All Our Indian Aunties Were Also Stay-At-Home Moms

I always imagined that I would be a working mom when I grew up. My mom was a working mom. I knew that a lot of the stay-at-home moms I knew weren’t necessarily college educated. I assumed that all of these aunties were stay-at-home moms by default. I thought that they had no choice and this is what they did. I thought it was definitely an easier life than to work and raise a child.

I don’t know if staying at home was a choice or a default lifestyle but that didn’t make it any easier to be a stay-at-home in the previous generation. I think about the things I face now on a daily basis with my children. I think about how many times I burn out and need time to myself before I send myself into a nervous breakdown. I have a supportive husband with the flexibility to allow me to take time for myself.

But what about those aunties I grew up with? Were they able to get time to themselves? In the Indian culture, there is definitely a “put everyone else first” attitude for the women. Your husband and your kids come first. If you have in-laws or your parents, they also come first. You are definitely last in line when it comes to being taken care of. So is that what happened to the women I saw raising my friends?

Our culture here in America has evolved enough to recognize that everyone needs some time for themselves. It’s encouraged and recommended. I’m not sure if the Indian culture has evolved as much yet but I can see the trend leaning towards it. I know if I ask my husband for some time to myself, he will do his best to give it to me.

I really wonder what the generation before went through when they were raising kids. Was it easier or harder? Did they expect anything more of themselves than being a parent or was that enough for them? How did they deal with the day in, day out of being a stay-at-home mom? Were they happy? Did they care if they were happy? Or was it enough if everyone else in their household was happy?

Someday, maybe I’ll try to have this conversation with some of the aunties I know.

 

How Do You Talk To An Indian Auntie?

I can’t relate to Indian aunties. If I run into them at different events, it’s literally a “Hi, how are you?” situation and then I’m on my way. I’ve tried the small talk thing but honestly, it’s usually a fail.

I always thought that it was the fact that I was younger and it was something I’d outgrow but after going to recent family events, I’m now accepting that maybe it’s just me. Even now that I have kids and we have more in common than before, I still don’t know what to say to them.

It seems to be mutual. They are nice enough to exchange the social norms with me but that’s as far as it goes.

And I’m not really sure why this is. I can connect to some people but maybe I just don’t have much in common with the aunties. I have some friends who seem to be able to talk to everyone. They are able to be friends and make people laugh and it’s no problem at all. I just don’t seem to have the ability. Maybe it’s also partly that I never developed a relationship with some of them past being their friend’s daughter.

I also started thinking that maybe I’m not an easy person for aunties to relate to. I don’t know how to be myself and connect to them. Maybe it’s a generational gap, maybe it’s being raised in India versus being raised in America, or maybe it’s just a personality thing.

Who knows? I wish I could figure out what makes it easy for us to talk to some people and really difficult to talk to others.

Until then, we just hang out with those who make it easier for us to be ourselves.

 

The Fresh Food Controversy

Are you South Asian Indian? Have you ever heard either your mother or some other Indian aunty (or I guess, our generation now since a lot of us are moms) who says that food has to be fresh and nothing else is good enough? Are you or someone you know the type that will only eat food that has been cooked that day and anything else should be thrown out?

I grew up with a full-time working mom in America which means we were all about leftovers. And we grew up loving them. There’s nothing better to me than pasta or chow mein that has had a day to soak in its grease and spices. It is amazing. Even now, I meal-plan so that we have leftovers for at least a day (I also have no capability of controlling how much I make when I cook so inevitably, we end up with at least 2 times the amount we need).

My sisters and I are some of the healthiest people I know. We don’t get sick too often, are fairly active, and in good shape. So I’m wondering about this whole “fresh is best” idea.

Is there a valid point to be made? Does something lose nutritional value or taste sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two? Or is it just a preference? Other than straight up mold causing sickness, is there anything wrong with eating something for a few days?

Can you even argue with someone who claims that food is only good for that day? Or can you just happily take their leftovers because they refuse to eat them?

I also wonder if this claim is something that is made by people whose strength is cooking. Do they just like the idea of making something new every day? Does their self-esteem depend on it?

I like eating fresh food but I have no problem eating leftovers as well. To me, it’s all food. If it was good before, it’s good after. If it isn’t good, it wasn’t good to begin with.

So….what do you think?