The Wedding Dress Trip

Posted on November 27, 2018

A couple of months ago, after my daughter, Nitasha, got engaged and said she wanted a traditional Indian wedding, she made my heart smile with a simple question: “Mom, it’s always been my dream to go wedding shopping in India! What do you think? Will you come with me?”

Surprised and elated, I leapt for joy, almost as if I were the bride myself! “Yes! Yes!” I cried, “I’m all in.” Nitasha hugged me, we both shed a few tears of joy and love, and the planning began.

For those unfamiliar with Indian weddings, you have to understand that they are full-on, week-long productions—with three main events and three to four smaller ones, each requiring a new elaborate outfit. And while there are many chic Indian boutiques in the Los Angeles area, including dozens up and down Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia (popularly known as Little India), the variety and prices of the wares in India stand alone. If one can take the time off, and has family to stay with, the savings can easily offset the cost of making such a trip. Fortunately, we were able to afford the time and expense to make the trip.

And what a privilege it was to be asked to accompany Nitasha. I’d gone with her to pick out clothes for several engagement events, and I had noticed that more than half of the brides-to-be were shopping with their fiancés, friends, or by themselves. I even overheard one young lady say that she would never be able to shop with her mom. That was probably understandable. Many of these young women were older, more mature, and definitely more independent than those of my generation. I was honored that Nitasha liked spending time with me just as much as I liked spending time with her! There’s certainly a spark of joy when your feelings for your kids boomerang back.

There was another reason for my excitement: I had never actually been wedding shopping before, even for myself! My mom actually did all my wedding shopping for me. I just went from Kuwait (where I was born and raised) to India two weeks before my wedding for all the final fittings. It was the custom then that the mother of the bride picked out the styles, the colors, the jewelry, and all trousseau outfits. And I didn’t question it. That’s just the way things were back then. So it was all the more exciting for me to be part of my daughter’s shopping trip!

During the flight, over a glass of wine, we made a long list of all the things we had to do in New Delhi in just eight days. We landed at 8:30 a.m., and three hours later we were in the first wedding dress store. The next few jet-lagged days were packed with appointments, interspersed with laughter, disagreements, hugs, and catnaps. We soon found our rhythm, and when I didn’t like or agree with something, I practiced self-management and emotional intelligence—reminding myself that this was Nitasha’s time. Evidently, however, my daughter had perfected the art of reading my inner dialogue. I asked her how she knew what I was thinking, and she said, “You take a deep breath when you don’t like something but don’t want to say anything, and your nostrils flare up when you exhale!” We both laughed hard at that. She was so on point!

The eight days flew by faster than we had imagined. Besides wedding shopping, we managed to spend evenings with relatives and even try a couple of really great restaurants. The clothes we picked out would be sent to Los Angeles in time for the wedding next year. We accomplished a lot in a short time, but for me, the defining moment of this trip was during a detour on the way home.

We had scheduled a stop in London to meet Nitasha’s fiance’s maternal grandparents, who hadn’t been able to attend any of the engagement celebrations in the States and were yearning to meet Nitasha. During the long cab ride to their home, Nitasha took my hand and said, “Mom, I will cherish this trip for the rest of my life. I know there were times when I was frustrated or didn’t agree with you, or I was just plain tired, but you carried me through those moments with love and care. I’m so grateful I have you as my mom and friend in this lifetime.” What left me speechless was that I had been thinking the exact same thing about her.

Yes, our kids know us just as well as we know them. They can read us just as clearly as we can read them. They feel us just as strongly as we feel them. And this holds true from the early years to adulthood. If we’re dialed in, connected, and committed to this relationship mindfully and consciously, no matter how old our kids are, we will channel the growth we need to live a joyful life ourselves and pass that legacy along to our children and through them into their relationships and the world around them. This trip I had with Nitasha will be one of my fondest memories of our time spent together. It did take patience and respect, and, yes, it requires dedicated effort on both our parts, but it was oh, so worth it.