“The magic thing about home is it feels good to leave and it feels even better to come back.” -Wendy Wunder
Seven years ago, I packed a small carry-on suitcase with a few essentials and ran away from my home in pursuit of something… unknown. It was a difficult period in my life plagued by many disappointments. Uncertainty lurked around every corner and in many ways, I was naive to the possibilities. I was cracked but not yet broken and I had faith in the future that awaited me. Sometimes you have to believe in something bigger than yourself… even when the odds feel stacked against you. The weeks and months that followed proved to be transformational, to say the least. There were days when I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and admit defeat, but something inside me kept going, pushing me to knock down walls I’d inadvertently built and build bridges wherever water had run over, until a more authentic, resilient version of myself emerged from the rubble. It’s hard to imagine but, there’s more room in my heart now than ever before and, the right people… my people!… have found their way back into my life!
Life is changing again… and this time, instead of running away, I’m running towards it with arms wide open. Going back home has never felt more special as it did this past weekend. Even though the trip was short, I was able to spend quality time with those that truly mattered to me. I will never forget the look of joy on my father’s face when he saw my pregnant belly or the wide eyed amazement of my little niece and nephew when they felt the baby kick! Seeing my loved ones all gathered together to celebrate the new life growing inside me, supporting me and my partner through this journey, showering us with blessings, was beyond anything I could’ve ever asked for. Such community and strength is what propels us forward as human beings…
Here are the highlights from this weekend.
Valaikappu/Seemantham: A traditional South Indian Baby Shower
The Valaikappu or bangle ceremony is a more informal ceremony performed by the family and friends of the mother-to-be. Glass Bangles are the most significant as the music of them tapping together is supposed to awaken the babies senses. Typically the mother-to-be wears them for the remainder of her pregnancy, but I had to take them off during travel.
The Seemantham is typically performed during the 7th month of the pregnancy to invoke the blessings of the Goddess to ease the passage of birth. The word “Seemantham” refers to parting the hair just above the eyebrow where the Goddess of Wealth, Sri Mahalakshmi, resides. This leads to the practice of applying kumkum to the part in order to propitiate the Goddess such that when a woman delivers a child, she is considered the embodiment of the Goddess herself. Photo Credit: Sai Lakshmi (aka Shuba Akka)
In between planning and preparing for the ceremony, we were able to sneak away for an hour to have some pictures taken by the very talented Jakob Lagerstedt. To be around my siblings and to have their unconditional love means everything to me! Photo Credit: Jakobfoto
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? A friend asked. Nothing, I replied. What? You better be getting something, she said, hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman scorned on Valentine’s Day. Haha. Funny. Funny. But, I was fuming inside.
Why do we place such a high value on an overly commercialized hallmark holiday? Why do we let a box of chocolates define our love?
Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not against cuddly stuffed animals or chocolate covered strawberries or romantic candlelit dinners… I love them all equally. And, it’s not that I don’t love my partner. I do. I do. And, I don’t have any religious objections to this day, though I’m not exactly a Christian. But, I absolutely loath being forced into indulging in these fabrications peddled by a profit-mongering corporation. I think the holiday, which is not really a holiday by the way, is total crap! And, if that sounds offensive to you then you can stop reading here.
It’s estimated that the people in the US will spend somewhere around $20 billion on this year’s holiday. Wow, that’s a whole lot of cards, roses and candy! There will be cupid infused cocktails and mood inducing main courses in restaurants all across the country. Marriage proposals, romantic getaways, great sex are not only expected but par for the course. And, if you’re single, no sweat… you can refashion this holiday as single awareness day and treat yourself to whatever you want. Oddly, this designer holiday leaves no one behind. Love is a universal commodity and this $20 billion industry has even suckered elementary kids into sending and receiving classroom valentines. I’ve seen many of my ‘mom friends’ spending hours and hundreds of dollars preparing for this mandatory school assignment. While it may seem like harmless fun for some, I can’t help but wonder what kind of message are we sending our kids about love and relationships that we pick one day to say I love you?
Shouldn’t every day be Valentine’s day?
I think about the thoughtful life I’m trying to create with my partner, where we attach meaning and significance to our decisions and I can’t help but feel trapped by all of this hype. I don’t want to seem like a party-pooper, but I could care less if my partner buys me flowers or a card on Valentine’s Day, because he does so much more for me on a daily basis. Just last weekend, he insisted on taking me shoe shopping, in spite of my objection, to buy a decent pair of cushion-y sneakers for my growing prego feet. How thoughtful is that?! And, as he was walking out the door this afternoon, he handed me a folded piece of paper with a cute note scribbled on it… and my heart just melted.
I will take this over a prefabricated card any day! Who says romance is dead?
It’s easy to pull out all the stops for one day and profess your unconditional love when surrounded by the perfect setting. But, to live out that love every single day… when my favorite cereal necessitates an extra trip to the grocery store in the opposite direction, or my latest online shopping return requires an added trip to the post office before rush hour, or my late night cravings demands a special scrambling to the kitchen while half asleep… that is a lot harder!
That is what true romance is all about… and if you ask me, is the real spirit of Valentine’s Day!
My dad asked me to translate the poem he wrote for my mom… Oh boy! How do you refuse a hopeless romantic?! While it was incredibly hard capture his raw feelings in English, (let’s face it, my dad is a fantastic writer and sometimes the English language is woefully inadequate!), I attempted to distill the gist of his sentiments in this poem. Hope you like it.