minutes went by and my heart beat threatened to floor me.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was good in many ways since that is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to her full time gig. She has published three e-books this year including Mommy But Still Me, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, and Coloured and Other Stories. Since she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines.

Her work has also been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

Title – Mommy but Still Me
Format – Ebook
Genre – Humor/Non-fiction

Purchase Links:

YouTube Channel - TheMohaDoha YouTube Channel


Patti Hultstrand said...

Welcome and hope everyone has a terrific Friday. Before you go out for the weekend, come by and visit with us here and let the author know what you think and share some of your own humorous stories about impending motherhood or just being a mother in general. I know there are times in which, if I couldn't laugh, I would have cried.

BK Walker said...

Great post today Mohana! Thank you for hosting Mohana today Patti :)