Love

You’d think I’d be back with some happy news after the last time I posted. Something about gummy kisses and impromptu hugs. But no. In fact, things have worsened way too much. So we had travelled to Kolkata about a week back to attend an important family event and were scheduled to return to home base three days back. Except, the little one fell sick. Very very sick. Respiratory tract infection. High fever. Antibiotics. Antibiotics causing diarrhoea. Horrible cough. And more. Between the wet sponges and rounds of medicines and blood tests, all I want is my happy, sunny, goofy little Anushka back. It’s selfish and completely off what should be the priority right now, but that’s all that seems to make my mind work right now.

It’s weird how while last week my worry was more about her meal times and her not budging beyond semi solids food stage and her addiction to babyTV, I would happily have last week’s status quo over this. I guess that’s how pansy parents are.

I just realised that tomorrow is valentines day. My.. err, valentine.. Or husband, this year, is all about being the father of the baby we are both worried sick over. So of course, red roses or other corny ideas of romance (that we thankfully gave up about a couple of years into marriage anyway) have been safely replaced by bickering over the correct dosage of the probiotics to be administered, snapping over the most trivial of things and stressing about how the night will pass. And in between all of that, I realise that love is fluid enough to find its way through these cracks. It’s in the reassuring glance while we wait for the thermometer to beep. It’s in him soothing the little one to sleep while I try and fight my own fever to get up and nurse her. It’s in him being off handed about my panic because he knows how easy my paranoia feeds off others’.

It’s in the two of us sitting and watching the little one sleep peacefully, before fever or a bout of coughing causes a whirr of activity. It’s in her wrapping her little finger around a strand of my hair while asking Papa for water.

I guess being feverish with love took on a whole new meaning.

Happy Valentine’s day to you! Please pray for us to get better and back home safe.

Bad Mom Confesses

I don’t know why this takes more balls to admit than admitting that I might be a bad wife or daughter or employee or whatever. I am talking about being a bad mum. Part of me wishes it is exhaustion and boredom talking, and that it will subside soon. But another part of me knows that I have been faltering in many ways when it comes to being Anushka’s primary caretaker. Her TV time is out of control. Her meal times are haywire. She has been unwell of late and here’s the kicker: last night when she was burning with fever, all I needed was for her to go back to sleep so I could go to sleep. I just needed the night. I didn’t want to deal with anything in that moment. This morning, I’m being hit with a special kind of guilt. Maybe this public admission is also my selfish way of seeking a few words of support, but right now, my child needs support. Other than me. Despite me claiming to be there all the time.

In the journey of motherhood with its relentless cycle of crests and troughs, this is undeniably a low.

Free Falling

So today I was diagnosed with positional vertigo. We are hoping that the condition or at least the symptoms ( spinning room, disorientation, nausea) will subside in the next couple of days. This is one of the multiple freak illnesses that decide to visit me once a year. To say the least, it throws a spanner in the works when it happens. And when it happens over the weekend, it makes me more pissed than ill. Which makes me more ill. And further pissed. You see how this goes?

It’s funny to some how I place almost “corporate levels” of significance on weekend, being a stay at home mom and all. Well, the idea being that you can go anywhere and do anything when you are home all day. *cue manic deranged laughter from me* I wish I could show these people a video of stay at home moms doing the “stuff they do” all day everyday. Not only can you not go anywhere and not do anything without a detailed plan involving feeding, sleeping time constraints, packing a thousand things for the “just in case” scenario and hoping you wouldn’t be driven to tears in a crowded mall/ hospital/ restaurant, it is still entirely possible (and highly likely!) that the baby will succeed in pulling a fast one on you regardless. Add to this the charm of this job being one with too many bosses (everyone knows how to bathe/feed/put to nap/play with/soothe the baby better than you – the person who will actually DO it. But all things considered, what gets you in the end is that the business of keeping a baby alive, happy, active and safe is a lonely business. You are never alone but you are lonely, and it’s not the sullenness or peaceful quiet of sitting in a corner and reading something but that of never having a spare moment with your thoughts within a cacophony of happy toys, blaring music and baby babbles. It is the brutal aloneness which if ignored for a while, surfaces as the realisation that you may now be metamorphosing into a person of zero ambition and worse, zilch ability to think. If you wallow too much in it, the guilt of grudging your child the time you owe him/ her catches up soon enough.

Why wouldn’t parents share this more often, you ask? Because it’s our old resistance to appearing weak, I reckon. Everyone wants us to believe that it was a breeze for them. That they did it differently. That they managed it all. That they didn’t overthink it.

We deal with it by magnifying the good parts (and there are many) in our minds, our narrative, our social media. I don’t criticise it one bit. It’s a coping mechanism as good as any. Filtered motherhood, selective moments, choosing happiness. Call it whatever.

It goes on like this. We fall freely, hanging by the tiny moments of love and beauty that undeniably shine. We fall freely, desperately wanting the hard parts to fade a bit more so our happiness shines brighter. Spinning out of control, just out of reach, dancing to its own tune, life carries on. We wait for the vertigo to pass.

These shoes are made for walking

Early parenthood, it seems, is a stage of life when the thought “the days are long but the years are short” rings the truest. I have no idea where the monsoon this year has flown by, for instance. Not for the lack of damp articles of clothing adorning every available flat surface in my home or the expressway that seems to have had a traffic snarl lasting four months by now, mind you. Monsoon has, however, passed us by without a single pakora being ingested and without me spending an evening with a bottomless pot of chai and a book, by the window. While one does rue the absence of such leisure in the crazed, chaotic and ever- surprising lanes of parenthood, it is also true that seasons are now all about remembering milestones and accomplishments of a little someone.

This rainy season, little Anushka took her first few steps on her own. With my heart constantly in my mouth as she wobbles towards a sharp corner or sneaks up to something breakable, I am just overawed by how she – our little ball of yarn that arrived last monsoon – can follow me around the house and insists on playing peekaboo every time I turn a corner. It is scary how fast kids grow up. Spending each day living life to the fullest seems like an urgent reminder, when I see her do something new. And she teaches me how easy it is too, by dissolving in to a fit of giggles about a funny face or our attempts at baby talk.

“What would you do if you could time travel to the past and fix one thing?”

Hello there, old friend. By now I have sort of admitted to myself that it will never be such that I will update this blog regularly and have a real account of my life. I still come back some days thinking that maybe even these random sporadic updates will give me a tiny glimpse of a younger me when I’m old and senile. So, dear old me, this current phase of your/my life is called Finally Getting to Know What Being Really Busy Is.

These days, I am prone to joking that I now have the answer to the question “What would you do if you could travel back in time and fix one thing?” Except I have two things to fix. One: I would like to deliver a loud, resounding slap to my past self who, while lying prostrate on the bed, eating a bag of chips, watching some meaningless show or the other, would whine but-where-is-the-tiiiiiime about so many things/activities/meetings/fun things!! Probably things weren’t exactly that bad, but old me was definitely, undoubtedly lazier than the me of today. Today-me is a mommy and whoa, does this biatch know now to multi-task. No day can be complete without it, and there is no way to survive without it either. I guess I should be happier that given my old ways, I had it in me to find a way to make things work but I can’t help rue the years that have passed me by. Well I am only 30 at the moment but learning some efficiency at 25 would have been so much better. For this reason alone, I believe one should have (if planning to, in the first place) kids earlier in life! It also doesn’t help matters that even though my new self has learnt a thing or two about time management, the things to manage are actually pretty monotonous – baby nap times, baby feeding schedules, baby food prep, my meals, baby play time, walk with baby, baby bath, baby massage, my shower (yes, planning to take a shower is a thing), my TV time/ reading time/ surfing time which I collectively refer to as my preventing-insanity time – well, you get the drift. Wouldn’t have been the case pre-baby, right? I know this sounds like I think of my baby and mommyhood as work, but it IS work and well, I did not say that putting in effort into this monotony does not provide satisfaction or fun. Like baking a perfect cake or reading a book or knitting a pair of socks, it is the kind of work that pays nothing but there’s something to look at and feel good about nonetheless. Only it’s a breathing, jumping, giggling human being and every feeling of marvel is amplified 100x. I don’t mean to sound like I am glorifying motherhood because of course there are some terrible days – feeling fat days, feeling worthless days, feeling bored days, days filled with insomnia-fueled exhaustion, days when just a single replay of that same toy’s jingle can send you over the edge – and yet, I do not lie when I say that for most moms, the sound of the baby’s giggle just because you made a funny face sets things right for the most part. (Can’t say that any of the problems I faced as a non-mommy ever had such a simple fix :)) 

I know, having reliable help changes the game in many ways, but as of now, I have not had a lot of luck with that. In fact, my trusty old house help who was efficient but prone to tantrums (more so than the baby) has also quit recently and all the ladies know what I mean when I say it’s been a shitstorm of work lately. 

About the second thing I would like to fix: Thank my mom more and be less of an asshole to her in general. I mean, she did this too! With two kids less than 3 years apart! With no driving skills/ people to drive her around! Fewer maids! Cooking 3 healthy meals for the family every day and so much more! I wish there was a way to know then how I would feel one day in her shoes. We have it so much better and we still struggle more. How did you do it, mom? Just, how?

mommy

A day to forget

It’s been an exhausting day for me. The kind of day that brought issues enough to wipe me out for the week. While dealing with a crisis or five at the domestic front, I’m also currently the sole confidante for three people on three issues. I have no idea how I have landed here. My bitching about it like this online makes me feel guilty and selfish. But I need a vent too. I wish there was someone to share my own problems with. Without judging. While listening attentively. Sans the eagerness to provide quick and dirty advice.

It’s hard being optimistic for others all day when you feel anything but.

Well, tomorrow is another day and I am hoping to be up early and tackle it head on.

Decisions

Everyone tells you just how much this parenting gig asks of you, in terms of physical and emotional commitment, fortitude and financial planning. What they omit to tell you, in my case at least, is the good use to which you will be putting your decision-making skills at almost every step of the way. Up until getting pregnant, I thought that despite some big (controversial and well-documented) issues aside, everything about being a parent works by learning from people around you and how they may have gone about certain things at the relevant stages in their children’s upbringing. Oh, how mistaken I was.. of course, you can learn from them but chances are there’s not one parenting method that will suit you to the T. It’s as simple as you not being them and your children not being theirs. So, on most nights, I count sheep and agonize over something or the other. Here are some of the things keeping me awake just the past few months:

Sleep training or no sleep training?
Sleep training: emotional crutches like blanky, a feed or patting/ rocking vs cry it out?
Co-sleeping or crib? (We were too late thinking of moving her to a crib, so co-sleeping it is, and not unhappy with it thus far)
Bottle or sippy cup or trainer cup? (And this when I escaped the big one: Breastfeeding vs Formula. I was able to breastfeed her and have only started to wean her)
How much water intake? (Believe it or not, there’s a limit on how much water should be offered to babies, that has to do with absorption of nutrients + electrolyte balance and other stuff BUT no water in this heat is bound to make them dehydrated and/or constipated!)
Baby-led weaning or traditional weaning?
First foods: Fruits or cereal? Store-bought cereal or home-made cereal (While home-made cereal might seem like an obvious choice, pediatrician recommended store-bought because it is fortified with iron and vitamins)
Salt or no salt? (No salt recommended for babies till 1, but all food tastes so bland without it. Docs argue that babies are not accustomed to salt yet, but I feel there’s no point in feeding children absolutely unsalted food when the goal is to get them eating normal table food one day)
Veggies: Sweet Potato or Potato, Carrot or Broccoli (she hasn’t taken a liking to either as of now)
Go organic or feed easily-found mass produced food to build immunity and not over-protect child
How long to breastfeed? One year? 18 months? 2 years? When to supplement with other milk? What if she doesn’t accept other milk later on? What if she does and self-weans? Is it too early?
Cow’s milk as supplement or formula?
When to potty train?
Tonsure hair or not?
Pierce ears? When?
Teething homeopathy meds?

I’m sure I’m forgetting some. I haven’t even added the traditional vs medical conflicts that plague new mums. Invariably, your elders will be at odds with what the doctor orders. I also haven’t gotten into the numerous behavioural worries that come up. (Does my child shriek too much? Why does she not understand a NO? Do I yell too much? Am I not assertive enough? Why doesn’t she learn to play by herself? Will this resolve itself? ad infinitum)

We all make these choices and hope they turn out well. There’s no blueprint. There’s no map. There’re only instinct and hope and love.