My parents arrived in Chicago from India on Thursday and I am enjoying the pampering even as I am getting used to four adults living at home. It is common among diasporic Indians including those in the US to invite their parents over during pregnancy. Parents travel all over to their children’s adopted homelands and spend an extended period of time helping their daughters and daughters-in-law with the pregnancy, delivery and labor, and grandparenting (I hate the use of the word ‘babysitting’ when it really is spending time and caring for your own child or grandchild).
My mother has packed in a bunch of herbal and Ayurvedic massage oils, medicinal liquids and tonics, and other things for me and our baby. She has a plan of action in place already for what she would feed me post-partum to help me get back in shape and health at the earliest. I anticipate some concerns with what I know as right having lived in the US for almost 14 years and my mother’s years of traditional wisdom. There might be some co-cultural mother-daughter conflicts in my future but it’s all good if I just stay calm and understand that it’s to my advantage and she only means really, really well for HER child. Perhaps, once I have my own child, I will gain a new perspective on my own mother and her unconditional love for me.
It is a different dynamic when parents of an Indian woman learn to adapt to more routinized long-term living with their daughter and Canadian son-in-law. As with traditional and patriarchal Indian culture (the majority of it), my mother is very concerned about everything Aaron might think, do, want, not want them to do. Aaron of course is a little OCD germophobe so they worry about annoying him with their ways and I kind of in the middle of it all, try to make sure both sides are pleased. Of course, my parents as well as Aaron are all very flexible with their habits and everyone works hard to please everyone else and make each others’ lives comfortable which is a huge help for my sanity but I have to admit, it is different living with my non-Indian husband and my Indian parents. What a new experience!
Since they arrived, my mom has taken over most of the cooking responsibilities which was what I was most looking forward to. Not that I don’t enjoy cooking but these days and at 37.5 weeks pregnant, I am rarely in the mood to stand for long hours, cleaning, chopping, cooking, and serving. I help her a little here and there but I am really grateful to mumma for having taken the initiative as was her intention which she told me before they even arrived. With regard to cooking, I will cook his favorites for Aaron or as he says, he could do it for himself too. When it is just the two of us, we eat a bunch of things – salads, burgers, pizza, chicken – basically a steady diet of relatively healthy (lean meats, non-fried chicken, etc) Western foods with a good mix of Indian foods to which I often default. However, since my mom’s cooking is exclusively Indian and vegetarian, and I don’t want Aaron to feel forced to eat these foods, I am hoping to keep cooking for my husband so he can eat his favorites while continuing to eat whatever Indian food he wants to.
I showed my parents how to operate the washing machine/dryer yesterday as I did a load of baby’s laundry washing the clothes they bought for our child. Mum also wants me to show her how to run the dishwasher.
It is interesting how you can live in one place for years, learn its ways, and have behaviors become second nature to you but then you move to a foreign land and you feel incompetent in operating a washing machine.
I also showed my dad where the trash chute is (since we live in a high-rise condo building) and how to use that and where to place our recycling stuff. This is all new information for them and they are so eager to learn.
My parents have wanted to visit the US in the winter and this was of course a little bit forced because of our baby’s plans to be born in February but despite the cold, they seem to be enjoying the experience. They did love watching the snowfall today. It started snowing this morning and continued throughout the day. Even though they’ve been to India’s snow-covered regions and visited Switzerland and other European countries, nothing like being in the weather for an extended period of time and soaking it all in.
As for the pregnancy itself, last night was bad. I was in really bad pain and had to sit upright to be able to sleep. I think that’s what I am going to do from now on…sleep upright since that is the only comfortable position for me. At my last OB appointment on Friday, she said I was 2 cms dilated which is good. I really could go into labor any day. The doc did say it would be sooner than later although my actual date is Feb 26. Remains to be seen when Baby E or Baby J will decide to make her/his entrance into this world. I am one excited but scared mama!!