Did someone drug my coffee again or is this what they call the joy of motherhood?
You know the bumper sticker: Avoid Hangovers, Stay Drunk. Well, motherhood is the mother of all hangovers. No amount of alcohol can help you stay drunk. Motherhood also reduces you to a state where you think it’s okay to quote bumper stickers.
Sometimes I wish I had been there, done that earlier. Been a yummy mummy in my 20s. At least I wouldn’t have been surrounded by so many experts, cackling so gleefully. I hear all of you vaguely through the haze.
Don’t massage her anti-clockwise, only clockwise. The bath water isn’t hot enough. Where are her socks? What do you mean she doesn’t like blankets? Why are you still feeding her so much milk? Why are you not feeding her enough milk? All Indian babies need calcium supplements. She’s not eating chicken yet? Cut her hair. Don’t cut her hair. Too hot, too cold, too much, too little—at times it can feel like a psychedelic crisis, if you get my drift. We adopted Babyjaan five months ago, but from what I’ve gathered in my new life, the nights are longer/darker when you breastfeed.
Nobody prepares you for motherhood. And no, cover your electrical points, put away your breakables and buy lots of baby wipes doesn’t count as prep. I think it’s the world’s oldest conspiracy. Mothers want more women to join their suffering ranks and so they hold back all the key information until your baby actually arrives. Then they can’t stop with the horror stories. “You have one girl. Now you can imagine how I managed five boys,” my aunt said laughingly. Hmm…my childhood memories of her are mostly situated in her kitchen.
White noise: Sorry for the disturbance.
And no I’m not going to break my secret motherhood pledge so you can make a more relaxed transition. Okay maybe just a few quick hints: Replace your daily ritual of “wake up and inhale early morning cuppa” with “wake up and try not to inhale scary smell of baby poo”; remember that the Force and Area dance in the Pressure equation (P = F/A) of your marriage will change substantially (you don’t even look at me these days, you never listen to what I’m saying); and learn to bake—all good mothers moonlight as professional healthy bakers, apparently.
Also, if you’ve been used to working all your life in professionally run organizations that reinforce and reward your good work quarterly, be warned. Motherhood is mostly a one-way highway with only the occasional surprise headed to embrace the traffic of your love and hard work. Of course, this is India. You can bypass some of these irksome issues if your baby spends the day with your mother instead of you.
Do you really feel a love you’ve never felt before, I asked a friend, who, like me, decided at 40 that she was finally ready for motherhood. I was a two-week-old mother in a catatonic state then. Yes, she nodded vigorously, eyes all alight.
Five months into motherhood I’m a little more in control. I’m back to bathing every day, I even show up at work (although the caffeine in my office canteen only makes me feel more sleepy), and I once colour coordinated Babyjaan’s outfit with mine (so what if it was accidental). Next step: Focus on grooming my nails, conditioning my hair.
When I crawl on all fours chasing after Babyjaan as she chortles and races off pat pat pat pat from room to room, I can hear my knees plotting their revolt. I complained of low energy levels to my orthopaedic surgeon-good life mentor who prescribed little green pills (you know you’re old when ginseng is an ingredient in your pills). He also directed me to a news story about another of his patients—a 107-year-old woman who just had partial hip replacement surgery and is raring to walk again. God forbid I make it to 107, Babyjaan will be a senior citizen!
But before that I have to cross the terrible twos, the Barbie years, homework and age 9 (it’s the new 13, haven’t you heard?). Through all those years I have to keep her safe from all the predators out there. Plus, they say you’re not a real mother until you’ve organized a birthday party.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m addicted to my new breathless, back-breaking life. I already have a hard drive full of recorded-on-my-BlackBerry moments. Like 7 February. The day Babyjaan looked me in the eye-twice-and firmly announced: Ma-ma.
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