Parenting is all about facing adapting to challenges. I experienced the magical moment of motherhood in India at my age of 24. Aside from the excitement and happiness, I felt the fear of responsibility. I had already decided to give my little baby girl the best.
In the initial days, I tricked myself believing that overcoming the sleepless nights will be the only challenge I have to face and everything else would be easier as the days pass. But each day I had surprises that made me realize I was totally wrong. However, I had my family’s support which made my mommy journey bit easy. Everyone advised me to relax and told that I have enormous time to get skilled in parenting.
When the time came for my husband to return back to Chicago, we all thought that it would be easier to travel together with a 4 month old. So, I decided to travel back to Chicago with my husband. It was our own tiny self-sufficient universe.
Me and my husband both invested ourselves deeply in the minutiae of everyday life. Adapting to the new lifestyle introduced me another level of complexity. I saw it as a balancing act.
Coping Without Family in USA
Now, my only concern was my baby. I didn’t have the time or energy to stress over with the household management like I did in India where there were other family members helping out. Mothering my kid without my family’s guidance was intimidating. I quickly became too wrapped up with the demands of caring for a tiny person and myself.
Acclimating with Chicago Weather
Being a South Indian, having to face the fickle weather in Chicago was pleasure at times. But the excitement didn’t last for long. I realized I hate winter season. I was frustrated with spending the unending winter days by binge watching series on Netflix. Now having a baby made me crazy. I worried about how my daughter would grin and bear with the Chicago weather.
The horror stories of frostbite, flu virus, cold feet haunted me. But fortunately, the weather forecast is fairly accurate. Mostly we stayed at home. We made sure not to expose her too much to the winter as she was still 5 months old. We spent our winter mostly in hibernation mode. I wished we could take her out more often.
Thankfully over time, the warm summer sunshine came as a welcome relief. The timing was perfect for indulging in activities like playing in the park, strawberry picking etc., Thankfully, now my daughter is 26 months old and she has accustomed to USA weather.
Beginning Solids Differently
I never had to worry about my daughter’s diet since she was breastfed. But breastfeeding alone isn’t sufficient for a 6-month-old and I was supposed to introduce the solid foods as per doctor’s recommendation. In India food prepared with rice is considered to be the best option for an infant in the initial days. Preparing the boiled rice and mashing it enough for a kid to easily chew and swallow is a recommended method for introducing solid.
I have seen kids here feeding themselves as early as possible in the high chair with table usually with Cheerios or other cereal, small pieces of boiled veg or fresh fruit and packed fruit or vegetables. But I had no confusion on which diet to follow for her.
Fortunately, Indian grocery stores were the saviors which made my decision easy. But, at the same time, I don’t want to give the food cultural shock to my kid by making her dependent with the Indian cuisine. However, she has to cope with the American menu when she enters her preschool. So we add Cheerios and other American food items occasionally to our menu.
Leaving Cloth Diapers Behind
When we stayed in India my kid used to wear cloth nappies traditionally called “langots”. We used diapers only for travel or doctor visits. It was more of a cultural decision. So, no questions asked. But, staying in the house covered with carpet I have no choice but to make her wear the diapers.
I felt very bad and worried for her. I hated to see my kid in a diaper. Sometimes I sounded like a grandma who would be whining all the time. The fear of diaper rash made me crazy. Even though I was so strict with a schedule of diaper change(every two to three hours), she would suffer from diaper rash sometimes. Thankfully, diaper rash creams helped me and preventive creams are truly a reliever. However, my daughter was comfortable with wearing diapers.
When the winter approached I really understood the advantage of disposable diapers. Without diapers, my daughter would have slept in a pool of her own pee and being tired, I would have snored away. This, of course, would have let her catch a cold. Now I’m thankful for disposable diapers.
Potty Training Later
Comparatively, potty training the kids in cloth nappies are easy than training kids in diapers. Probably because the wetness helps kids learn sooner. If my kid was raised in India I would have started the potty training at her age of 1. That’s not the case here.
At her 15th month, I gradually started the potty training and of course, we had some setbacks in the initial days. She became diaper free at home at her 20th month and we used diapers only for travel. At her 24th month, she amazed us by getting rid of the diapers completely. We are now one diaper free family and I am proud of her.
The only way to getting around these change was expecting the unexpected. Even though it was hard to me, knowing ahead of time and understanding the cultural differences made me survived in the name of compromises.
Now as a 26-month-old my kid is coping with both traditional(Indian) and modern(American) lifestyle we impose on her. I am very proud of my daughter and I owe my whole life to her. I hope she will grow with better values and the ability to understand and work with people from different backgrounds.
Most importantly, a better human being!