So, you are married for a few years? (read: 2 years +)
It’s time you have a baby!
(Right! So two years is enough to ‘enjoy’ matrimony? Right, two years is enough to have wild sex with your husband, enjoy those late mornings and awesome twosome chemistry that you share!!)
Why does society tell us when is the ‘right’ time to have a baby? I mean seriously… it’s my body… it’s my life… I will decide when I am ready to have a child…
Ready?? What do you mean by being ready?
Oh yes, being ‘ready’ is yet another important denominator for child rearing. I had heard stories of all kinds of mothers who are either ‘ready’ to have a child and didn’t have any despite trying relentlessly; and then some others who were not ‘ready’ yet and as a result turned out to be truly disenchanted mothers!
When I discovered I was pregnant, all I could hear was that how it was the right time to have a baby and that I am lucky that I am it’s all happening at the right time.
And then the advice flowed! Little did I know that the barrage of free advice would never stop!
Drink milk… eat your ghee… rub your belly with milk and your baby will be fair… etc etc…
But all I did was read: What to Expect when you are Expecting!
My family started hyper ventilating about comfort and care. Someone ‘elder’ had to be transported to stay with me. As a result, Mimi, my soul mate and mausi came to stay with me. But then some felt that someone who has never borne a child is not the best caretaker! (I rolled my eyes, protested but I couldn’t do much). Next came my mother who has little memory of the two pregnancies that she has had. She wasn’t of much help either and so I delved deeper into my book and read up on the internet.
By and by, I became the know-all-about-pregnancy-woman! I’d carefully educate my husband and the rest of the family of what’s happening inside my belly. And everyone would listen to me wide-eyed!
The power of the internet, connecting with recent mommies and books on the subject held me through my pregnancy. And then I realised that parenting today is so different from that of my mother’s! My doctor while I was carrying my son, and my son’s first doctor both were amazed at how much I knew.
“I wish all expectant mothers care to read up as much as you do,” my doc said.
“Oh no… not everyone knows that kajal is not meant for the eyes,” said V’s doc.
I remember how I had an almost-so-serious altercation with my in-laws about telmaalish. V was born tall and thin and even after a month he looked much the same, like a featherless chicken even though his weight was increasing.
“Start his maalish and you will see the difference,” they said.
I had read about how a baby’s tender skin was prone to rashes and allergies and so I stuck to my ‘no-maalish for a month’ mantra rather steadfastly. But that didn’t go down too well. The difference in opinion continued but I refused to relent. As V turned one month, I grew anxious… Were they right about him not adding weight? I mean, he is piling those tiny grams but he doesn’t look chubby enough!
When I shared my fears with the doctor he laughed it off saying that V was growing very well and that all babies needn’t look chubby!
During the early months I relied on a sister-in-law who had a baby three years back. She was my constant companion through my early days of parenthood. From the benefits of a nursing pillow, to actually sending me hers, telling me about the nipple shield that I should have bought, and getting my husband to buy a breast pump… she took me through some critical lessons that I had overlooked.
I also connected with friends and acquaintances I was barely in touch with. Seniors and juniors from school who were dealing with various stages of motherhood. One helped me see through the tough days of BFing, sharing with me the joy of parenting. While another recent mommy who had a daughter a month earlier connected with me on BBM. We shared notes during our night watch sessions! And another friend with an older kid wanted to join us newbie mothers in a mommy gang!
I learnt that modern-day parenting is a lot about knowing the tools that are available and whether one needs them. It is also about practices that are acceptable today than they were 3 decades back! Sometimes knowing that another mom has battled similar issues ‘recently’ goes a long way in consoling oneself. Similarly knowing that a said tactic has helped another mom more recently makes one brave. I remember speaking to a 3 day younger mom about top feed and a certain brand of milk that she gave her daughter. I was considering supplementing and while I was feeling guilty for having the need to go for a top feed, she made me realise that it doesn’t reflect badly on my prowess as a mother!
Maybe our mothers had the time to maalish us four times a day, but really do we have that time at all?
We have diapers now. And given the advantages of airing private parts, I also believe that protecting one’s baby from that constant wet feeling is a terrific boon!
Your baby has a cold? Give him a gharelutotka of ginger, tulsi and honey… never mind if honey is unadvisable for babies under the age of 1!
Call it the age of over-knowledge or the need for being in control, modern-day parenting is miles apart from that of our parents. My best friend recently had a baby. And while we shared notes during her pregnancy, she chooses to call me every now and then to know about child care.
How do I know if he’s latched on?
How do I know if his tummy is full?
Which is the right stroller? What should I look for in a stroller?
Why do I need a sleeping pillow?
The questions are pouring in and like the patient mother that I have grown to be I answer her to the best of my knowledge and experience. You need a mother around a new one. But sometimes she needn’t be the one God gave her.
A former TV junkie & workaholic – turned – stay-at-home-mother – recently turned work-at-home – mother Rituparna Ghosh loves herself as @VeesMother (my twitter identity as a parent). Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.wordpress.com/.