Now, it’s my turn and it officially started last September 20.
You know what’s frustrating about ge-lai other than the ordeal of not taking a bath for a month? It’s knowing I do have a choice not to follow it, but deciding against what I want because of guilt. And I’d be guilty of not taking care of myself as there’s no harm in following the rules. And if I do cheat and take a bath before an entire month passes, I’d be cheating myself. Am I making any sense?
They said that if I get sick during my ge-lai and I don’t recover, this illness could only be cured in the next ge-lai. That means, after I give birth to the next child. Thankfully, I didn’t catch anything bad with my first two children. Hopefully, I won’t now with my third. And she’ll be the last kid so I won’t have a next ge-lai to look forward to (or to dread). This is the reason why I’m having second (and third) thoughts about bathing just four days shy of October 20. What do you think? Should I?
I know that it’s absurd and yucky not to bathe for that long (of course I wash what’s needed to be washed, still, I am tempted to spray Febreze or Lysol on myself already), but that is part of my Filipino-Chinese culture.
With my eldest, I think I followed what should be ingested and what shouldn’t be done to the letter. With my second, not so much. Life got in the way. I had to cook and teach the inexperienced helpers to wash the baby bottles, both of which were said I shouldn’t do. Also, I was so thirsty I drank water instead of the o-tso tea that was supposed to replace water. And now that I am breastfeeding, I chug down so much water so to sustain my milk supply by being hydrated. I also eat ordinary food when there were supposed to be special meals just for me. It depends on the circumstances my family is under.
Although the elders will encourage or nag younger Filipino-Chinese moms to follow this particular custom, I think it’s still a personal choice and only the one who gave birth could really tell if she needs this type of “rest” or not. It is her body after all, and only she is responsible for it.