Strange as it may sound, it took me a long time to adjust becoming a mother. I’m not talking about taking care of the child for that comes instinctively to all of us – what I’m talking about is the realisation of the responsibility for the care and upbringing of another life.
Gone were the days when I could have an unplanned day, a day that flowed seamlessly from one activity to the next. Suddenly, my day was structured around baby’s feed times and sleep times. Soon one baby became two and my days became more flexible and stretchable as I had to now follow not one schedule but two! As the days went by, I had to adjust my work around feed and sleep times, school times, play times, homework times, piano lesson times, holiday and exam times and so many other times that my own personal time shrank into a mere blip in the day.
I also had to change my attitude to the world. No longer was it restricted to mere black and white but assumed shades of grey as well: may be Mrs. X was not the best person to associate with but it was convenient to car pool with her; perhaps it was not a good idea to let my children travel by bus but it was a good way to make them independent. And I could go on and on about the numerous instances where I had to change my position on several things to adopt new ones that made motherhood and child rearing easier.
With motherhood my high heels went to the back of the cupboard as did my bangles and beads. I had no need for clothes that were trendy or smart but ones that were serviceable and completely child friendly – clothes that would wash well and wear well, that were comfortable enough to crawl in, run in and even sleep in…
Thus time went by and the children grew from babies to toddler-hood, adolescence and adulthood. I helped them through their maths problems, listened to their boyfriend problems, added to their angst by being the “monster mom who just doesn’t understand and always says NO”, guided them through their college admissions, advised them on their career choices and eventually let them go.
When they finally left the nest, motherhood acquired a new meaning – from providing daily lunches, I was reduced to a peon or office clerk keeping track of all their mail, filing their tax returns and making sure they were updated on all the news of the neighbourhood. My empty nest stayed full with their cupboards that needed constant airing, their papers that needed safe keeping and the various jobs that only I could do for them.
But, my “my” time became larger and I soon got back to my heels, my makeup and myself. No longer was my reading restricted to children’s books, text books and resumes but I was free to re-explore the joys of novels, poetry and stories, a pleasure long forgotten. I could step out for a movie or a lunch with a friend, wander around art galleries and spend hours at a mall. I had no schedules to adhere to and my time was my own, this time was all the more precious since I knew how transient it was.
Then, all that subtly changed on the 28th of March 2013, when I woke up feeling excited and slightly anxious knowing that I would soon become a grandmother. A few hours after breakfast and well before lunch time, the doctor proudly announced that my daughter had delivered a healthy baby boy. Within minutes I was bumped up one generation. I had automatically assumed the mantle of “the wise old lady who knows it all.”
I had suddenly become a cuddly lap to comfort a grandchild, a teller of stories, the keeper of tradition and family lore. As I held my little grandson close in my arms, sleeping peacefully, blissfully unaware of how he had created a flutter in my heart and the wobble in my legs, I sat down and took a deep breath. Life had come full circle: I kicked off my heels, put up my feet and hugged him closer in my lap. That evening before going to the hospital again, I took off my bangles, rings and watch. I rubbed off my make up and put away my strong perfume. I dabbed some of his mildly scented baby powder instead. As for my black eyeliner – I kept it in my purse for its new role as the official keeper away of the evil eye to mark a black dot on the sole of his tiny foot.
I had made the official transition from a mother to a grandmother.
As a mother of two thirty year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood