KOCHU VARTHAMANAM: When Motherhood Comes Calling
On May 13, 2012
No orientation, no training, no instruction manuals either. All you have is a gut feeling that you hope to god is right. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. All you can do is wait and pray. And more importantly, do not take yourself or your child too seriously. Especially yourself. Believe me, that is the only thing that will keep you sane in this crazy job called ‘Motherhood’.
And the day the child is born is also the day the mother is born. So just like the child, moms have them too- teething troubles, growing pains, first steps… and I doubt if any mother actually starts feeling ‘motherly’ right away. It takes a while for the bonding to happen. So when does that realisation actually kick in?
When you first look down upon that tiny little thing in your arms that has been perfecting bicycle kicks within the confines of your uterus for the past few weeks, and think it is the most beautiful thing in the world while stoutly refusing to pay heed to a small rational voice in your head wondering if it doesn’t bear a strong resemblance to a wrinkled up monkey?
During one of those feedings when you are so sleep deprived that you barely know if its night or day or even what day it is and through a foggy haze you see a toothless grin?
When you start considering that being well dressed means not having any part of your body or clothing drenched in assorted bodily emissions from various infantile orifices?
When you don’t think twice before reaching out to unknot a wet shoelace that’s been through god knows what?
When your meal consists of unidentifiable mush left over in a toddler’s plate and you DO NOT even pause to think of what it actually looks like?
When you are more concerned about the bloodstain on your child’s new shirt than the scrape on his elbow because stains on the skin are easier to get off?
When you spend the day mulling over the stressful job you gave up to look after the baby and ask yourself what exactly it was that your found stressful?
When your favorite fantasy involves sleeping through the night?
When you secretly feel relieved because some medicines make your child drowsy, because that means… at least 60 minutes of ‘freedom’?
When you appreciate your sanity at the end of a long trip peppered with kicks on the back of your seat, quarrelling siblings within the close confines of a car, “Are we there yet?” and requests for bathroom emergencies when you are ten minutes on the highway after a one hour stop that included a leg stretch break, hunger break AND a bathroom break). Special merit if you haven’t given in to the temptation of ‘conveniently’ forgetting the kids at a pit stop.
When you lock yourself up in the bathroom under the pretext of taking a shower because you want to get away from dirty dishes, upturned bowls of mashed up rice, wet clothes, stinky shoes, runny noses and whiny mouths?
When you shamelessly indulge in emotional blackmail to get your child to sing/dance at a gathering of your friends just because you want to hit a few social miles?
When you drop a carefully careless remark about the pressures of the advanced courses your child is doing in school?
When you proudly congratulate yourself at the end of each day for having got through it without succumbing to violent tendencies and secretly wondering if retaliating to a child who decided to practice his drums lessons on the bottom of your pressure cooker with steel ladles for drumsticks while you were battling a full blown migraine would be considered self-defense?
When you realise that you had met an old school pal after twenty years and your conversation consisted of the merits of homeo over allopathy and the increasing rates of crimes against children? It is only the next day that you realise that you had not even touched once upon old favorites like clothes, accessories, films, songs and good-looking guys.
When you pretend that the kid who just asked out loud in the doctor’s waiting room, why the lady sitting next to you had hair growing out of her nose, is not yours?
When you realise that the only adults you have conversed with in months is your husband (asking him if he could take over diaper duty), the pediatrician (checking if its normal for a two year old to think her big sister’s fingers are yummy snacks) and your child’s teacher (who called to warn you that your toddler seems to think he is Spiderman and insists on crawling up the wall)?
When you have not watched a film in years, which did not feature talking animals or automobiles, superheroes or ditzy princesses waiting to be rescued?
When you tell with a straight face to each of your children (out of earshot of the others of course) that he or she is your favorite baby and can even come up with convincing reasons to prove your point?
When you can go from ‘timid’ to ‘tigress’ in ten seconds flat when you see a probable threat to your child?
When you mentally calculate how much money you might have made had you been paid for all you do (housekeeper/cook/cleaner/chauffeur/entertainer/shoulder to cry on/doctor/teacher/entertainer…) and think that you are a millionaire many times over?
When you threaten to post embarrassing baby pictures on your child’s Facebook wall unless he cleans his room?
When you use, “Because I told you so!” as the last and binding word in any argument where the child seems to be gaining an upper hand?
When the baby of the house spreads her wings and flies out and mentally you whoop in joy and go back indoors to appreciate the comforting silence?
When you realise you and your husband can finally get down to do the ‘Just the Two of Us in Bali’ trip you have been planning ever since you got married?
When you diplomatically refrain from reminding your daughter of her own words as a teen – “I am going to be a wonderful and understanding mother unlike you” – when you see her being strict with her own child?
Or on the day you frequently check your doorway all day long between cooking up a sumptuous meal and glancing at the clock because your child’s family was coming over for a visit and they would be home for dinner?