Global Mama: USA

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I “met” Sharoon Sunny after she stumbled on this blog, left a comment and sent an e-mail my way. Sharoon was already in my good books with her kind words about the blog, then she asked about the  “Whoa, Mama!” Worldwide global studies project. Instant bloggy buddy!

Sharoon and her husband moved to Dallas from Bangalore, India, six years ago. Then two years ago, came the “cuddle bug,” Neil. A former Montessori teacher and travel writer, Sharon is now “a full-time mommy, devoting her life to raising her only child and in the process, hoping to find the mantra to unravel life’s many mysteries.”

Here’s her story …

Life before baby …
I can’t seem to think of that life anymore. It seems so long ago. But, yes, there was a life before my child and it was a good one. There was college, girlfriends, plenty of travel, movies, music, theatre, and so much fun stuff. It all helped me grow into the person I am today.

My ideas about motherhood …
When my husband and I first met, he asked me what I thought about having kids. I told him then, as a naive 20-year-old, “I want to have a house full of kids.” I have a big family, and I wanted to have something similar. But my husband did not want kids. Over the years I began to buy into his theory of not wanting to take on such a huge commitment and responsibility. I was intensely nervous about the kind of mother I’d turn out to be.

I was paranoid about losing my individuality, freedom and personal space. Then I decided to talk to other mothers. Not a single mother ever told me that she regretted her decision to have children. So my husband and I thought it through, and wisdom eventually dawned on both of us—we decided to have our first one.

Then came Neil …
I got a job three days after I found out I was pregnant. Determined to be a working mom, I worked through my pregnancy. Then came our little cuddle bug! I love him to pieces and there isn’t a day that I don’t ask my husband why we took so long to have him.

But nobody prepares you for what comes after baby. The engorgement  in your breasts, the sleepless nights, the diaper routines, the lack of interest in anything husband-y, the stinky body, undone hair, and, most of all, the emotional and mental dives. This in spite of my son being such an easy baby. I told myself that it would pass.

My mother came down from India and my sister flew in from Australia to help. This was the first grandchild in the family and my mom’s first trip abroad. So it became a journey of metamorphic proportions for her. I’m so glad my family was there to help.

The most challenging part of motherhood …
To understand that one needs to let go of the notion of “I.” This was the hardest part for me, accepting that I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things I enjoyed doing. Things that defined me. I had to learn to let go.

I enjoyed going to work and looked forward to it. But with my husband traveling most of the time, it became harder to manage. I decided to quit. I resented it. I was bitter, angry and depressed.  Those days were the hardest on all of us. I felt like I was in postpartum every day of the week.

I’ve finally made peace with my decision to stay home. I cherish every single day that I am with Neil because I know I won’t get these years back.

In India, your family always pitches in. Not being able to pick up that phone and call my mom when I want to or have her come visit are things I accept with an aching heart. Friends and neighbors are always a part of your childhood memories because they help raise not just their own, but children of friends and neighbors, too. I miss that.

Once my mom and sister left, I was alone. My single friends began to distance themselves and, at that point, I had yet to make any mommy friends. It was a pretty lonesome and frustrating time.

My husband’s job brought us to the U.S. six years ago …
I remember when we first moved, I had a hard time unlearning everything from traffic laws to turning water faucets in the opposite direction. In India, you drive on the left-hand side, turn the water tap to the right, turn the switches down to turn it on, and open the door on the right side.

Bangalore is a perfect concoction of old-world charm and modern outlook; a heady mix of the young and the young-at-heart, mantras and Bollywood music. It is also a tech savvy city that is well-rooted in its traditions. More than anything else it is home to me and always will be.

The transition [to the U.S.] was a bit choppy for me at first, but I’ve learned the ropes.

The best part about raising a child in the U.S …

  • The resources available for children and mothers. The library is our daily haunt. It is such a fantastic system and we love them for all the fun stuff they offer
  • The clean, big, green parks for children
  • The easy access to medical care
  • The cultural diversity that abounds here; we’ve made friends from all over the world

The parts I wished were different …

  • Weather – We have a total of three months of good weather. I miss the tropical, temperate climate in Bangalore. The sunny, warm days; the blissful monsoons; the colorful autumns; and the mild winters
  • Dallas is big and spread out. So it doesn’t give us too many opportunities to walk. Bangalore on the other hand is a walking city. Hoards of people ply the streets everyday. There is always someone who will stop to chat your baby up
  • Festivals – We have to have good weather in the Big D to get out. The street festivals, the religious celebrations are all fantastic in Bangalore. I wish we could have some of that here all year round
  • Public Transport – Dallas is small when it comes to connectivity and public transport

Best piece of advice I ever heard …
If you are a mother then you are bound to be judged by family, friends, and sometimes by absolute strangers. But don’t ever let that get you down, because you are the best mom you know.

If we could jump into a DeLorean and race back in time …
I would remind myself everyday of God’s great blessings and to always look at the bigger, wider picture.

For more on Sharoon and her musings on love, life and motherhood, visit Sunny Blog.