Before my wife and I had our baby, our closest experience with babies was that of carrying and playing with the babies of our friends and cousins. They were kind enough to let us fuss over their baby when we visited or met up with them. Now for those who may not be aware, babies are absolutely cute and adorable. They are fun to play with and fuss over, at least when they are in a good mood. All fun ends when they start bawling. That is usually when we return the baby back to the sender. They always seemed to know what to do.
We learned pretty much on the very first day, that with our little baby, there is no such thing as return to sender. We are the “senders”. We had to know how to deal with him. So, just as numerous parents would have done with their baby before us, we too started our process of learning the “how to handle your baby”, on the very day that we met him. Now, we have always loved our parents all our lives and admire them for all that they have done and achieved in their lives. However, our admiration for our parents and all parents in general, went up several notches, since our baby came into our lives, now that we have a baby and are experiencing life as parents ourselves.
To start with, there is the general lack of sleep and rest, something that I had covered in “Babyland – Episode 1“. I have seen many fathers and mothers come in to work looking like they could use an hour or two of extra sleep. I felt for them and would tell them to go home early and have some good rest if they don’t have anything due urgently. They usually responded wearily with a mixed look, bordering somewhere between gratefulness and amusement. I do realise now, the folly of such advice no matter how well intended it might have been then.
Lack of good sleep and rest is generally the norm since our baby came into our lives. Good rest with uninterrupted sleep is indeed a luxury these days. We are definitely grateful for the rare occasions when baby chooses to sleep through the night or when he goes for a sleep-over with his grandparents. Thankfully, our little one is slowly getting his routine sorted out over the past few months. I suppose, he feels that his parents do need some rest at night, if they are going to play with him the next day. Then again, having observed other parents and recalling our experiences with our parents, I suppose parents just don’t get to rest until their brood has grown up. Even then, it is just ever so slightly.
Next, is the amount of worrying that creeps into the mind and dealing with it effectively. We experienced it for the first time, about two months in, when our little friend was feverish in the middle of the night, over a weekend. We had no idea why he was having fever or what we were to do at that time. My mind was racing away, imagining the worst, having heard of stories from some of our friends, about the time their baby was admitted in the hospital due to fever or an infection. Thankfully with some advice from our parents and support over Whatsapp from doctors that we knew, we managed to bring his temperature down.
Other than health, there is also the worrying about his future education. Listening to our friends talk about schools, comparing the standards between public and private schools as well as the cost associated with private schools, gives us the creeps. Then hearing from others about how expensive higher education is these days, just multiplies the worry to another level. If it is that expensive and complicated now, how would it be when it is time for him to study?
Besides health and education, there is also the worry about safety of our baby, within the house and when he goes out of it. Trying to keep our baby away from the risky areas at home is in itself trying, now that he moves around at speeds nearing that of speeding bullets. There are the power points, television, edges of chairs and tables, high areas ranging from our sofa, chairs, to the television rack, kitchen drawers and cabinets, refrigerator and the balcony. Keeping him safe around these areas takes a lot of creativity and sudden bursts of energy.
Then, regular news about the weird and dangerous people out there and the things that they do to children regardless of age, can at times be overwhelming. Reading about children being kidnapped, molested, raped, abused and other such sad news, make us wonder as to the kind of society and world that we are bringing up our baby in. If it was possible, I would love to wrap our baby up in bubble wraps and keep him close but then that is not how one brings up a child, is it?
Other a general lack of good rest and being worried around the clock, one other thing that increases our admiration and respect for parents in general, is the way a child is brought up. As our baby starts to become more independent, we have to figure out how we are to discourage him from doing something wrong or dangerous. We have to learn how to punish him constructively, when he does something even after being reprimanded, without limiting his ability to do things on his own, confidently. We have to recognise the balance between teaching him something against making him dependent on us to learn things rather than discovering them on his own. We have to identify how to inculcate good values in him and make him feel for it naturally instead of forcing it upon him.
We want him to learn to respect people around him and not feel that it is his right to have things his way. Being the only child, at least for now, we want him to understand that it is important to share things with others, especially when it is limited in number, rather than thinking that it belongs only to him. We want him to be helpful and mindful of others and not become a selfish person who only thinks of himself. We want him to become someone useful to the society instead of one who becomes a burden.
I guess parenting may not be something that is easy to start with. The path of parenting will be full of potholes and sharp corners. We may make mistakes but more importantly we will just have to figure out how to correct it and bounce back from it. Someone, a parent himself, told me once, that no parents are ever ready to be parents. I suppose we all learn along the way and improvise as we move along. With faith in God, I believe we will be just fine. After all, we are the “senders” and in fact, we couldn’t have “received” something more precious from God, our little baby.
P.S.: Featured image is sourced from Pexels.