Few weeks ago, I had some guests at my place. One of the couples had a 3 month old daughter. She was sitting in her car calmly and everybody was talking about how lucky the parents are to have such an easy child. That is exactly when she decided to show them that there is nothing as an “Easy parenting” thing. Suddenly she started to cry hysterically and the mother jumped from her seat, took her out from the car seat and hugged her trying to console her. She took her to a silent room along with the dad, changed her diaper and clothes, tried to feed her but the baby was in no mood of giving up. She kept on crying and the mother kept comforting her until they had no choice but to leave.
The whole incident reminded me of when my little one was this tiny. Now she is six years old and very mature. But a child is always a child. One can have easy days but it can’t be easy always. That night, lying on my bed, I started to retrospect my daughter’s infant-hood. It was 41 hours of long labor and when she opened her eyes to the world, she was so delicate that I didn’t even know how to hold her. She just looked like a doll I used to play with, a little more beautiful, a lot more fragile. My husband couldn’t decide either to stand by me or to look at this miracle that was born out of me, covered in blood. It was so messy yet so pure. The doctor handed her to me and she looked at me so peacefully as if she knew me from before. Of course, she did. But that feeling was something different for me. I knew I love her but I still didn’t know how to express it. I had heard a lot about maternal love but it was still in its nascent form for me, mainly because I was so tired myself that I couldn’t live in the moment. Then the nurse took her away for some tests and asked me to rest. When I woke up, I wanted to see her again and sink in the fact that she is real. That is when I saw her coming in a trolley tray. I can never forget the sound of her crying and raising her tiny arms with her fist tightly closed. She was so beautiful and I tried to find myself in her.
When I returned from the hospital, the first night at my house was something I will never forget. I remember crying my heart out as I didn’t know how I am going to manage this forever now. My whole body was aching and I was not able to sit or lie or stand. There was no comfortable position. And above all this, the baby was continuously wailing, so there was no option to sleep too. That night, I was so scared as I thought the peace in my life is over and I will always be worried for the child. It was somewhat true, but what I didn’t know was the level of happiness and contentment that I will feel along with it. It took me sometime to realize that such a blend even exists.
As the time passed, the parenting phase kept on changing. Someday it would be very bad and someday bearable. All the phases of parenting have some or the other challenge associated with it. From being unable to sleep at night to not knowing how to keep your baby entertained, from changing diapers after every hour to convince your child to try to eat something, from teaching her words to telling her not to use a particular word everyday is undoubtedly a challenge.
Just a few years ago, I was waiting for her to be able to sit on her own so that I could put some toys around her to finish my chores. And when she started sitting, I realized that this phase comes with its own set of responsibilities. Now she wanted me to be in front of her all the time, so eventually it became even more difficult for me to finish my chores. Now I wanted her to crawl, so that she could follow me wherever I went. And when she learned to crawl, she would follow me everywhere, pulling my legs, into the kitchen, bathroom, literally everywhere. It used to take me half an hour to feed her food, so I wanted her to eat by herself. And when she learned eating by herself, she would eat only plain rice and chapatti, eventually losing all her chubbiness.
One of the first few words that she uttered was “YES”. And then after some days for every question she had only one answer i.e. “No”. I am surprised how fast the time is running. Now she talks endlessly. I imagine her growing up into a bubbly beautiful girl and I don’t know how to get maximum of every day I am spending with her. From waking her up to putting her back to sleep, she is full of life. I have never even imagined that my life would be so influenced by someone and still I could be so happy about it. She makes me happy, anxious, excited, angry, sad, everything and this is how she is making me appreciate the life that I have. She has so many roles to play. Of course, technically she is just a daughter, but I see in her my friend, my teacher, my student, my mom and most importantly my love.
Once again, when I reminiscence my first day with her, I am reminded of how I wished that phase to pass by as soon as it could. And now I want to capture every little moment with her and I blush every time she expresses her love for me. I want to hold on to her little fingers and help her cross every hurdle of her life. Her love is so demanding but I never feel trapped. Indeed, there is no joy greater than loving someone and being loved in return. And this love has no limitation. One can never know how much love is contained in one’s heart and how much is one’s ability to reach whatever extent of love is needed, unless one actually goes through that phase. For me, my love for my baby has even mystified myself.
There will not always be the perfect phase, in fact most of the time it will be imperfect. But through this imperfection comes the best experience of life and there is no doubt that the love of parents can only be felt when you are one yourself. “Easy parenting” is a myth. One can have some relatively better nights or days but it’s not always a piece of cake. Raising a child is the most challenging task because the same child is a part of the future. S/he is a leader, a teacher, a doctor and thus will influence every sector of the future that we are responsible for.
“Having a baby is a life-changer. It gives you a whole other perspective on why you wake up every day.” –Taylor Hanson