The second snip

My son started nursery school 2 weeks ago. The first week was orientation and I was present with him throughout. He was fine. The second week he had to sit through 3 hours of school without me. He bawled his eyes out for the first 30 min every day. But he was ok. This week – yesterday was the same clinging-to-Amma’s-legs-and-crying routine. Today? Today he walked in like he owned the place, kept his bag in its place, looked at me and said, “Will you come back later, Ma?”. And when I said, “Yes, baby! I’ll come pick you up at 12!”, he turned and walked away to his friends and toys. Not another glance. His class teacher and I were gaping at each other wondering what the heck just happened.

And on the drive back home, I realized what just happened – the second snip on the umbilical cord. He’s spending a part of his time on his own, without me. Without his parents or his home. His first few tentative steps towards being himself.

Even though technically the cord is cut at birth, the way I see it, the first real snip was when I stopped nursing him. When my body no longer nourished his. When he had to eat and drink on his own, to nourish himself. His body and mine were no longer connected in any way. If I ate, that does not mean he got the nutrition anymore. The first few days I was actually apprehensive – is he getting enough food? Is that formula any good? What if he loses weight? You get the drift. But then I adapted (yes, me and not him). And before I knew it, there were a whole new bunch of challenges to face and milestones to celebrate. Like weaning him off the bottle. Like the first time he recited the entire Gruffalo book to an awestruck mother and father. And then came school.

After breaking our heads on a million different parameters and planning which banks to rob, we decided on a school and got the admission done. I was more nervous than him, trust me. Nervous mostly on how he would adjust without me. And then I looked at my husband and realized the poor man was even more terrified. The 5 minutes when a teacher took him to participate in an activity (while we listened to the Orientation demo), his attention was entirely on the son and I’m sure he would’ve sprained his neck trying to see where he was and what he was doing. It’s another story that the little guy came back in 5 min saying he wanted us. Yeah, well.

So now looks like he’s all set in school. Yes, there will be days when he still might cry and refuse to go. But I think he knows by now that school is going to be a big part of his life hereafter. Once he makes friends and finds activities he loves doing, he might actually love school.

Well, I hope he adjusts well and adjusts soon. I’m already all adjusted with the 4 hours of ‘freedom’ I’m getting, 5 days a week. I’m planning to catch up with all my friends over breakfast and if that’s not enough, I’m going to make new friends and catch up with THEM over breakfast. Yeah, baby. Because I can. Because I don’t have a toddler hanging off my legs anymore. Well, he does get home by 12, so I have a curfew after that, but still. 4 hours, yo. So many bookstores and supermarkets to get familiar with. So much ‘adult’ time. Please stop me before I sound too desperate and lame over 4 measly hours. What? Too late? Ok.

It’s 5 PM now. And he’s here, eating my brains with his ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘where’. Another couple of years and there will be a change in the communication. I’ll probably be running to Google every hour to answer him then, but hey, it’s good progress! As before, there will be new challenges, new beginnings and a lot of more memories. I guess the next milestone I’m looking forward to is to have a diaper-less handbag for myself (yes, my bag will always always have a diaper – I might forget keys or even my phone, but good God, I won’t forget the damn diaper).

There will be many more after that, the little steps from being a baby to a little boy to a teenager to a grown man. Some good ones, some that will make you realize how fast time flies, some that might even break your heart a little bit. For now, I can probably take heart with the fact that there is still a long time for the third and final snip – when he flies the nest, armed with whatever we have taught him, chasing his dreams and all I am is a contact on his phone that says ‘Amma’.
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To have or not to have

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Motherhood evaded me thrice. The fourth time I prevailed. By then, it had come down to pure probability – the more times I lost, the better my chances of a win. But it’s so tiring. Physically and emotionally. Once that need comes in, that need to create life and nurture it, little else can compensate for the absence.

Sometimes I feel it’s a very selfish thing, wanting to have children. I mean, the child didn’t exactly ask to be born, right? I wanted a child. Me. I wanted to be a mother. Ironically, once you do become a mother, somehow, you enter this whole phase of selflessness where anything and everything you do is for that little person who you brought into the world. Good one, God – we humans must be such a source of entertainment for you! 😉

Where am I going with all this? As usual, nowhere. I have a small presence on Instagram and my next photo there will be my 1000th. Since I’m such a sucker for mostly meaningless milestones (I originally wrote just ‘meaningless milestones’ but who can pass up a chance for a pathetic alliteration, eh? I can’t!), I will make a little disturbance in the otherwise calm surface that is my blog and watch how far the wave travels before returning to steady state. Given how cliched the world is, my 1000th photo will obviously be one of my son’s. I still haven’t decided which one. If you’re wondering why I spend precious time contemplating a photo on Instagram, well, don’t. It’s bad enough I’M wasting time, no reason why you should do it too.

Anyway..long tangent short, I was thinking about the kid and how much the husband and I have struggled to be where we are now. Being childless is like living with a constant pain that just won’t go away no matter what you do to distract yourself or change your surroundings or any of those things you’re told to do by people around you. Oh, as opposed to being childfree, which is a choice and one that I totally respect. And sometimes feel jealous of – you know, during those days when the son is driving me up the wall and it’s all I can do to not lose my cool with him and make things worse (what? I’m human. And I’m just being honest. I dare you to show me a mother who’s all chirpy and happy 24×7, 365.25 days a year. I dare you.).

So yes, getting back, I’ve been on the all sides of the motherhood scene – initially childless, then temporarily childfree and then a mother. Neither of those is an easy place to be in, trust me. If you’re childless, there’s this baby-shaped hole in your life that you can’t fill up. If you’re childfree, there’s all those uncomfortable questions and judgmental glares to navigate through at least till every aunty in a 500km radius and all your Facebook/Whatsapp contacts are sufficiently satisfied that what you do with your life is your business, not theirs. And if you’re a mother, well, it has its own set of challenges, the most difficult of which to deal with is resentment – that others get to do such and such thing while you’re stuck doing the same thing day in and day out (here we are both equal – the SAHM and the working mom) – and it’s never ending. For all of us.

Children. Why are they such a big deal?

Oh wait. The human race. That’s why.

But is that all? Instead of my neighbor and I having one child each, if my neighbor had 2 and I had none – the human race is going to do just fine, no? So it can’t be that.

Then what is it about having children that makes it so complicated irrespective of whether we have one or not?

Is it so we can see little photocopies of ourselves, ours to bring up in our own messed up way? But that doesn’t explain adoption or donor pregnancies. The lengths we go to or are willing to go to, no matter how painful, to attain parenthood.

And why do people look at it as such a bad thing if you decide not to have children?

I don’t know. Tell me, if you do.

Or let’s just wait for an epiphany.