My journey into motherhood was going to be just that – a journey meant just for me.
To grieve the loss of motherhood was not an idea I had ever given any serious thought to. It was just assumed that my four promises to the Guruji would guide and bless us with a child one day. There was a slight pause during one of my Laavan when the embroidery thread from my Anarkali caught onto the edge of a Vaaja. I remember hearing a gasp from the sangat and glimpsing at the Raagi untangling the thread. That brief, pulsating interruption reminded me, in that moment, that my Guruji would always be near.
Whether my then romanticized image of marriage and motherhood was just a dream, it became a heavy one that I carried into the early years of what should have been marital bliss. At the time, I was juggling my role as a partner while trying to adapt to a very different climate in my new home. My husband worked away from our home quite a bit so I was left alone to face some harsh realities that surfaced in the absence of an audience. My wings were slowly being clipped and I began forming a cocoon to protect myself. After years of cruel words and interactions, an opportunity to relocate took us away from the darkness, and my cocoon slowly shed to make space for someone else to grow. That beautiful spirit left me empty, without memories of a kiss or a cuddle. It was an overwhelming love though, that still visits me often.
I don’t ever recall being privy to conversations around infertility (male or female) or miscarriage. Those subjects were always hushed away into another corner, as if to shelter the immediate youthful world from harm. To raise the subject about adoption would certainly have been a far cry from the warm, yet conservative reality I had grown up around.
And so it happened, that motherhood (in the traditional sense) was not meant to be, for me. Why I had ever held onto such a traditional notion is also beyond my comprehension now. Perhaps it gave me a sense of hope; after all, my faith had always supported me through the toughest of times and I didn’t expect to be let down now. Experiences encountered in life thus far had always pushed me to challenge all boundaries and this experience was going to be no different – I just didn’t know it yet. My journey into motherhood was going to be just that – a journey meant just for me.
It took over a decade to finally grieve that traditional dream. Hearing baby news carried heavy emotions since my perspective was so narrowed into the how of becoming a mother instead of the why of motherhood. It had been an Austen-esque dream I’d held onto for surviving some rugged terrain but I could no longer use it to excuse the harshness that continued from afar. I had always been a strong Sikh woman, never afraid to voice what I believed to be true and yet, somehow, I felt like
I’d lost myself along the way, amidst the rubble.
Ardaas is powerful. I’m not quite sure what changed in my ardaas but it evolved from expectation to acceptance – acceptance of whatever is meant to be and that was a powerful moment. The time and place is unpredictable; it can happen anywhere. That perfect moment, when you feel a spiritual pull deep inside your soul is truly worth waiting for. They say there are defining moments that redirect you in life and I believe this was mine. A sense of peace cleansed my mind and soul when I let go of all the empty expectations I’d carried around for so many years. People’s attitudes will change, we had kept thinking, but instead they only sprouted disappointment for both my husband and I. We chose to break away from the ties that were suffocating us and truly begin the union that we had promised each other over a decade ago.
As our liberation from traditional views began, so did our journey to parenthood. We were travelling away for the weekend when we heard baby news. This time it was different – it was news of our baby – a baby that had always been meant for us. A baby, who had been growing in our hearts for years now, we were finally going to meet. A baby who didn’t know what his journey into this world held for him, and for us, and who didn’t realize the beauty and unconditional love of parenthood until we traveled across an ocean and held him in our arms for the first time. When the caregiver at the orphanage, hidden from the noise and bustle of an Indian film city, tapped my shoulder, my eyes turned and locked into the child’s eyes; my arms were ready to carry this child’s dreams until he would grow his own. It was love at first sight.
Seven years later, Jehnihal lives up to the strength of his name and truly reflects our supreme happiness in life. He was meant for us in every way. Our journey was a rocky one but each time we tripped or fell, there was a guiding reason. Just as that pause during our Laaven gave me a moment to connect and gather strength, waiting for parenthood has given us time to experience loss and prepare for the beauty and love we enjoy as a family today.
Born and raised in England and of Sikh-Panjabi heritage, Navjot Kaur is inspired by diverse environments and culture. Her first children’s book, A Lion’s Mane, won the 2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award for Multicultural and International Awareness. An Educator, Children’s author and Mother, she believes that our children can become advocates for social change and uses her writing as a way to inspire them to become active global citizens.
To learn more about her, please visit www.navjotkaur.com
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