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I thought I was a pro at being a parent. After all, I have two children – boy and girl, and I have done well with both of them, despite them being so different from one another. I have more than 8 years of experience at being a mother! So I thought I knew a lot, if not all! Well, that’s not how it is. I am sure if my parents read this, they would say they know a lot only after parenting for 34 years, but even that’s not enough. And I think they would be so right. In the last 3 months of being a mother to an infant again, I have unlearned and relearned and even learned so much.

I thought it is pretty simple and how different can it be from the first 2 times? I told myself that first one was anyways scary because of being first; and the second one was scary because I came back from dead and was practically sick for 4-5 months. Otherwise, it is not really tough to handle a new-born. Think about it – you just need to feed him every 2 hours, change him when he needs and bathe him once a day (though they say it is okay not to bathe an infant every single day but I do). Apart from that, what does a small baby need? Well, that feeding every 2 hours is round the clock, for one! Second, that 2 hours is actually not 2 hours, most of the time and then you have to take into account the time you spent feeding, burping, changing, rocking etc. And bathing such a small baby is scary (it seemed easier the first 2 times because my mom did it!). Period.

There ARE so many other things apart from that. Like, you are worried about what if you do something to the baby and he gets hurt – accidentally scratching by your nails or what if he falls when you are holding him, what if you are too tired to wake up at night and don’t feed him at all, what if he swallows some water in bath, what if he chokes on milk…the list is too long. So you end up cutting your nails too short, not really sleeping because you are too conscious, being very cautious while holding him, all the time keeping your eyes on him while he feeds or sleeps…basically, you end up crazy and exhausted! The long showers are a luxury; you are lucky if you can take a head bath once a week; you are extremely lucky if he doesn’t wake up when you decide to take a short nap; having a day without anything new in baby’s schedule (well, there IS actually no real ‘schedule’) and so many little things that you don’t notice until you actually go through the experience.

YET (a big one) it is so wonderful to do all that, despite the fact that you long for solitude; you feel like going out just on your own and know that it may not happen for another 5-6 months; and the baby might start sleeping for the whole night only after a year (you will NEVER really sleep like you used to, ever, after having children). Why is it so wonderful despite being so exhausting? Well, the list for reasons is even longer than that of learnings!

The little bundle that hardly opens his eyes for first few days, makes you fall in love again and again, several times a day and in several ways. You do not stop thinking that you are so lucky, so very lucky, to have so much love around you. This is really what got me through the initial few weeks, since it was not easy to recover from a 3rd major surgery, and I did breakdown a couple of times, yet I would not change a bit about that. Of course, the older children and my hubby were more of a cause for that feeling of thriving in the presence of love than the baby himself, but it seemed like we were an incomplete family without him…he was the bond that made it all make sense.

It becomes more rewarding when the baby starts recognizing your voice, your smell, your presence and all that exhaustion suddenly makes sense and even adds meaning to your life the first time he smiles at you. Oh that beautiful toothless grin, just pure joy at seeing you! And you feel that it is everything in the world…and you got to experience it for the third time in your life…that’s awesome!

When he starts expressing himself through those wonderful vowel sounds, and he tries to respond to everything you say or every facial movement you make, you tend to forget the world outside this beautiful world.

Of course, there are many many more milestones to come and be grateful for, yet these days are very precious. Soon, the baby will be a toddler and then, a teenager (who might “hate” you), and eventually an adult making his own family. Then, you will miss the sleepless nights, the constant cry for attention, the beautiful toothless smile, the amazing exhausting days…

Till that happens, I intend to enjoy every single bit of this phase…it will definitely seem easier once it is gone, and I will surely miss it like I did the first 2 times…so yes, having another baby is one of the most wonderful things I did…

I might not be a pro at parenting, I might never be one, but I am hell of a happy parent 🙂

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One post is not enough to list down what all motherhood has taught me over the years and I am sure there are is still a lot more to learn, yet there are certain little things you will feel probably on a daily basis – some things that need to be ignored, others that need to be cherished. Here are just a few, since it’s impossible to capture all:

  • The house can be cleaned later, the laundry can be sorted later, but that moment when your child shows you that cute painting, will never happen later. Instead of thinking how you are going to clean the mess, share your child’s excitement at accomplishing a task that he/she thinks only adults can do.
  • If your child wants to wear the same dress on two consecutive days, no one is going to judge you based on that. But that smile on your child’s face when they are allowed to repeatedly wear their favorite dress, will surely make you feel better.
  • Your child cannot be good at everything that the other children are good at. Encouraging a child and forcing them into doing something are two different things and latter is never justified.
  • You believe that you turned out well and yes, your parents had an amazing parenting style. Remember that’s exactly what your spouse also believes. But for your children, you both contribute to their growing up. You both need to be a team. And it is not necessary to follow anyone’s parenting style – your parents or spouse’s parents. In fact, developing your own style is so much more fun.
  • No matter how many children you have and no matter how many times you think that you cannot have more love in your heart to give to someone, you will always have more. The phrase “love someone the most” does not mean anything! I love my two children and the third unborn one so much that I don’t understand how I can love 3 people with the same limitless depth and yet feel there is so much more I can give them.
  • Sometimes, a toy that breaks, a new bottle children lose, a pair of clothes they soil immediately after wearing it, is just that – a broken/lost/soiled thing. Every little incidence need not be turned into a moment of educating them. Sometimes, just letting kids be kids is enough to teach them something about acceptance and love.
  • Every single day is different when you are a mother, so you better not find peace in routine. You have to be prepared to learn every day, every moment.
  • Motherhood is one of those jobs in the world where no matter how much have you have read about it, no matter how much you have studied other mothers, yet you will require on-the-job training and that is the only way you will actually learn. Yet, it would be fun and worth all the worry and pain.
  • Even if you lose it with your kids once in a while and you know your treated them unfairly, it is still okay. Because as you know your love for them does not depend on their behavior, so do they. Children know you love them and your being upset with them or scolding them does not make you a bad mother. And trust me, when you apologize for your unreasonable behavior later, they will always say the same thing, “It’s okay, mama.” It is that simple.
  • Another simple fact for the children is that you are there for them, always. So you better be.
  • You will, for the first time in your life, truly understand what “crying out of joy” really means. You will have tears in your eyes on so many happy occasions that you will lose count.
  • You will feel loved all the time. You will feel proud frequently. And you will be happy even when you think you are overwhelmed. You will basically wonder what kept you busy and what made you happy before you had kids!
  • Motherhood is the most wonderful of all experiences, and there is none other like it!

As a mother, especially if you have young children, you feel overwhelmed most of the time. Most of the days, you love motherhood because you experience little miracles you wouldn’t otherwise. But some days, you just want some moments of peace, sitting silently, doing nothing. After a while, such contradictions become a part of you. As a mother, I have seen so many contradictions in my behavior that I am not even conscious of them anymore. Some of them are:

1. I am enjoying my moments of peace while the children sleep or play outside, and within 5 minutes I have the urge to wake them or check on them. I have to force myself to be where I am and relish the moment, yet my mind wanders to them every 5 minutes.

2. I keep asking kids to be quiet for sometime so that I can focus on what I am doing. When they do, I feel there is something wrong and I call them to ask what happened to make them so quiet.

3. I convince myself that they are grown up enough to take a bath themselves after a visit to hospital or park, yet I go on check on them while they are bathing to make sure they are ‘scrubbing out the germs’ properly.

4. When they ask my permission to pee, I tease them saying wouldn’t they go if I said no and then, add that they are free to pee anytime they want. But when I see them approaching the toilet without saying anything, I ask them “what are you doing?”  or “where are you going?” Of course, I immediately bite my tongue after, but it starts the permission seeking circle once again.

5. While they eat, I ask them if they want more. Mostly, they say it’s enough. Sometimes, when they do say they want another chapati, I usually say “Haven’t you had enough? Aren’t you full already? I don’t want you to complain of tummy pain afterwards.”

6. Sometimes, I tell my kids why do they keep asking/saying – mama, this; mama; that and why can’t they trouble their dad for a change. But when they do, guess what…I have to know why they didn’t ask me!

7. If something falls on the floor and I feel the house isn’t dirty and I am too lazy to go wash the thing again, I pick it up, rub the supposed dust off of it and eat it. When my son observes me doing this and does the same next time, I tell him “Do you think the thing is not dirty anymore? I think you should wash it!”

With all this happening around them, I think it’s just a matter of time before my kids turn to me one day and say “But you only said/did…” And I can imagine myself responding as “What are you talking about!”

After giving birth to two children and raising them for so many years, I thought I knew what I was doing. One difficult pregnancy and another life-threatening delivery later, I believed I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy. I was sure it would be a cake walk the third time around. So, when I came to know about this pregnancy, I was not at all worried, rather I felt so comfortable as I knew what I was supposed to do…wasn’t I? Well, I was so wrong there!

The first 3 months were hard as expected, but this time around, the nausea was as bad as it can be. And I finally realized it was much better to be throwing up all the time, than to be having the feeling without any output…errgh! I started hating food items that have been a constant presence in my life till now. I cannot even look at certain of them. On the other hand, I would sometimes have strong cravings for something and when I ate it, I wouldn’t want to have it again. I am still not able to able to understand what I like these days – sweet, spicy, Italian, Chinese…there is no constant anymore and variables are all in some other plane than my little mind can comprehend.

Anyway, I counted weeks since they say the second trimester is the easiest, and guess what…does anything in my life go as planned? The onset of fourth month brought different set of problems with it. I was even bed ridden for a week. And now, I am thinking “God, just give me the strength to go through all this with a smile.”

Then, there is the issue of finding maternity clothing….either I have too big a bump (though I see them all around, but the makers of maternity clothing seem to think so!!!) or this place is not good for being pregnant (of course another surprise since Qatar is one of those countries where people are encouraged to have more kids). Anyway, I have come up with some temporary solutions, since I know anything that I buy will anyway last only for a couple of months! I even went to the extent of using hubby’s rarely worn long and loose shirts, and I wish he was fatter 🙂 (he will hate me for this but I am desperate).

All in all, as they say every pregnancy is different…I got rid of my “know-it-all” syndrome and dealing with each day as it comes; I think this is the only way.

The best part this time is that since my other two kids are grown up enough to understand, they are pretty excited about the ‘new baby’. In fact, they are counting days and keep asking me questions – the gender, when exactly he/she will be born, how are babies born, what size are they on their birth, when can older siblings start taking care of small babies etc. Of course, their excitement keeps me excited too, and sometimes I too get impatient like them…but then I think,  it’s really easier to take care of yourself in pregnancy than to take care of a new born…so let me just enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

Today is Mother’s Day. Ideally, my kids would have written something for me. They did. My daughter made me a wonderful card, wrote very loving things in it and she even fixed me a snack. They hugged me and kissed me and wished me. And I was touched. Again. I don’t know how the children manage to touch a chord inside your heart so often. I wonder for how long this will last. This thought scared me a little. So I sat down to write something for them today – a message for them when they are older, when they need me and I am not around.

This is what I would say to them.

My dearest Chunchu & Shiku,

If there is a God, I experienced His love through you. I felt love that I could not ever imagine existed, with you. There are many people who have loved me and I have loved, yet what I have with you both cannot be compared with any other joy in my life. I wonder how incomplete my life would be without you. I cannot begin to fathom if I would even know the depth of my own feelings, if it was not for you. So thank you, for becoming a part of my life and showing me what love is all about. Thank you for being my wonderful children and for loving me.

I would like you both to understand this. I know and I believe that whatever life throws at you, you can handle it with as much finesse as you colored with your little hands and as much dedication you put in learning a new thing, when you were little. I assure you that there will be at least equal measures of good and wonderful moments in your life as any tough moments you have to face. I can tell you that no matter what choices you make, you will achieve what you ought to achieve and you will be your best, always. I was and will always be proud of you.

Children, you were my angels, who brought light and hope into my life. Know this. My life meant a great deal because of you. Irrespective of any arguments we ever had, I was always on your side.

I wish you experience the same joy and same love with your children. I have and will always love you more than my life.

Your mom,

Manisha

Three years back, I had written a post titled ‘Being a Mom’ (find it here). I thought I had experienced quite a few years of motherhood to write about it. I had, no doubt, experienced motherhood but I am still having new experiences, learning new things, having those moments of happy tears…and I am sure this will continue throughout my life. I look at my children and the love inside my heart knows no boundaries. I cannot even start describing what their presence makes me feel. I think to put motherhood into words is impossible, is like putting a dam across an ocean. The joys of motherhood are simply too immense to be put into words.

Having said that, I will also confess that sometimes, I wish for some lonely moments with myself, which are difficult to find with two kids around. Many a times, you have to sacrifice sleep to steal away those moments to do something you love. And this is just one of the minor challenges that mothers face. For those having young children, proper and continuos sleep in itself is a luxury. And it is even more challenging if you have a full-time job and a passion that you wouldn’t want to give up. Yes, it might be tough, but is it fulfilling? I personally have no doubt about that!

My children complete me. I still wonder what I used to do before they were born. Sometimes, I wonder, what kept me busy in those days? I feel I have more time in the day now, have more energy now and have more will now. I somehow manage to do it all – get up at 4 in the morning, get the kids ready, pack breakfast for them, prepare breakfast lunch for everyone, get the children ready for school and still reach my own office in time and full of energy to face the day! Of course, my hubby helps me in these tasks. And then, in the evening, when I come back home, it’s like the beginning of another brand new day 🙂 I still manage to serve dinner by 6:45 in the evening so that the kids can get proper sleep; after all they have to wake up at 4:30. And then, sometimes, I read and other times, I write before going to bed myself. The days are busy, yet I look forward to them. That consecutive sleep is still a luxury and not very frequent. The mornings are fast, the days fly by in a jiffy…but it’s all worth it!

Being a mother gives you more reasons to carry on, to love your life, to love yourself, to have courage to face anything and emerge a winner; and to live to the fullest. Being a mom gives you a purpose and a direction. Though there are times when you want to slow down, but when you actually do that, you miss the rush! That’s what life is when you are a mother.

Once a friend remarked that how wonderful it would be when our kids grow up and won’t be dependent on us, and I could not but help wondering – we would miss their dependence on us so much then. I know I will miss the little things – their sudden urge to hug me, calling me all the time at office, asking me to come home early, making small demands like cookies & chocolates, getting upset with me over small things…I will miss the busy days and restless nights! I will miss their constant call for my attention! I will miss this phase of motherhood, like I miss the earlier ones. But I am sure, every phase will bring equivalent joy, similar challenges and lots of learnings for me as a mother. And I hope I always keep busy with my children, till they need me, till I see them off on the journey of their own lives…

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