Motherhood changes you in every way imaginable. Physically – yes. Hormonal-ly -yes. Mentally- yes. Priorities – Big time. But the most important thing, I have learned as a mother is to hold my horses when the urge to react/respond/retort was on the verge of touching the sky, given the fact that my son leaves no stone unturned in bungling my anger management routine. Sometimes, I sit back and look at him when he sleeps. His perfectly cherubic face overflows with unfathomable innocence. For a second, I forget about the dangerous mischiefs he resorts to, like chasing poisonous spiders of all sizes, calling out to the langoorsoutside or trampling any kind of insect, big or small under his tiny feet, totally oblivious to the fact that they could be poisonous too. His olive shaped eyes, his little sharp nose, his small pout and his calm demeanor (only when he sleeps) makes me feel as if I am the worst parent on earth for having shouted, hollered and at times, giving this little cuppy cake of mine, the treatment of ‘Don’t spare the rod’, leaving him crying his lungs out as though, “whatever did I do that you are so angry with me?”. (A strong word of caution: Never ever read books on parenting when you are gestating your bundle of joy !). So have I learnt, children have to be made to understand the meaning of a line drawn, a frontier, a boundary, from a very young age, given the deteriorating social fabric of this world. These days, I help my son understand, how dangerous mischief can lead to big problems such as a spider bite could give you boils all over the body (My son already suffered one instance). A year back, my son used to climb on the dining table and call out to me and say, “Mom! I am going to jump”. My first reaction was, “No! You are going to get hurt! Please!” The episode continued for weeks. Hubby after noticing my exasperation asked me to step aside and said, “Ok Son! Jump! You will enjoy it!” And, A jumped only to realize that the ‘it’ his father referred to, was pain! Children learn certain gospels of life from their own experience no matter how much as a parent we fan over them. Of course, he has comprehended laws of gravity in his own way and, is cautious with heights.
As a mother I have often observed myself in too many avatars. Loving mother, angry mother, sulking mother, enthusiastic mother, emotional mother, worried mother, ‘lost in thoughts’ mother, crying mother, laughing mother, ‘sleeping with eyes open’ mother, feverish mother, tired mother and a hyper active mother too! Did I forget to mention, a multitasking mother? It is here I must mention that I have surprised myself in improbable ways. Talk about patience. I thought I never had it. Not that I have mastered it now or, am the most patient mother on earth. Far from it! However, I have transformed from an active volcano to a dormant one. (explodes occasionally yet unpredictably). After all those sleepless nights of nursing my little one, cleaning baby poop, wearing maternity gowns and bras, cuddling the little one on the slightest outcry and a lot more, motherhood has definitely made me a better woman. Not to mention, a bold multi-tasker too. However, what I gathered from being a mother is, you can never plan something in your head and execute it the way you planned. Motherhood is all about learning and unlearning and then, learning again. Speaking of which, here are some of my delightfully crazy experiences, albeit concealing a few lessons!
The second thing I learned is, parenting is a journey of erudition and thrills. It is like giving an exam. Only you are not aware of the syllabus. You just need to comprehend the way this little budding mind thinks and perceives the world around. When parenting forums in social media were rife about ‘what a child should eat’, ‘when a child should sleep’, ‘should the child watch tv or not’, ‘how should a child study?’ et al, I was busy learning my son’s interests and aptitude. For example, when my son was two, I gave him crayons, fevicryl colors, paint brushes, pencils and erasers. He first inspected all the items and then, chose crayons first with which, he tried random doodling on the sheets I gave him. One by one, he put them away. Then he chose the colors and the paint. Now, I am not an artist, but I knew a little about the brush strokes and guided him. He enjoyed playing with the wet colors and unleashed what he had in his mind by thumb printing and splashing the colors on the paper to his heart’s content. To see a hyper active toddler busy and smiling at the same time, is a feat!
Much has been said about watching TV for adults and kids alike. Thankfully, hubby and I have common interests when it comes to watching TV. We love watching MasterChef Aus, Comedy Central and everything on FOX Life! As for my son, I have never deprived him of watching TV. Whenever it was TV time, I showed him both cartoons and channels like NatGeo and Discovery. Later, I learnt that his inclination was more towards Nature and its wonders. Not that he loves cartoons any less (Motu Patlu and Ninja Hattori are his favorites), but he loves animals and their lives even better. And it is from my son, I have learnt to appreciate the beauty of nature. His keen observation of the different birds that visit our porch early mornings, his vivid description of crocodiles and alligators from Animal Planet, his explanation on how leopards and cheetahs were different (The one time I made a mistake of calling a cheetah, a leopard….!!) and how monkeys steal (Monkey thieves of Jaipur) made me wonder how much his mind could have absorbed from what is shown on these channels. Not forgetting to mention, my son is an ardent animal lover (except he loves trampling insects with his bare feet!)
As a mother, I learnt how important communicating is. My son and I take long walks together in the evenings. Did I mention, he is talkative? He can incessantly chatter away from one topic to another just the way some teenager in Spain would be practicing parkour. Sometimes, I don’t even remember where the conversation started. There would be some interesting stories that he skillfully concots from the given few characters he encounters on the road say, a dog, a crane, a monkey etc….. These days, he cycles and I have to match with his pace. Later, the topics change to the Sun, Moon and the stars. His questions about why sun looks yellow and bright and why the moon is white and sometimes yellow (it looks so on a full moon day)or about the variety of insects he loves to explore such as how many legs each has, never end. Intermittently, he warns me about the langoors, asserting that I should not call out to them, else they would jump on me and slap me hard. Well, this is the caution I had fed him with initially, to keep him away from inviting trouble. So, I asked him, “What if they come over and slap you instead?” to which he quickly riposted, “They won’t slap me. They are my friends!” Damn right! He has started thinking like me! Old tricks don’t sell anymore. And never be sure of comprehending a child’s thought process. The moment you assume, you have assumed correctly, reality ditches you! Still, if theory of assumption works for you, never better!
Sometimes, discipline stands a better chance than the mellowed down approach. I have figured out, you can never be perpetually cool as a parent except in the case, if your child is that one in thousands, a Buddha or a Dhruv. A is stubborn, he is thoughtful and he is selectively social. He knows what he wants. Yet, he can make a simple process such as finishing a meal, herculean! For instance, he can act really ‘sick’ if he is just not in the mood to eat, despite the fact that he could actually be hungry. Sounds complicated? It is. I have observed this trait in many children during their meal time. If children are in a continuous play mode, their desire to continue playing supersedes their tummy’s call for fuel. It is only later when the child realizes the hunger pangs and ends up throwing the worst tantrums beyond the mother’s understanding. There is just one way to go about it. No pleading, No coaxing and no cajoling. Eat or no food! This trick worked for me as my ‘duracell’ bunny understood, I could be a strict mother too!
Being a mother has made me strong more so, mentally. There is a certain kind of energy that keeps me going even when there are those low days of fever, headache, sore throat, PMS etc. Before the arrival of my son, a simple sore throat or a headache would make me a sulking, restless and a difficult human. Now, despite all that, my routine of getting up at 5:30 stays undeterred. Waking up my son, making his breakfast, getting him ready for school, making him say his prayers and make him have his spoonful of chavanprash (he calls it ‘seven prush’) and then dropping him to school on time are the most important tasks for me. It is then I realized that God watches over the mother as much as he watches over the child. In times when health is not pink enough, I never even have the time to realize that I am unwell and it is only after I get better, I feel this amazing strength only a mother can possess. I for one, have witnessed my mother (who is a super mom herself) through her rough patches in life when health was not very friendly with her and yet, she struggled with me through days and nights to help me understand the importance of hard work and success. Motherhood is a beautiful phase. It engages you. It exhausts you. It surprises you. It overwhelms you. But essentially, it toughens you. To raise a child is a feat in itself. It was never easy. It never will be. Which is why, they say – Mother is the word!! Amen.