We were watching Apocalypto, my brother, sister and I and it was just before the kids came along. The scene had a pregnant mother and a child getting trapped in a pit and my then pregnant sister started crying, weeping and bawling for the next few hours. Silly that it may seem now, it was just the start. Becoming a parent changes the way we look, think, perceive things, literally everything. And ever since I picked up that scrawny little ugly bundle from the nurse’s hands, he became mine.
Note that signing up to be a parent will be the best decision you will ever take in your life. You will never find eyes that light up so bright at your sight. To be randomly told how much you are loved, kissed and hugged over a hundred times in a day, what you are getting into is a lifetime of love. Every milestone will be a time for celebration and the victory will be yours. For the next ten years, you will be the centre of their life. And even when they move on to other things, people and places, you will still be the one they turn to for things silly and life changing.
The rewards of parenting are not easy to explain. You will feel it the day your child says his first word, rolls over the first time, squeals with joy seeing your face or when he wipes your tears and says “it’s alright mama”. You will see your hardwork at homework time pay off when he learns to write your name even before his own.
Parenting melts every cell you own.
Which is why when someone talks about having a child, an alarm bell goes off. I turn around and play the devil’s advocate. “Are you sure?” “Do you really want a child?” “Are you prepared – mentally, physically, financially and in any and every possible way?”
They are almost always surprised how a mother could or would discourage anyone else from having a child.
Because raising a kid takes every inch of you. It’s not a hobby that you could drop when you are done trying. Its not a skill that you pick up and perfect as you go along. It is not a job that you could move on from after a couple of years and it doesn’t come with PF, bonus, gratuity and the works.
Parenting means dealing with the package that comes your way. No matter what the profile: whiny, cranky, loud, soft, pleasant, painful or peaceful. It means reworking your sleep cycles to stay up and walk them night after night. Months after the excitement has faded, keeping them entertained from 3:00 am to 5:00 a.m. so at least the rest of the house gets their sleep. It means learning that one little child could cry in ways that will surprise you, and slowly being able to associate those yelps with hunger, pain, attention or whatever it is. It is knowing that when everything thing else has failed and the crying has not stopped, it is just colic! Nothing crazy that you had imagined and broken down about!
Parenting means changing your lifestyle, reworking schedules, and rearranging everything around you. It means that you will never ever be able to walk out of your home on a trip with your phone and some money in your pocket. You will always be carrying your home with you-clothes nappies, wipes, food, juices, milk, water…gosh the list is long. And packing everything and knowing you have enough is so complicated, you may want to give up on the holiday. Parenting is knowing that no room, no space will ever feel safe again. It is making enemies out of mosquitoes, and oh the entire insect clan.
Parenting is knowing that just when you have figured their crawl, they start walking. And just when you have caught up, they are running faster than you ever will. Parenting is knowing that the “Terrible Twos” never end. When they do, they just make way for the Three and the Fours. It is accepting that the night before that really important meeting, will most probably be spent at the hospital. It is knowing that you will never be able to step into a restaurant without checking if they have high-chairs and hotels without a play-area. It is giving up on your show for Octonauts, Peppa pig or Diego.
Parenting is knowing when to ease off and when to hold fort. It is allowing for the clutter, because what seems like clutter to you, will soon turn into a “machine that checks your bones”. Parenting is knowing you will goof up, you will break down, you will find everything falling apart but still manage to keep it together.
Parenting is accepting that you will never be prepared enough; you will never be ready enough for the final leap and still taking that leap. And life doesn’t make it easy. Relationships end, marriages break and what is left is for you to pick up the pieces of your life and move on…Parenting is knowing that you are ready and prepared to walk that road carrying that little bundle on your shoulder no matter how rough it gets, how exhausted you are, how sick you are and simply put, no matter what.
I was not ready, but I learnt that I never would be. I tried to prepare myself, but the lessons of motherhood are mostly learnt on the run. I love being a mom. And, dear people-ready-for-the-leap I hope you will love parenting too.