Mom Speak : Growing up with a toddler
If you want to know how much my life has changed after becoming a mother, go through my phone’s camera roll. You’ll find a seemingly endless stream of photos of my son, punctuated by those of that worrying deep cut on his forehead (he had banged his head on the edge of the table), red spots on his back (most likely mosquito bites), odd-coloured poo and most recently the shot of a tissue with blood soaked snot (he has the flu). These were taken for the purpose of Whatsapp diagnosis from my friends and a cousin who are doctors, to ascertain their opinion on the crisis – also to determine for myself if the ensuing panic was justified; a 100% of the time the answer is in the negative but I went ahead and hyperventilated anyway.
I used to wonder why wine featured so prominently in most of the mommy blogs and memes that I encountered; this was when my parents and subsequently my mother-in-law were in attendance to help with the above mentioned son. Now that both parties are grandparents-in-absentia, I have my answer. Kids drive you nuts. To give you an example what we are dealing with: Of late my husband and I have been subject to I-want-to-wear-my-dirty-nappy dictat. Our two-and-a-half-year-old will willingly lets us remove the sodden buggers but all hell breaks loose when we try to put on a clean one. I spent an hour this morning trying to soothe him and coaxing him to get into a fresh pair.
Growing up is hard, I understand - making sense of a new world, new people, their peculiarities, social conditioning etc. It is just that I had hoped that I had time till he hit teenage. I got two years. Two. The day he turned this number, I think a switch flipped and my sweet mischievous cub turned into a hissing spitting he-devil. Not round-the-clock, no. He gives me enough time between his tantrums to recover or at least be lulled into thinking that it was just a one-off.
Of course at this juncture, having vented my frustration, I am struck (again!) by the ridiculous amounts of love I feel for my little guy, in spite of the hard work and tears (his and mine). That has been for me the essence of motherhood- this very odd paradox which I haven’t experienced before - the coexistence of joy and tears, ups and downs, love and exasperation, rules and silliness, responsibility and letting go – all of these running in tandem, each day, every day. Taking stock of a typical day I look for output/results and to the analytical me it is frustrating to see many boxes left unticked but to the (slightly) wiser me, to see a happy, healthy child is an exceptional trade off.
Paradoxically also, becoming a mum has forced me to take a long hard look at my life, specifically to look for purpose, for meaning. No longer do I linger under the fantasy that I have all the time in the world to find myself. Moreover, I am acutely aware that my son’s future will be shaped by the choices he sees his parents make. After succumbing to the shoulds, I now try and focus on the musts. No longer do I postpone my creative projects in pursuit for perfection; I write, cook and create as if my life depends on it.
Motherhood has been the best and probably the most trying experience of my life, so far. It has tried my patience, tested my resolve, dragged me over coals of guilt but given me one of the best gifts it can offer – to be comfortable in my own skin.
Prerna is a former journalist whose work has appeared in leading Indian newspapers, news and feature magazines, as well as on a leading national news network. Based in London for the last 9 years, she currently works for a disability charity. We wish Prerna and her family all the very best and a lifetime more of love, adventure and creativity. For more from inspiring mothers like Prerna, follow the Times of Amma on Facebook. Follow the Times of Amma on Instagram for a behind the scenes look at our team. If you would like to write a guest post for the Times Of Amma, get in touch with us here.