Babyland – Episode 2

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.

Image sourced from Pixabay

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.

Image sourced from Pixabay

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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

That special breed of women

A very close friend of mine once told me something that plays in my mind from time to time, when I see my wife play with our baby. He told me that the eldest child will always remain special to a mother in one way. The eldest child is the one who grants the mother the gift of motherhood. The eldest child is the first person to ever call her, mother. That, will always stay in her memory, my friend said.

From the very day that we were born, till the day the call comes to meet our creator, this special breed of women known to all, as mothers, have always been around us. They brought us out into this world, literally. They fed us, irrespective of the hour. They cleaned us and after us, regardless of the mess we made. They comforted us when we were upset. They instilled us with good and positive values. They taught us our first word. They sang our first nursery rhyme. They simply remained at an arm’s length away, from us.

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As we learned to crawl, walk and run, mothers would remain at an arm’s length away, keeping an eye on our every move, if possible, every second of the day. They would hover around us as we took our little baby steps, trying to keep us safe yet at the same time prompting us to figure out how to walk on our own. They encouraged us to befriend that other baby, toddler or child. They inculcated in us to politely greet our elders and people around us. They reminded us to say thank you when someone did something for us. They prompted us to give hugs, kisses and say our good-byes to our elders and those around us, when it was time to part ways. They gave us disapproving looks when we were up to no good and reprimanded us when we did something wrong.

As we grew up from a toddler to a child, they held our hands as we took our first step into playschool, nursery, kindergarten and then school. They would have struggled, to let go of our hands. They would have fought to keep their tears of joy at bay, seeing us all dressed up, with our bag full of stationery and books, ready for school. They would have packed food and water, enough to feed at least two, as we prepared to leave for school. They would have reminded us of a plethora of things as we left for school, from study hard and listen to your teacher to don’t forget to eat your food on time. They remained then, only an arm’s length away.

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As we moved into our teens, they kept doing the things that they have always been doing for us through our childhood. Getting our clothes washed, preparing our meals, reminding us of any number of things that we need to do or may have forgotten to do, buying us anything that we may need and so much more. They would laugh at our jokes when we shared one with them, cheer us on to our victories when we invited them along, comfort us after a long day when we allowed them to do so and give us precious advice when we gave them the opportunity to do so. They would long to have a conversation with us, to listen to us speak like we spoke to them during our childhood and to simply allow them into our lives. No matter what, they remained only an arm’s length away.

Then, as we became adults, they continued to do things that they have done for us, from birth through childhood and the teens. They continued to mother us at a time when we feel that we are old enough to fend for ourselves. They continued mothering us even when we became parents ourselves. They would still cook and feed us. They would still wash for us. They would still clean up after us. They would still offer us advice. They would still remind us of any number of things that needs remembering. They would still nurse us through our illness. They would always be proud with all that we have accomplished and continue to do. They would simply be happy to have us around them. No matter our age or station in life, they remained only an arm’s length away.

Image sourced from Pexels

This special breed of women, known as mothers, can never stop mothering us. It is in-built in them, from the moment they introduced us to this world till their last breath. They would have made sacrifices from their career, leisure, hobbies, interests and others, just so they can be our mothers. The price that they may have paid to remain as our mothers might have been steep. Many would have made this journey as a mother, together with their husbands. Some might not have been so lucky for various reasons and would have walked alone in the journey of motherhood, as a single mother. Yet, if you were to ask them, they would say that they would have done it all over again, just to mother us. They would always want to remain only at an arm’s length away from their children.

For all that this special breed of women have done and will continue to do in their lives, they don’t really expect anything or much, in return. They don’t expect huge and expensive gifts or lavish and grand dinners. They don’t expect to be served at their every beck and call or to be taken out for dazzling and wonderful holidays. They don’t expect to be treated to a relaxing and gentle massage or be given a bouquet of fragrant and beautiful flowers. All they would probably want, is the opportunity to mother us and be in touch with us.

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A call just to say hello would not hurt. A visit to meet them in person would be wonderful. It would not harm us to spend a little time with our mother, not when they have spent almost their entire adult life with us. Remembering our mothers, be it one single day in the year or every day of the year, would not take much of our time. Allowing them to remain a part of our life rather than apart from our life, would not cost much, not when they have paid a much higher price, being our mother. After all, all that they may want, is to be able to mother us and be only at an arm’s length away, be it in person or simply in thought.

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So, on this Mother’s Day, I would like to wish this special breed of women, known to us all as mothers, a very Happy Mother’s Day. To my dear friends and relatives who are mothers, keep up the great job mothering your children and yes, your husbands too. To my mother-in-law, thank you for mothering a great woman, whom I am proud to call my wife. To my dear wife, thank you for being a great mother to our baby and yes, for mothering me as well. Most importantly, to my dearest mother, thank you for being my mother and for continuing to mother me, even when I am very certain and adamant that I am old and wise enough, to not need mothering anymore.

P.S.: The featured image was sourced from Pexels.