8 a.m 3rd October 2002 – Getting ready for a check up with the gynaecologist. I’m 5 days away from the EDD (expected date of delivery). Talking about delivering a baby here. My first one.
9.30 a.m. “Hope your bag is ready?” asked the doctor.”Go back home, get your things and get admitted. The baby is ready to arrive. If we wait for it (the gender of the baby is a secret in India) to grow more, a normal delivery might be hard to achieve. We will induce labour”, announced the doctor.
My live and life-long project was about to take off.
12 p.m. You don’t want to know the rest.
There is a reason why the delivery of a baby is called labour. It’s a warning for what lies ahead.
The baby was born at noon the next day on 4th october and is celebrating her 18th birthday this year!
You are promised the ‘glowing’ with babies, but there is only ‘slowing’ and ‘growing’ (in size). The first baby is a nightmare, a delight, a miracle and magic all at once. And a struggle forever.
You’ve had the time to prepare yourself with all the books there are, with enough attention and advise, yet lacking in the experience and ‘mind muscle’ to tackle the little cooing and gurgling machine, every minute of the day for months to come.
It takes just about a few weeks to throw those books on childcare somewhere in the corner, to collect dust never to be seen again!
Everything first in her life is a first for you as a mum. You see the baby as an extension of yourself. The umbilical is always attached. It takes another baby, and a few varied experiences to alter your ideas around mothering and you begin to see the child as a separate being.
You slowly learn how not to cry when she cries, how not to whine when a tantrum happens; how her play is her work, her performance and grades are hers, and not yours; how growing up is what she has to go through and you cannot make it magical or pain free.
All you can do is Be there, remain calm, show up at every single moment the child needs you and be your real imperfect self. The prowess you require is a heart full of love and commitment.
Things begin to get peaceful when you allow the child to lead the way, to lead you.
Children have oodles to explore and discover, a great deal to share with and show you. You merely have to allow them to experience life, sit around and listen. Listen with patience. Listen to understand. Listen to believe them. Listen without interrupting or commenting.
Time teaches you when to push them, and when to back off; when to help them and when to let them make mistakes; when to talk and when to just listen; how to begin loosening the cord and eventually find the strength to let them go.
They say that time moves in a straight line, but in fact it circles ! And it circles just too fast! Here I remember turning eighteen and someone comes along to remind you,”that was decades ago!”
Parenting is perhaps the most back- breaking, soul-wrenching, neck-aching, and myth-shattering job I have ever done. It is also one of the most heart-throbbing, love-filling, mind-stretching, strengthening & self-esteem building role a human could ever play.
It can take months, years, perhaps a lifetime to find peace in your parenting experience – truly an experiment at every stage and every single day. When you’ve learnt to tackle your ducklings at A stage, they’ve moved on to the next!
You find parenting hard, because it is hard, not because you are a bad parent. You are raising a human baby after all.
As a species, humans are incredibly smart. Human intelligence however comes with a curious caveat- our babies are among the most helpless at birth.
A baby giraffe can stand within an hour of birth, and can even potentially flee predators on its first day of life. A baby monkey can grasp its mother and hang on for protection and nourishment. A human infant can’t even hold up its own head.
Humans belong to the subset of mammals, called viviparous mammals, that give live birth to their young. This means that infants must grow to a mature enough state inside the body to be born, but they can’t be so big that they are unable to come out. This leads to a trade off — the more intelligent an animal is, the larger its head generally is, but in humans the birth canal imposes an upper limit on just how large that head can be before it gets stuck. The brain, therefore, must keep maturing, and the head must continue growing, long after birth. The more intelligent an animal will eventually be, the more relatively immature its brain is at birth – something I learnt along the way, that explained why parenting the human baby is so tough and why new mums look like they’ve been shot out of a cannon!
As children mature, they teach you life’s greatest lessons. Children are the greatest gurus. They make you a better person. Better you in every way. They help you to move ahead by compelling you to draw on your strengths, as you chase their amazing pace of growth.
Mothering cannot be taught. Motherhood is your journey. It has to be lived. Its your unique story. You write it. Wrong it. Right it.
Here to hear ♡ your story,
Rohini – Counsellor
For my young lady who turns 18 on 4 October 2020:
Happy 18th my brightness, my paradise, my story teller; my chaos & my calm, the spontaneous to my plans, my baby with bright curious eyes and no sleep in them, grown up to be a sincere and compassionate young lady.
Live in lifelong curiosity – to hunger for knowledge and to thirst for experience.
Remain as kind and generous as you are
and make a palpable difference to the lives you cross.
Believe in yourself and the power of the tiniest contributions.
Overcome challenges with intelligence and grace.
Believe in the power of “will try again” and “next time”.
Go hunting when you’re hungry and be big enough to share the catch when you make it.
Forever the ‘art’ in my he’art’.
My brightness. My Tvisha.