….and I am starting to hear my own thoughts again. Which is a relief.
Around the same time last year, Kapil and I finally decided that we have had enough of peace, quiet and enjoying our life. It was time to shake things up a little and throw ourselves a little challenge. So we decided to have a baby.
Following a bumpy 2013 which involved changing cities, jobs and several apartments, we ended the year with the final hump as we welcomed our son into the family in December.
Now a lot of my friends have had babies over the years and I have heard so many varied reactions that it has been hard to predict where in that spectrum my feelings will fall. Over the last 6-8 weeks there have more lows than highs, and several moments where I have questioned my sanity.
So here is the lowdown on what it means being a parent:
It’s overrated! - I know it’s too early to tell, but I don’t see any immense sense of satisfaction, reward or sense of achievement come my way soon. A friend of mine joked that we might have to wait for the day our child graduates to feel that! It’s nice being a parent, but I don’t think it’s the best thing to have happened to me. I love my kid to death but this is definitely not on my list of top experiences yet. Eventually it may be, but if you have just had a baby and don’t feel elevated to another level of happiness in the first few months, it’s okay.
Loss of “Me” time – For a person like me, who has always been fairly independent and enjoyed a daily dozen of ‘me’ time, this sudden yanking away of my personal space, is the hardest thing to adjust to. The first week after the baby was born, I was too busy recovering and trying to make head or heels of the situation. By the second week however, the loss of normalcy and the my old routine started to get on my nerves. I was starting to resent my situation and several people told me that it’s perfectly normal to hate your life in the first few weeks. I know having a baby changes some things but for me it’s important to remain in control, and this loss of self was not acceptable, so hubby and I worked out an arrangement, where I will get an hour or so for myself daily. I used that time to take a walk, or read a book or just take a long hot shower – those few moments for myself went a long way in helping me deal with this new sensation of being a mother.
Change of Lifestyle – For years and years I have been hearing, that having a baby will change your life forever. And I have been arguing that any major life event – getting into college, leaving your parent’s home for the first time, getting married, falling in love, falling out of love – all of these events are life changing. And it’s a relief to be right. I do realize that my life has changed, but I so it has several times in the past and this is not any more difficult or easy than the last time. It comes with its usual set of adjustments and ‘getting-used-to’ things. It is a lifestyle change but even this change is not permanent. The best way to cope is to not over think it and just go with the flow.
The Drudgery– Having a baby is not the toughest things to do. If I look back at my life I have faced tougher mental and emotional challenges, but it is definitely the most draining thing I have done. Baby means work – lots and lots of work. No matter how you much love your baby, nothing makes endless cycles of changing diapers, feeding, washing and calming a crying child fun. People will keep telling you that this too shall pass, but you won’t believe them. You will feel like Sisyphus, rolling the god damn boulder up the hill for the rest of eternity.
I know this seems like a rant, it isn’t. Life as a new parent is not all that bad, the fact that I can take time to write about it is proof enough that things get better. And there are things that I enjoy….
My baby’s smile – Yes, I know this sounds terribly clichéd but it’s so true. While I won’t go as far as to say that my son’s smile makes my day, but it does make the work easier to deal with. It’s fun to watch his expressions as he looks around his new world and starts recognizing voices and faces. These are the moments when my love for him becomes a reality and the experience of being a parent takes actual meaning. Also, his smile lets me know that I am doing something right.
Slowing Down – When we did not have a kid there was this frenzy to fill our spare time with stuff to do – go to the movies, concerts, travel, meet friends, shop, eat out etc . Now there is very little spare time to fill and very hard to predict when that spare time will show up. So you automatically slow down and savor the moments and life. Simple things in life have become fun again. K and I find ourselves enjoy a walk around the neighbourhood and sipping a cup of coffee in the café around the corner. Eating take-out food is cool again, and I am able to catch up on my reading.
Watching loads of TV – In the first three months, babies have very simple needs. They want to be fed, changed and put to sleep. Now books tell you that feeding should be a time to connect with the baby and you should not multi-task. To be honest, I don’t think my son cares. I know he cares only for the bottle. When he is hungry, he just wants his milk and he is not interested if we are talking to him or dancing the hula hoop. K & I have discovered that watching TV while feeding him or just holding him, is a great way to unwind for the day.
Toning those arm muscles – I have hardly ever been to the gym in this life and my notion of exercise is a twenty-minute stroll around the block. I now have to lug my 10 lb son around for a good portion of the day. I know I am building some serious muscle strength! The chores at home just add up to and I am more active than I used to be. Of course, I am not going to shed that baby weight just by working around the house but after the last trimester of pregnancy where walking left one out of breath, being up and about and always on the go is such a welcome change.
More family time – This may be a little subjective but when a baby arrives in your family everyone wants to come over, help and spend time with you and the little one. This is a great time to reconnect with siblings and parents. As the new parents are high-strung in the initial first days it is important to establish boundaries and come to an understanding on how everyone can contribute.
At the end of the day everyone experiences parenthood differently – a lot of dependent on the pre-existing expectations and the kind of person you were going in. I know I will have fun eventually even if getting used to the idea of being a mom will take some time.