7 ways to pass down culture to your children

Indian_Spices

I am a first generation South Asian American so when I moved across the country from my family, it didn’t hit me as to how far I was until I had my daughter.

Of course we have FaceTime and make frequent trips to NY from California, but the things I had missed about home are not often able to be transferred over our iPad screen.

It’s the smell of fresh ghee, the sound of my grandmother crushing cardamom in the pestle, the echo of my mother’s voice during her meditative chanting, the whispers of ancient stories my grandfather told me as my eyes fluttered to sleep as a young girl.

So when my daughter made her way into my life, I found myself learning how to make ghee for her baby food, grinding spices for our family dinners, chanting and reading stories of ancient celestial battles and magical forests to her, too.

It’s what I know of as culture and childhood, of home, and it’s so deep within me that I was surprised how much I figured out on my own once I moved away.

I often get told by my friends who stayed in the same town as their parents how surprised they are at the traditional indian dishes I make or at how much I study yoga philosophy.

“My parents just make food and drop it off, easier than me doing it!”

Without that luxury, it was up to me, just as it was for my own parents when they moved thousands of miles from their parents and motherland to carry on the turmeric infused love. There are still days I call my grandmother (who lives with my parents) and ask her what spices I need for certain dishes. I noticed that as I did things myself, it allowed me to feel confidant that one day, I would hopefully be able to tell my grown up daughter what she needs when she calls me from her stove.

Often, my own parents and in-laws wonder why my husband, who is also Indian, and I know about things like Ayurveda, parts of their heritage that they never looked back upon or even have knowledge of after leaving their country decades ago for a better life in America.

And just so you know, I wasn’t always like this.

As a first generation American, I adapted quickly to the red, white and blue of summer BBQ’s, watched the latest Disney movies and even had a crush on Johnny Depp during my teenage years.

But the colors of Navratri festivals, fresh coconut from the temple, my father’s savory Sunday vegetables simmering in masala that filled the air of our home were just as evident as American Thanksgiving feasts for me, whether I wanted that or not, (the contents of those feasts in my home are another story you can read here  lol).

For many years, I grew up in an extended family. My parents were the first of both their families to move to America from India, so for much of my childhood, we had relative after relative come live with us until they got on their feet. My dad’s sisters and their families, my mom’s sisters and my cousins, and even my mother’s parents eventually came on over.

There were times, I remember like many first generation children feel, that these things were embarrassing.

In the “ew, what are you eating” at school lunch at my packed pooda, to “why aren’t you allowed to sleepover” when birthday party sleepovers became a craze, the “how many people live in your house?” when someone came over to the awe at high school dating rules of many asian families: “you can’t have a boyfriend until you want to get married???” Or even my red face when a friend would ask what the smell was in the car if my grandfather drove us somewhere and we caught whiffs of his coconut hair oil, (I now use coconut oil for everything).

It’s why I flocked to the other first generation Indians, Koreans, Puerto Ricans, Israelis of my schooling days.

They got it when we had to cover up if boys were going to be at a party. They knew how important getting straight A’s were.

And then as I got older, this gift my parents gave me, this culture, became not so embarrassing as my non-Indian friends gawked at the beauty of my flowing saris and boys asked me the meaning of my name in college, (opposite of when kids made fun of it on the playground).

Now as adults, my husband and I eagerly invite our Russian, Filipino, American and fellow Indian friends amongst many others for Diwali in our home, who equally love the flavors, sights and sounds as much as we do.

It fills my heart in a way I can’t describe when my daughter asks if she can wear a bindi to school, when she tells me loves eating “green wheels” (an indian okra dish I make) or when I see her in child’s pose breathing alongside me. [Read more…]

tuesday tip: five beauty must haves for all moms

All mommas can attest to not having time.  No matter if you work, if you stay home, if your situation is a combination of the two or something completely different.  You’re busy juggling all the different things you need to get done in the mere 24 hours you’ve been given for your kids, for your partner, for your job, for your…dare I say SELF?!!  Yes, YOURSELF.  Today’s tip is simply about taking a few minutes in each day to perk up with a few simple essentials.  These are easy to use products that you can apply in less than the time it takes to change a diaper.  Feeling good on the inside projects on the outside but keeping the outside together…well there’s no shame in that.  It feels good to feel good…both inside and out.  When you do, then it makes your entire day that much better no matter how crazy it gets.  Here are some of the beauty must have’s I keep in my bag for simple beautification on the go, including skin hydrators, oil reducers, lip colors, make up refreshers and eye poppers.  Feel good and look good mommas!

a letter to the career-oriented mom

Career oriented mom

The other night at dinner I overheard a group of moms discussing living life as a career-oriented mom.  Out of the group of 5 moms, 2 were SAHM, 2 were just moms who worked a 9-5 and didn’t care to go beyond that and 1 who had high ambitions to grow within her company.  Is any situation better than the other?  Absolutely not, as a mom one thing I have learned is that no mom will ever have the same situation and that’s what makes them unique.

I was OK with the conversation until they started ganging up the career-oriented mom.  They started asking her:

“Why in the world she would ever want to focus on career when she is so lucky to have kids.”

“Why she puts herself before her kids and her husband?”  

“Does she ever think she will get to where she wants to be because kids will always be priority?”

“Doesn’t her husband think she is not doing enough at home?”

The questions didn’t shock me because as a very career-oriented mom myself, I have heard it all.  What shocked me was that the career-oriented mom actually started second guessing herself just from hearing all those comments which inspired me to write this letter.

Dear Career-Oriented Mom,

You are a true inspiration that you have found a way to balance your life to make your family and yourself happy. Sometimes yes you feel like you have no balance and either you are drowning at work or at home but that doesn’t make you any less of a parent or sophisticated women.  In fact it drives you to try harder to find that balance. [Read more…]