My friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy two Sundays ago and last weekend she came to play a hockey game with the baby in tow. She didn’t have anyone else to leave the baby with and didn’t see why that should stop her from playing a hockey game. She kept the baby capsule on the floor near  the players bench and checked on her baby every once in a while.The fact that she gave birth only two weeks ago didn’t bother her at all.

When my youngest was in play school, one of the mothers came to pick up her oldest child a day after giving birth to her second child.

Whereas Indian women are told to rest the first 40 days. No doubt, I would have loved to do nothing for 40 days and having someone to take care of my baby while I did nothing would have been awesome. But I didn’t have that luxury and that is ok. Being on my own helped to lose the 25 kg weight I put on very quickly. I also enjoyed spending time with my babies and taking care of them.

Would there be any long term effects because neither my friend, not I followed the traditional confinement rituals? Who knows.


13 thoughts on “Rituals

  1. I had wondered the same too about us and ladies here in US… My mom had come with the whole ayurvedic thirummal package after my delivery… I let her do some but I was totally against her putting manjal on me and getting my all white bathroom stained.

    • Thumbi: I noticed this every time I go to the mall. all the Indian ladies with a baby always have an older woman with them. It is like, they can’t cope on their own, which is not true. Millions of women around the world have babies and cope on their own.

      • Ha ha… Did you mean in the US or anywhere abroad?..It’s not because we can’t cope, it’s more because of all these other reasons here:
        1. We want our kids to be born in US for the citizenship plus it is not advisable for a long travel to India while pregnant. The ladies here also have their mom, sisters, SILs, MIL, friends etc. come to help them for couple of weeks or at least present at the time of delivery, so I guess it is normal to want your loved ones close to you.
        2. Getting a US visiting visa is a tedious process for anyone who is not residing near one of the US consulates in India (2-4 day process depending how far you are), so once you get it, it’s better to use it to stay for the maximum length possible in US and spend all the time with your newly acquired grandchild.
        3. And the flight tickets are expensive too, especially if your grandchild is timed to be born in summer. :D. So I feel it’s not worth for a 2 week trip.
        4. One set of parents visit for 6 months and then the other set visit for the next 6 months because most probably the working woman will not be able to take vacation that year/ they don’t want their really young baby to travel, so will not be able to visit India. The grandparents will be anxious to see their new grand child. So we get a maximum of a yr’s coverage between the two sets of parents. (My coverage was only for 7 months and he started going to daycare at 6 mon – pretty much scandalous among Indians close by at least, LOL…all four of them were working and they couldn’t get more vacation, also none of them were willing to stay on their own without their spouse.)

        • Thumbi: My friend’s ( hockey mom) mother lives 1 km away from her home. She and her husband went to the hospital when she was in labour and the grandmother saw her first grandchild few hours after the delivery. She could have asked her mother ( retired) to look after her baby when she came to play hockey, but she didn’t, because it is her baby and her responsibility.
          In a decade or two, I hope to be a grandmother and have a houseful of grand kids. But I will not be raising them. My job was to raise my children and my children’s job is to raise their children. I have places to go and things to do. Raising my grandchildren isn’t part of my responsibilities. I hope to see my grandchildren during their holidays and perhaps I will take them to Disney land or surfing etc and when the holidays are over, they will go back to their parents home.
          It is unfair to expect grandparents to take the responsibility to raise their grand children. They are older, not physically capable and taking them out of their comfort zones, so they could be with their children and help them with raising their grandchildren is not right.
          Your children are your responsibility

          • Fully agree… There is no need for grandparents to help take care of the grand kids…Our parents visit to spend time with their grand child and not to look after him… His every need, be it food,disciplining, driving him to various activities etc. are taken care of by me and my husband…They are here to enjoy spending time with him, and that’s what they will do…We are not comfortable letting our son visit India on his own at this age…When he’s a bit older, we may send him over during summer vacations especially if they don’t want to travel… I totally agree that grandparents have a life of their own and we should really ask them for their convenient time before we decide to leave our kids for baby sitting and not take them for granted… 🙂

            I had always thought that all Americans lived like your hockey friend. My American neighbor has two kids who are baby sat by either her mom or her SIL on alternate days…I don’t know what the financial arrangements are, but I realized here also people take help from family… 🙂

  2. I do think it is a cultural/ society thing. Generally Indians in the U.S. (and many other countries) are still dependent on their families to help them out. Sure kids need to be the parents’ responsibility but grandparents do (and in many cases want to/ or are obliged to help out) help. To a couple, it makes a whole lot of financial and emotional sense to do this – they know they can trust that their kids are taken care of and that there are no obvious ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses).

    I also think that our feelings change. There are things that I felt strongly about a few years ago that I have changed my mind about. It’s called growing up and experience. A single person will find it very difficult to view things as a parent. May view children as noisy, spoilt brats. Their views usually change as parents. Maybe your views may change when you become a grandparent. I know both kinds of grandparents. Perhaps its just a personality thing, perhaps it is a need thing.

    Of course, the rest/ recuperation vs. the get back to business studies need to be undertaken to see which may be better – then too it may be very subjective…

    • Shibu and Thumbi: I see this old lady at our local park most evenings. She is a Malayalee, had a bypass surgery 2 months ago and takes care of her son’s two children. One is a 8 month old baby and the other is a 3 year old boy..a real brat. I see her struggling, especially because the three year old will not listen to her and runs every where and she can’t run after him and he also talks really rude to his grandmother.. Her son insisted that she ought to come and help him with the kids, because he didn’t want to leave his precious children at the day care and because she is a widow and the son wanted to take care of his mother after her bypass surgery.. I am yet to see any of my non Indian friends treating their parents the same way.

      • That is a sad reality in too many instances. I really wonder if the granny feels being taken advantage of. If so, that is a tragedy.

        • Shibu: Everyone in Kerala thinks the son is really caring to bring his mom over after her surgery to take care of her. So she couldn’t have not come..She is waiting to go back.

      • I don’t know any Indian friends who treat their parents like the scenario described above either… I think he’s an anomaly… :D…As far as I see, parents visit for some months every year or every other year, spend summers here and then go back…Or the other situation I have seen is parents who moved to US as green card holders/citizens and are living with my friends, just like they do in India…Those parents are mobile with their own cars and do help around the house and also help raise children like any Indian family with parents, kids and grand children living together.

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