Take a look at this exerpt from my journal:
Returning home to my husband’s family’s house was great. I was growing increasingly nervous on the train ride home. When we approached the house, my husband was quick to go inside. I remained outside, with who I presume is his cousin, cooing at baby Om. When I tried to enter, his cousin told me to wait, with a serious face. I was confused. I saw his mom approaching, and she waved a jar of water in circles around me. This is supposedly to get rid of any evil energy that had attached to me. Was I supposed to touch her feet then, outside? I wasn’t sure, so I started walking inside, a more appropriate place to greet one another.
When we entered his sister in law and baby Om were smiling and waiting. Baby Om started laughing, he was so excited.
My husband instructed me to touch his mom’s feet, which I was happy to, and did, but she did not smile or seem as happy as she used to. I felt bummed out. Maybe she was unhappy with me, or I did not touch her feet quickly enough. I’m still not confident enough to do it on my own, or without knowing when to. I need guidance like a child.
The rest of the day went by fine. After eating, which his sister in law insisted I do, I washed my face and feet, and came to the room I always stay in (his brother’s room) and took a nap. I had chai upon waking, and bounced between working on my ebook and playing with the children. At dinner time, I was treated like a guest, and after eating, a cousin sister and another female guest did my mehendi. I went to bed shortly after that.
By the second day I began to lose confidence, and a few days after that, I began to feel frustrated.
Home is a place where my husband can relax and feel free, but it’s not quite a vacation for me. I can’t really leave the home, unless we are going to a family member’s house on invitation (or the one time we went to the house under construction together) and because of that, anxiety can build quickly. I am expected to have a specific morning routine at my husband’s home, I can’t do things as I would in my own home. Also, there’s simply no opportunity to work. Every time I settle in and start working, someone calls me. A week and a half of not working is not acceptable when you are living paycheck to paycheck.
When we went to visit my adopted Indian family’s home, I thought I would be able to feel as relaxed as my husband did in his own home. But actually, it was the same as any invitation. It was nice not to have to cover my head in front of my own family, but genders still separated into their own groups and I couldn’t convince him to stay with me. I found myself stuck in a room full of women, yet again, trying to understand their Hindi conversation.
The whole experience at home was good over all, and despite the few frustrating moments, there were a lot of loving moments. Such as the time Mummy brought me dinner and sweets, or the time Babu (my father-in-law) called me “Bahu” (daughter-in-law) for the first time. It felt so loving!
I also really enjoyed serving everyone dinner for the first time, at our Krishna Janmashtami (and Baby Om’s birthday) feast! Even if I was nervous… I enjoy taking the time to get to know my husband’s family. We can communicate without words, mostly, and I am always eager to help and learn.
Well anyway, I look forward to my time at home, but I hope to find a sense of balance before returning.