Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The thing about being a parent

A friend asked me a long time ago “Why should I have kids? I have a perfect life. I can travel when I want, where I want. I can lay under the stars in the middle of the night and enjoy it with my husband, in peace. I don’t have to tend to any crying babies and poopie diapers. My time is at my disposal. Why would I give that up to have a child and lose my freedom?” I gave her a text book answer of “They change your life. It is a mind-blowing experience in spite of the middle-of-the-night feedings and poopie diapers. Trust me.” But over the years I have realized that I don’t really have a good answer for her question. If someone is really hesitant to give up their freedom to have a child, there is no convincing required to how awesome a child can be. At the end of the day it is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong. These are just different experiences and people choose the experience they want to live. I can only talk about my experience. Only somewhat. I am limited by my vocabulary and what words can convey.

What a child brings to your life can only and only be felt after the child is born. Maybe you were born with a maternal instinct and always knew you would make a great mom. But if you weren’t, which I wasn’t, then there is no outside force, discussion, argument, reasoning or logic that would have convinced me to have a child. I had a child because I wanted to, for no specific reason except I felt more ready than ever at that point in time. That’s it. There wasn’t more thought into it. There wasn’t any less thought. It was that exact amount of “I’m ready, I think.” 

The moment when Sammy was put on my bare chest within 5 seconds of being born is really when my maternal instinct hit me for the very first time. That’s when she went from being a sort of an unreal-reality, who was mostly real via the ultrasound pictures and in-tummy-hiccups, to being a real flesh and blood person lying on me, 5 inches away from my eyes. Seeing is believing, they say. And that’s what made it real for me. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks and I couldn’t frikkin’ stop it. It was uncontrollable. It must be love, I thought. I was relieved to know I could love a child. Little did I know how much. It is nuts. Everything around me was suddenly brighter, happier, clearer. I clearly remember when Rehan was born, I had this sudden rush of joy and love. It was a slightly familiar territory for me. I held Rehan and I had the instant and uncontrollable urge to be a better person. In that moment of intimacy with him, I felt like I could be standing in front of anyone and I would shower love on them. I could forgive anyone. I felt like he made me a better person in an instant. It is extremely strange and I have no idea how to explain it. But holding him for the first time made me want to be a better person. That thought of being a better person stayed with me for a bit before I went back to being myself. Oh, well. 

I must also point out that unlike the popular notion, new borns aren’t the cutest thing in the world. They are often times quite the opposite. Their skin in wrinkled, their nose is somewhat squished from being born, they look nothing like what they would look like in just a few months. To top it, labor and birthing are hard. Really really incredibly hard. If it is possible to fall in love with a new born in a state of extreme frenzy, then it is a kind of feeling that can only be felt and cannot be explained. It is mere impossible. Up until having Sammy I thought I knew love inside out. I have always been crazy in love with my family, my dogs and thought I could get an honorary doctorate in love if there was one. But I was so wrong. The birth of my children showed me I didn't know a thing about love. I didn’t even know the “U” of unconditional. I get it now. I get it more every day.

The point is, having a child is life changing. It is unsurmountable joy and love that weirds you out because of the sheer intensity of it. It is a rush. It is a change in priorities. It brings back the innocence you lost, a little bit at least. So to say that anyone could have told me what a child would do to my life, before I had a child, is a fallacy. No words, no person, no song, no empathy could have really told me how I would feel after being a mom. I could only feel it one way. The only way. It required no convincing. That’s the thing about being a parent - you have to want to get there on your own, without any convincing. 

So I don’t really have any words for someone who wouldn’t want to give up their freedom by having a child. If you ever go through it, you will see it for yourself. Or else, you will continue to enjoy your freedom. No words of wisdom there.

At this point, I can’t imagine what I did with my time before Sammy and Rehan were born. I love myself more now that they are in my life. I love who they are. They are fascinating little creatures and small things they do can turn my rotten day into a feeling that can only be compared to being high. Not that I know what being high feels like. But I have heard and I can relate. 

Don’t get me wrong. Kids are a full time job. They are exhausting. They are tiring. They are testy. They can make you testy. They throw tantrums at the most critical times and places. They embarrass you, although the concept of embarrassment does not exist for them. They don’t want to eat when its time to eat. But they might wake up in the middle of the night hungry and starving. Everyone has a different take on parenting. Not a right or a wrong take. Just a different take. Siddharth and I are relatively easy going - with kids’ learning, their eating, their almost everything. We don’t fill our days trying to teach our kids new things. We spend most times playing with them and singing to them. We eat together. There are days when they don’t want to eat and I am ok with that. I don’t fret about it, I don’t feel bad about, and I don’t feel guilty about it either. I got that from my mom and sister, I think. My nieces are picky eaters but I never saw my sister or mom running behind them trying to feed them. I do mimic my sister and mom a lot when it comes to being a parent. I don’t wait for my kids to finish eating to eat my own food. I take care of myself plenty. I make myself a priority. I do love my kids to the moon and back. They are my world and my universe. But there are more things in my world and the universe. I love that Sammy and Rehan are as obsessed with Siddharth as they are with me. I love that they need him as much as they need me. The only thing we build into our agenda for sure is running around the house for 20-30 min. Everything else is up in the air. It happens to be Sammy and Rehan’s favorite game. “Daddy, I want to catch you.” “Daddy, run.” They say. This is our parenting style. It sounds really adorable sometimes, selfish some other times, and borderline careless some of the times when I read it out loud. But that’s me. That’s us. 

Being a parent is hard. Most of the times you are second guessing yourself. “Did I break my child?” “Did I do something wrong?” The other half of the times other people judge you. It is a tricky territory to be in. I do admire mom’s and dad’s with all different parenting styles. It is quite amazing to see the uniqueness that is there in every parent-child relationship. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes we choose not to learn. In either case, it is admirable. There is nothing more precious than seeing a mom or dad hug their child with all the love in the world irrespective of their parenting style. That’s the thing about parenting. There are so many ways to bring up a child. I think any and all approaches are fine as long as there is love. The rest falls into the bucket of individual family dynamic, which is, like it sounds - individual. 

These why I know love better!

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