My parents came to visit when our first-born (Thuli) was about 4 months old. By that time Thuli had been sleeping in her own room for many months. My mother was shocked. I myself had not been terribly conflicted since I valued the sleep that I got since our precious bundle of joy went on to sleep in her own room.
My mother struggled with this (as did my dad). In Nepal and I’m sure throughout South Asia children sleep with their parents for many years. I’m certainly no stranger to that idea and when Shreemati made plans to get the crib ready at around 11-12 weeks (we had her in a bassinet in our room until then) I was a little taken aback. However, when it’s just the two of you and not a house full of relatives raising children you need to be efficient. So, I understood what we were doing.
My parents never turned this into an argument or anything like that, but many questions did arise. My mom openly questioned whether the child was getting enough love or not. But to anyone who has been around my girls, that is a silly question with a very obvious answer. However, after a few weeks my mom started to observe that children here are very independent and are taught to do things on their own from an early age. She started to see that perhaps our way of doing things is most definitely not the only way of doing things.
When they were here last summer my mother was again taken aback. They were surprised to see how much Maili (middle one then 17 months old) could do on her own. Maili ate on her own, was already pooping on the potty and was close to being out of diapers. Not that this is necessarily an American thing, but my mom was again surprised by how much kids can be trained to do things. I guess the bottom line is she always thought kids needed to be babied well into years 7 and 8. Something very common in South Asia. Well we have certainly shown that is not the case. And we still love our children very much.
Just a reminder to all you folks out there who many not be thinking about this right now, but Mothers Day this year falls on Tuesday May 3, 2011. There is still time to send your mom something for this special day. I’d recommend Thamel.com (I get nothing out of making this recommendation).
At minimum don’t forget to call her.
Just wanted to wish everyone a blessed and happy New Year 2068.
Sometimes I feel that my relationship with Shreemati is a microcosm of a much larger cultural difference. This seems to be case when we face challenges. A few years ago I was in the process of a career change (or adjustment). During this time she continued to be optimistic at the opportunities that lay before us and I kept a continual focus on fate and destiny and loss. Perhaps this is a personality difference but as I’ve lived in America for all these years I do notice that the people in general are an optimistic bunch.
I’m not saying that there are not exceptions, of course there are, but what I’m saying is that the fatalism that I grew up with is very ingrained in my mindset. While I try not to hold on to it and it goes against everything I now believe, it is still there. And I’m starting to think that while I am a very happy person and have a very positive outlook on life, there is a lingering thing in the back of my head that at times holds be back.
Right now we’re facing a few challenges and this issue keeps popping up. The “can do”optimism that Shreemati shows at times rubs me the wrong way. I think this is in her personality but it’s also a part of her nationality and culture. This sense that with hard work and a little bit of smarts anything is possible. I on the other hand keep focusing on the difficulty and the quiet sense that in the end it’s really just a matter of destiny. At least that what I seem to be operating under. A total lie of course.
Image used under creative commons license from Flickr account ID ragnar1984
Keeping the Nepali language in our household has been difficult. Shreemati has picked up quite a bit of the language but it still is not at a point where we can converse at home. To be honest we have not made as much of an effort as we should. This year we tried making the time between my arrival from work and bed time as the official Nepali speaking time – but we had a few of Shreemati’s relatives come for a visit and that kind of fell by the way side.
Of course when we have Nepali people over we speak Nepali and last summer my parents were here so there was plenty of Nepali to go around. To compensate I show the girls some Nepali songs and music videos and keep Nepali books around. Quite interestingly the girls love the “Maiti Ghar” music video the most. Of course its a song about “the fathers house” being special to a girl once she marries and goes to live with her husband.