The first time I spent Valentine’s Day with my husband, we were on our honeymoon in Goa, and were possibly the most non-mushy couple ever, but I still got him a card. Of course, at the time I was young enough, and silly enough to be less than thrilled with the lack of a reciprocal card.
Since then there have been many days, other than the 14th of February, when I have realized just how silly I was to think that a man who does not bring you a card or roses on a particular day (unless reminded) doesn’t care. In fact, last week, after nine mostly happy years, when he acknowledged the day, (unprompted) with a casual greeting on his way to work, that is not the memory that came to my mind. It was the memory of Valentine’s day, four years ago, that made me smile. That was the day when I first felt my son’s physical presence, thanks to a ‘light’ kick on my insides. That is also one of those days when I realized how much things have changed.
When my son was born, I was living with my parents for a few months, because at the time the husband was posted in a place which didn’t have decent medical facilities. Things worked out in such a way that my husband got just enough leave to spend about two weeks with us after our son was born. So I ended up single parenting my son for the first few months of his life. Of course having the support system of my parents was invaluable, but before leaving, my husband had convinced me that I had to allow my parents to sleep through the night even if our offspring didn’t allow his parent the same luxury. The end result was that, in those first few weeks of motherhood, my life had literally turned upside down. Day was night and vice versa, because my infant son decreed it so.
If you’re a first time mother, like I was, and a little unsure of how to go about taking care of your child, like I was, you tend to get advice, solicited or otherwise, from everyone you meet. Don’t diaper the kid, diaper the kid, let him sleep in a cot, co sleep and bond, wake up the kid to feed, let the kid sleep till hunger wakens him, rock to sleep, don’t rock to sleep etc. It didn’t help that like many mothers of my tech-savvy generation, I added to the confusion, by turning to the internet at the slightest fray into unfamiliar territory. The range of advice available was endless, more than a bit mind-boggling and completely contradictory.
Thanks to my husband, we have mostly raised our child our way, but I still fell into a pattern of guilt, of worrying whether what I was doing was the right thing for my child. Despite the evidence of having a happy, healthy child, I continued to doubt myself, at every stage. My husband, being the calm one, kept telling me that whatever we were doing was right for our child, but sometimes no matter how much someone tries to show you the big picture, you actually can’t see it, till you’re far enough away from it to get things in perspective.
Coming back to how things have changed, my Valentines day memory set off a chain of thought. I realized, that every milestone in our child’s development, particularly the difficult and frustrating ones like weaning and toilet training came about very easily, when I stopped worrying about it, took a break for some time and began again. So here’s my advice for any new mothers who are feeling frustrated with their efforts at helping their child to take the next step in growing up -
No matter how fruitless your efforts seem, this is just a stage when you and your baby are probably not ready to take the next step yet. Relax, give yourself and your child a break, and try again a few weeks later, when your child and you are older and wiser. Repeat as many times as required, and in the meantime try not to discuss it too much with friends whose children are of similar age, because as a doctor pointed out to a worried mother, whose otherwise normal toddler had fewer teeth than other children in his playgroup , “Have you ever come across an adult with no teeth?”
Apparently when you become a parent, it’s not just your child who does the growing up!
Monishikha Roy-Choudhury is an intermittent blogger, a book lover whose latest passion is creating watercolours. In her spare time, she is also a wife and stay at home mom, and you can find out more about her life at http://minisblog.blogspot.in or see her artwork on her Facebook page, The Coloured Wall.