Just a month after I had delivered the baby, one summer evening, I sat down with my husband and told him the words, “I’ll have to quit my job. I want to take care of the baby.” While I began to formulate responses inside my head to defend my point on why I thought it was extremely important that I stay home with the baby, in case he disagreed with me citing that it could be a handful if two people earned (the 21st century mantra), he looked at me and simply said, “Alright, sounds good to me. You can probably join back later when he is older. ”
I was relieved, largely comforted, that I would be able to cater to the needs of my LO right from home and not worry about breast pumping machines, bottles, scheduling my days, splitting my mind between working on my laptop and attending to my newborn, fighting with the guilt feelings of leaving my baby behind, or worrying about daycare settings and so on. As days rolled into months, we realized that I wouldn’t be getting back to work for a long time with my response being the same “oh, he is still a baby.” (The baby which is now close to being 19 months old but he surprisingly still remains my baby)
From time to time, I have been asked two questions, – “Do you miss being at work?” and “Do you enjoy motherhood?” The answers to both these questions are NO. I don’t miss being at work at all, largely because, I haven’t had much time to think about it. (My days are travelling at the speed of light where dawn and dusk rarely meet, they often get mixed up).
As for enjoying motherhood, what I have repeatedly heard is this – “Enjoy every moment while it lasts. He’ll grow before you know it. And then, you’ll miss all the silly things, even the things that annoy you now.” If I had my way, it is my secret wish to smack these people in their heads (no, I don’t mean that, literally). From what I know, I have not been able to enjoy every single moment of motherhood. For instance, I tried but cannot find joy in situations such as these:
a) I don’t remember the last time I slept through the night - was definitely couple of years ago. So, its 5 a.m., I am in deep slumber when the baby beside me is wide awake, ready to battle his day, banging me in the face like a rude alarm clock. (This happens 9 out of 10 times).
b) I am in the car for a 10 minute drive to the local library. My toddler screams his lungs out, as if he is in deep pain. I want to tell him to quieten up so that I can concentrate on the road. Obviously, he doesn’t get it. (Surprisingly, he stops crying the minute he is out of his car seat but he cries all the way back home when I buckle him up.
c) I cannot visit stores anymore without a toddler who stops at every aisle to pick up something. He even smashes a few things. I want to scream at him but I don’t. The parent inside me is aware of people watching so I talk with him gently as I try to distract him out of the store. (Happens all the time since he learnt to walk)
d) No more visits to the restaurants since he started throwing up food all around from his highchair. He knows he isn’t supposed to do it but he loses fun if he doesn’t throw a tantrum. (I have learnt that carryout is a better option)
e) Diaper wars. Clothes wars. Food wars. No reason wars. It’s a normal thing for a toddler to assert his decisions. People say it gets better as the years pass on, of course, it’s a long way to go. He is growing, learning, grasping, exploring, discovering – wow, that’s exhausting me already.
I have realized that parenting is 95% hard (I have no idea what the other 5% is, easy is not the word) for a person like me, who has to constantly discipline herself, learn the art of being patient, understand that it’s just the way babies are, know that I am not the only one who has had a baby. (Apparently, a lot of people have been through having a baby at least once in their lifetime).
Instead of hearing the phrase ‘Enjoy every moment’, what I would really love to hear is this,
It is sometimes hard, probably often, to go through day by day the same things over and over, reading the same books, visiting the same places, having constant baby talks, worrying about the same things, worrying about the future, missing a lot of things but the best part is hidden in those fleeting rare moments such as – the touch of a newborn that feels like lotioned tissue paper, the baby smiles that are revealed when you catch them during their sleep, the small accomplishments that feels like heightened sense of triumph, the babbles that make no sense at all yet meaningful in their own way, the bliss of being hugged by a toddler, the sight of watching your spouse bonding with the baby, the luxury of having a few extra minutes to snuggle with the baby every morning – It is, but, living in these priceless moments, that the point of it becomes clear.
I am glad, terribly glad, that I chose to be a stay-at-home mom despite being occasionally asked if I would ever return to work at all (Ahem, am I not busy enough right now?), or isn’t being home with a toddler boring? (Well, that’s the thing, no time to ponder at all), you’re an educated woman wasting away (Uh, I know I went to college, I don’t have the amnesia).
There always is a choice. I guess our choices make us what we are.