Second-Generation South Asian Indian American Identity

Something I constantly think about is how to pass down our traditions and culture to our children. I want my kids to know who they are and where they come from but it’s an interesting dilemma considering that my generation was raised differently than past generations. We were some of the first Asian Indian Americans growing up in the United States.

Being in America changed the way we would have traditionally grown up. I know a lot of people who grew up as close to the Indian culture as possible but even then, there were plenty of other influences affecting their childhood.

For me, growing up as a first-generation Asian Indian American in the United States allowed me and my siblings to define our own path. We chose whether or not to follow Hinduism. We chose which aspects of it we liked and didn’t like. Maybe it would have been the same in India. My mother’s side is pretty much a straight line of atheists. My dad’s side is religious but my dad never pressed us into following anything. He left everything open for our interpretations and let us make our own decisions on what we wanted to do.

Religion aside, being here in this “melting pot” gave us exposure to so many other cultures and religions. My family celebrates Holi which is traditionally a Hindu festival, Navratri which is traditionally a Gujarati festival, and spend Diwali at the Gurudwara since half of my family is Sikh although Diwali is also celebrated by Hindus and Jains. I am pretty sure that none of these are exclusive to their religions of origin. I know that garba during Navratri is well attended by people of all nationalities and religions.

Where does religion end and culture start? We are lucky to be in this area where everything isn’t so heavily based on religion but on our culture. I’ve never been really religious and if all of my family’s traditions were based on religion, I don’t know if I would feel as comfortable passing it down to my children. But since they have become much more based on Indian culture, we introduce our children to everything we possibly can so they are aware of our Indian traditions.

I feel lucky that Indian culture and religion can be separated as easily as it has. If our entire culture was rooted in religion, it would have been that much harder for me to accept this new identity that I have formed. It’s different now for my kids because they are learning second hand about our traditions. Whatever we have cultivated is what is being handed down. I have to accept they might never know our languages as well or the cultural norms that we grew up with.

How much can we expect our children to absorb? Is it possible that they will be as involved in the Indian culture as much as we were growing up. It honestly didn’t occur to me until my 30s that what we were doing was unprecedented. That means what our children are doing is unprecedented as well. I would like my children to take pride in the cultural traditions that we are able to pass down.

It will be interesting to see what our kids accept as and what they separate out from their cultural identity.

 

Real World Stuff

I had to stop going on Twitter and reading the news. Even then, yesterday, I saw a random headline pop out at me on my phone and it completely stressed me out.

What is the world coming to? The funny thing is that I’m completely aware that all of these problems existed before but a combination of I was too young to understand and no internet helped me to live in my bubble.

Now, the bubble has popped. No matter where we are, we are bombarded with information. And honestly, something bad is always happening. It doesn’t help that we are in a time when we have a leader that doesn’t know how to lead.

How does this affect us in our daily lives? For me, it sometimes makes me feel stagnant. I move because I have to but I’d like to crawl up in a ball and just hide until things get better. I have to also keep hope that they will get better but right now, that is definitely hard to see. So I freeze. I don’t know how to feel okay with the way the world is right now but I don’t know how to change it.

Social media also doesn’t help. It seems as though there are people who are still living in their bubble. I know it’s probably not true and they are probably just as worried about the state of things as I am but I wish I could at least feel that carefree sometimes.

I think having kids affects how I feel a lot. I worry about the future of the planet and the future of this county and how they will do within it. There are some days I wish they were still babies so I could keep them home and keep them safe.

Will it be possible to feel okay again? Is this temporary or is this the way we will be living now? Will these worries ever go away? Can we please get some good news for once?

Health Insurance Is Not A Guarantee Of No Stress

I am epileptic. I have given birth twice. I am a normal person.

Yet, one of the things that causes me the most stress in this life is my health insurance.

Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition. It’s not an option. I’m lucky enough that I can afford insurance. I’m lucky enough to be able to control my condition. I’m lucky enough to have a simple enough solution to handle it.

Dealing with insurance, however, makes the condition feel worse than it is. There are constant problems with meeting all the requirements to get the medicine I need to control the condition. The insurance doesn’t talk to the pharmacy, the pharmacy doesn’t talk to the doctor, the doctor can’t talk to the insurance. It’s like I need to conference call all of them constantly to make everything function smoothly.

In the past 4 months, I have had to deal with it all at least 3 times. For a month, I was constantly calling the insurance company, the pharmacy, and my doctor to get all the paperwork in order so I could continue to get the medication that I’ve been on for 13 years.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t something that should be so basic be easier? I’ve definitely read that it’s easier in other countries. I do realize that the insurance industry is a for-profit business and this is a way to make money. Why is that the case though? Shouldn’t our healthcare be a necessity, not a luxury? Shouldn’t we be able to get what we need without stress? Isn’t getting sick stressful enough?

I hope I get to see things get easier in the insurance world in my lifetime. I don’t know how this country can untangle the mess that it is. I don’t even know if the people in charge want to.

All I know is that it’s frustrating that in addition to whatever our bodies and minds are going through on a regular basis, we have to add a good dose of stress to it.

The Itch To Change

I’ve gotten comfortable. I have now fallen into my stay-at-home mom schedule with a set of responsibilities and I’ve become comfortable. My biggest challenge is literally just to find a way to get dinner done before I have to leave for the gym since the time I go is dinner time for the kids.

I know I should be proud of raising children and taking care of my family and etc etc etc. But I can’t shake this feeling that I’m meant for more.

The last time I had this feeling, I changed around my whole life. I left the relationship I was in, my job had just laid me off, and I had just finished my MBA. That’s when I met someone who became my business partner and together, we developed a really great dance show. It was great. It was exactly what I needed at the time and it brought me a sense of fulfillment and contentment.

I have that feeling again. This time, I don’t think I need to make any major changes. I love my husband and my kids and the life we have created. My husband and I have also started teaching dance as a side business and are loving it.

That itch is still there though. I’m not sure what it means or what I should also be doing. I know things I’ve dreamt of but I’m not sure which ones are meant to come true and which ones I really want to pursue. I don’t know if I have the motivation to really figure out what it is that I need. I don’t even know which ones are realistic.

Have you ever sat on the edge of something you know will change you? I don’t know how to quite describe it. I’ll know it when I see it. And afterwards, I’ll be like “Remember when I was talking about this? This is how it happened. “.

To quote The Little Mermaid “I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know something is starting right now.” (It’s stuck in my head. Thank you, children of mine.)

 

Who We Are Today

Over the last few years, I haven’t written as much in this blog as I’d like to. If I’m honest, it’s probably because most of the exposure I have to the outside world is limited to my family and sometimes, I don’t want to write about the things I feel within that limitation. My original intent for this blog was to discuss things that South Asians don’t have a tendency to discuss. I’d like to try to continue that and make more of a commitment to writing regularly again.

Being surrounded by my kids most of the day means that most of my experiences are child-oriented right now. I am not the stay-at-home mom that is able to do all sorts of arts and crafts and bake and teach my children all sorts of lessons (with unending patience, I might add). I wish I was because that would give me a ton of inspiration in what I write about.

I loved writing but it’s taken a quite a back seat to the rest of my life. It scares me sometimes that I’m not experiencing the outside world the way I used to. My world view has narrowed (other than what I read in the news). So now I need to figure out what I should write about. What are things about parenthood that need to be discussed? What can I write about where the discussion can help improve and influence the lives of other South Asian people? How do I translate this new life of mine into a conversation?

This blog was started for a reason and with a purpose. I don’t want to lose that. That means I have to adapt to the change. I have to find times and ways to continue writing with a purpose.

There are always things to talk about. So let’s talk about them.

Mom Tired

Over the last week, there were multiple nights were I did get over 7 hours of sleep. It was broken sleep because I still had to wake up to feed my baby but according to my Fitbit, I did manage to get around 7- 8 hours total.

So then why am I still tired when I wake up in the morning and all day?

I think there is something called “Mom tired”. It can apply to dads too (I’m not trying to be discriminatory at all).

It’s this feeling that no matter how much rest you get, no matter how much time to yourself you get, you will always be tired. Coffee helps but only to a certain point.

What is it about having kids that does make you tired permanently? I always had bags under my eyes but now I think they are there for life. Nothing is going to help this mess on my face.

And you are on their schedule. That means, you probably won’t be able to sleep until they do and you have to be as active as they are while they are awake.

Somehow, you power through it every day. You do as much as you can. You spend the time with your kids and be as involved in their in lives as you can. And, of course, as soon as they are asleep, you know you should go to sleep but it’s the only alone time you’ve had all day so you stay up a little bit later than you should (which probably doesn’t help the bags).

I’m assuming being tired all day is something that will eventually go away when the kids become older and sleep all night.

But until then, more coffee to me.

Having a Family: Commitment or Sacrifice

– By Anonymous

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights – Pauline R Kezer

In reflecting on my life in the last 5 years, I see myself as a different person than I had envisioned. I knew children would change me and change my lifestyle, but not in the way it has. 5 years ago, I drew my energy from being around others, from being in social situations, and from conversations with my family of friends. I swore that this wouldn’t change by having children. Fast forward to now and I re-energize by having moments of quiet time those late hours when I’m awake because my 4-year-old is having nightmares, those wee early morning hours when not a soul is yet awake in my house, or those minutes when my office door is closed and no one comes knocking. When did I change from being an extrovert to an introvert?

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been hiding in a cave of sorts. Whether it was a conscious or unconscious decision to limit my interactions with others is unclear; what is clear is that I’ve made some lifestyle changes and am re-evaluating and prioritizing those important things in my life.

I talked to several people during this enlightening time and have come to the conclusion that some people perceive the time spent with young children and limiting “mommy time” – time away from the children – as a sacrifice: a sacrifice of the self. Others perceive this time as a commitment. I count myself in the camp of those who consider it a commitment. Growing up, I saw my cousins allow their parents raise their children, giving more of themselves to their social lives and career ambitions. I never wanted to be the parent who relied so heavily on grandparents. I firmly believe that my children should know me as their mom. I am also an ambitious career woman (which also adds guilt because I spend so much time away from my kids) so when I am home with my family, everything else gets shut off. No text messages, no phone calls, no tv. I am committed to being “mommy” which means I get to have dance parties with my kids before bed, read stories, and enjoys tickles and giggles. Please don’t misunderstand. There are also moments of frustration but I’m committed to helping my children work through tantrums, fights, and experiencing such intense emotions.

Did I forget to mention my role as wife? I also have a firm belief that without a solid foundation, whether that is as a single parent or as a two parent household, parenting can go south real quick. So when the kids are asleep or entertaining themselves, I work on making that foundation as solid as possible (in addition to completing chores such as dishes, general cleaning and laundry).

So commitment or sacrifice? I suppose that is in how one perceives the various roles a woman plays when she becomes a mother (or the roles a man plays when he becomes a father) and also depends on how one chooses to prioritize the different aspects and responsibilities in his or her life.

I have changed and I am committed to my family. I’m not here to judge those who choose a different way, I’m just asking to not be judged for choosing my way.