BY NIDHI D. BRUCE
When they told me that it would be easier the second time around, I laughed! How could it be any easier? It isn’t like a new baby would grow up by itself – I was prepared for the challenges. Maybe that’s what was different. The first time around – I had no doubt that I would be the perfect mother. The second time over I had no doubt – there was nothing like a perfect mother.
Between the two of them I can safely say that I am the perpetual mother in training, never looking to graduate any further. Is there anything more that I have learnt and unlearnt in the seven years of being a parent and one year of being a mother of two? Yes, there is some stuff.
It is ok
It really is. Most of the stuff that happens – nosebleeds, a temperature of 103 deg Fahrenheit, an exam paper with a dog drawn on it, and errrm even a ball point pen scratch doodle on a LED screen.
There rarely is a child who won’t fall ill or in trouble. As grievous as the consequences may feel like – right at that moment – in the bigger picture it is just another incident. Something that the passage of time will swallow.
Last week, while clearing papers from my desk, I found a doctor’s diagnosis of viral conjunctivitis for my son. The note was dated Oct ’14. And for the life of me I cannot remember the time when he had conjunctivitis. I am sure it must have been earth shatteringly scary at that point of time – but hey – it passed. And clearly, the experience has not left me permanently scarred for life!
A new normal
If life ever teaches you how to embrace a normal curve – it is after making you a parent. There is a lot that your kid will do that the world considers normal – and you will heave a sigh of relief. But then your child will sometimes decide not to conform. She will decide that talking in words is not worth her while, till she turns three. Whoever said that humans walk before they are eighteen months old? Where is it mandated that the right hand is the hand to use?
Bringing up baby will make you uncomfortable. It will find you second-guessing yourself and your decisions all the time. Well meaning strangers will aid in the process. Your child will not care. And neither should you.
All the examples I cited above? That’s my kids. They march to their own drummer. For years, my daughter would not talk more than a few words. She was a happy, energetic child otherwise. I fretted and prayed, cried and consulted specialists. Then of course, she slowly started talking and I lost track of my fretting. When my son didn’t walk till 12..13..14….17 months people bombarded me with questions and explanations. Now that the kid is running amok all over the place, I’d like to ask all those people to come and babysit.
She is not you
The very minute a child pops out – the ‘kiske jaise dikhta hai’ game begins. I have great admiration for people who can trace genealogies from a scrunched up, waxy ball of pink – which is essentially what a newborn baby is. There will be long discussions and disagreements about whose eyebrows the child has inherited. And if, a mole on the toe indicates a saint or a world-conquerer.
All these are harmless games that one must abide with. But there is also the nagging doubt within all of us: that, we may have somehow bequeathed our kids traits that we do not like in ourselves.
My daughter just has to be a little withdrawn in a social setting and I fret: Is she like me? All childhood memories of feeling distinctly uncomfortable in large groups come rushing in. I would go and sulk in a room, preferably under a bed. Sometimes my daughter does that too – and my heart breaks. But then there is so much to her that is not me. Of course, she is not me. She is She – and I have to let her be. At least I know now, that all that she wants when hiding under the bed is some quiet and maybe a cuddle later.
Days are long
..but years are short. This is especially true in the early years. There will be unending chores, illnesses, setbacks and endless nights stretching into long long days. But sooner rather than later, it will all end. Those cheeks will get just a little less plump, you will no longer have sudden assaults of projectile vomiting to deal with nor will you spend the rest of your life running around with a pair of training pants.
When my daughter first came in to the hospital to see her newborn brother, she looked suddenly huge. Compared to the teensy little being that I had just given birth to, she was louder, hairier and just – oh, not such a baby anymore. My heart just despaired with the sudden realization that for six years the baby I had held so close to my heart was actually not a baby really.
She had once been a squiggly little worm just like her brother – but now she is all grown up. She has taught my husband and me a thing or two about life. Mostly how it is like to have it upended by someone shorter than my forearm.
Yes – babies have that effect on us. They come in innocuously enough – but shake up our lives in ways that we cannot ever prepare for. Like I said in the beginning, two kids later there are some things that I have learnt – but there is a lot that I still cannot claim to know.
About the author:
Nidhi D. Bruce is a freelance writer. She writes about parenting, lifestyle, travel, trends and insights. She lives in Mumbai with her husband and two kids, who depend on her for all their daily machinations – or so she would like to believe! Find her at winparenting.com or @TypeWriterMom