Bundles of joy and panic

Monday Musing

[ Karyir Riba ]

Have kids, they said. It will be so much fun, they said.

Have you ever heard of the Russian sleep experiment where they wanted to try their gas stimulant, which they believed would enable soldiers to not require sleep for up to 30 days, and experimented on some prisoners to study its effect and to see what happens when human beings do not sleep.

Well, I’d say that the Russians wasted their money, time, energy and resources on the experiment. What they only had to do was speak to people who had children. While their experiment started with an aim to continue for 30 days, once you become a parent, you can kiss your sleep goodbye forever.

I have been blessed with the joy of becoming a mother twice; so, believe me when I say that the cute little bundle of yours will change everything for you. They will take away precious possessions like your freedom and your time, and they will start by gruesomely murdering your sleep.

This is something I did not know when I became a mother for the first time. No one told me. So, all you young people out there who are daydreaming of becoming parents one day, and are thinking “I will sleep when my baby sleeps” or “I will rest when my little one is sleeping” or “I will eat when my angel sleeps,” let me burst your bubble and tell you – No! That doesn’t happen. That is not how the deal works.

You don’t get to sleep when your baby sleeps because you have a thousand other things to get done. And if you are lucky enough to fall asleep after your baby, congratulations, because your baby decides to wake up just when you had started to be sound asleep, and now you have to be wide awake to tend to his/her needs.

I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that, when a mother of a newborn touches her food, her baby automatically starts screeching at the shrillest of their voice to be held. So, most of the meals that a mother has is by holding a baby against her breast with one hand while trying to put something into our belly with the other. After all, a 24/7 milk production requires fuel to work efficiently.

The first few months are the most torturesome. Between all the breastfeeding and nappy changes (which has to happen every few minutes), there is a very little sleep involved, making you function like a zombie. Not to forget the teensy-weensy times you have to snatch from here and there to maintain your personal hygiene.

I got a firsthand shock of turning into a zombie with my first child. I was lucky to have my parents with me. Nevertheless, I remember crying because of not being able to get any sleep.

The pros were that a lot of my habits got a much needed change.

I used to behave like the models of soap and shampoo advertisements and take all the time in my life to take a bath. After my first baby, a five minutes shower became a luxury.

I used to take the longest time to eat my food. My grandfather would call me his little birdie because he said I picked my food grain by grain to eat. My mother would joke about how I should never travel by bus because they would leave me behind at some dhaba where buses stop for their passengers to have their food. After my first baby, eating leisurely became a distant dream.

When you get the chance to go out and get away from your breastfed baby for a while, all you want is to get back to him/her after only a while of not being together.

Oh, there’s no need to get all mushy over this, dear readers. It’s just because you have this intense pain in your breasts because you haven’t expelled the milk in time. If you think you can brave the pain and make the most of your day out, think no further because your angry breasts will do the unthinkable and let out some milk, just enough to make wet circles on your dress and let the world know that you are a lactating woman who has left her baby somewhere for too long. World-class embarrassment guaranteed.

Despite all these and other horrible experiences (I refuse to sugarcoat), the fact also remains that becoming a mother is a special gift. It must sound clich├ęd but the truth remains that your world revolves around your child. You cannot imagine your life without them. I, for one, see my children tagging along with me in my school corridors even when I reminisce myself as a school going girl.

Your child’s happiness becomes your first priority. You want to protect your child from any harm. You take pride in your flesh and blood. You want to give him/her everything.

And the most beautiful gift that you can give the human that you made is a sibling. Another human made by you, to be your first born’s best friend forever.

My older son was the most excited when he learnt that he was going to be a big brother very soon as he had been tormenting me to get him a little brother to play with. He was pretty adamant about having a brother. Much later on, I would come to know from our neighbours that he had offered a few of them that they could have the baby if a sister was born.

So, cut to when his brother was born. My older son, who was then five-and-a-half years old, looked confused and upset. When asked, he said that he had wanted a brother who would play with him but this one doesn’t even know how to stand or speak!

Of course he had to wait for a year and a half for his brother to learn how to perfectly communicate and become his partner in crime, but he would wrestle and throw him around even at as young as six months old (under my supervision of course). The little one enjoyed the rough handling by his older brother and would laugh with him.

The other day, we had a power failure and I sent the two of them to turn the inverter on. The older brother came back fuming, and complained that, just when they had reached the inverter, the younger brother decided to put the round shaped flashlight under his t-shirt and said, “Look achi, I’m Ironman!”

The older brother is afraid of the dark and so the younger brother’s Ironman stunt didn’t amuse him. I had a hearty laugh though.

Being the eldest of four siblings, I had my way around my brother and sisters. My kakam (grandmother) would always scold me for troubling them. She would tell me that I had taken after my father. Kakam told me that my father would trouble his sister (my aunt) so much that whenever he was to return home from his boarding, my aunt would run away to my granduncle’s house to save herself from his torments.

Having siblings is indeed a blessing. You always have a friend to depend on and a shoulder to cry on. You learn so much from each other and the experiences you have together. You have great stories to tell. You always have a feeling of security that your siblings are going to have your back.

Given today’s ways of the world, it can be difficult for the millennials to decide whether to have children or not, or how many to have. To each his own, but coming from a mother of two, do not keep yourself from the happiness of having a child. And do not, under any circumstance, deny that child the pleasure of having a sibling or siblings.

Have a kid. It will be so much fun. Trust me.