Sunday, May 3

Because...I'm the mom! 

When I first heard about this tag, initiated in my circuit by Shankari, I wondered how the gargantuan joys of motherhood could be compressed into five little nuggets. Then I read her note, followed by Pragya’s, and realized we were merely skimming the surface of an abyss for the purposes of this project. I also realized that motherhood, as big as it is as a collective phenomenon, a Zeitgeist passed down through generations of mothers, is unique, just as every child is.

So, even though I sit on groupthink ledge with two of my favorite mommies and dangle my feet at the world, I will reflect on the five things that I love about being a mom by looking beyond the mirror and gazing deep into my little one’s eyes, which, to me, is like getting a print screen of her mind’s eye - there is no subterfuge to fret over, the world’s atrocities are too faraway to cast their ghastly shadows in there.

The first thing I love about being a mom is that I have fallen in love with life, with my husband, and with myself all over again. Not to mention my own parents. From the day I found out I was going to be a mom, to the months that led up to the birth of my angel - this red, wrinkly, blotchy, bundle of joy that I laid my eyes own and started to cry inconsolably, I had been chiseling away at my inner self to create an entity I wanted to become. The very knowledge that I was going to become a mom helped me push myself to traverse the fringes of womanhood…and in due course, I was brimming with such ferocious love and motherly instinct that I was ready to take charge of not only my little angel, but to also care more for my husband, to nurture my little family. I have since also transformed into a more placid, enduring, and selfless (even if faintly so) person. I have embraced life wholly, realizing that its blessings are far more valuable for me to cringe at the challenges it throws, or thump my fists against the wall every time a dream is shattered, or a plan goes askew. I love my own mother, my father, and my husband for better reasons now - I am able to see through the haze of follies and foibles that shrouds us all, and appreciate them for being able to give beyond measure, for taking on their roles with such sincerity and for being able to adapt to every situation effortlessly. Parenting is the toughest job in the world, yet they make it seem like a breeze and fill me with a sense of pride, and a sense of resolve owing which I am able to keep on, sometimes in tandem, and at others, in the lead.

The next thing I absolutely, truly, deeply treasure about being a mom is the knowledge that I am the center of my little one’s universe (although it may only be transient), and I do swell with pride knowing that the reverse will always be true. I love being loved, being looked up to, being constantly sought for help with tiny tasks, for answers to life’s littlest questions, for approval of the smallest dares, for a sense of belonging, for shelter, for comfort, for pity, for more love and more caring each day. I also love, despite the momentary spasm it thrusts in my veins, being toppled over for daddy to take on the “one I love most in the whole wide world,” mantle, in a spur-of-the-moment decision. I like sharing that center-stage with him from time to time, and I often envisage the time when she is ready to wed…when daddy will take her in his arms and waltz across the room, their feet tapping gently; then pausing in perfect harmony, the floor a mere sheet of gauze under their feet… as I look on with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks, making puddles by my feet. That is my one unselfish reverie, for I admit I am the be-all in the others, and daddy is merely a spectator, cheering us on.

Being a full-time mommy, and a hands-on one at that, has taught me to practice as I preach, to mind my demeanor at all times - as I am constantly being observed, emulated, and analyzed. I love that all of this has grounded me in more ways than I could ever imagine, and enhanced my levels of perseverance. It has also made me realize just how much there is to learn yet, and how much more to give.

Another thing that I love about being a mommy is that I have reaped the rewards of going all out and doing things the way they were done in grandma’s time. No shortcuts will do. No reverberating gadget lulling her to sleep - I love singing golden-olden lullabies and ruffling her hair softly till she dozes off; no Domino’s or Partypallooza-Hot-Spots taking care of her social needs - I love organizing play dates and involving her in every aspect of it - be it making cards, making pizza rolls, or stirring up that lemonade; no store-bought ready-to-bake/eat/ingest/digest stuff - I love baking cookies and cakes from scratch with my little one, with flour in our hair, chocolatey goo on our aprons and eggshells peering from the ridges of the whisk; no ready-to-microwave food, as I love cooking fresh meals for her. The joyfulness that stems from doing all this cannot be condensed into words. It should suffice to say that I often find myself bursting at the seams with the satiety that brims over.

Last, but certainly not least, comes the aspect of motherhood that overwhelms every mother so completely that there is no sensation possibly in the entire world that could override it. It is the power of endurance that comes from deep within when our children are sick. We are ready to relinquish food, water, sleep and everything else that matters in the framework of material existence, in order to care for them. There is nothing more agonizing for a mother than to watch her child writhe in pain, cry, feel hurt…without being able to do anything about it. The past month was a harrowing one in our household, with ghastly virals assailing us and relapsing at the fall of every dusk, and especially in the case of my little one, complications manifesting in brutal forms, nearly toppling over one another, leaving us feeling completely blanched out and helpless. And if it wasn’t for this miracle called motherly instinct and the power that comes with it, I would have been a hopeless nerve-bundle of misery. Right from the early colic days to phases where common and unpredictable illnesses have struck, I have stared right in the face of anxiety with an ever-distending threshold for endurance, sitting constantly by her side…touching, feeling, watching, sensing, caring, and praying.

Motherhood is wearisome, but there are rewards, and they’re bigger than life. There was a time when I couldn’t wait to hear her say “I love you, mommy,” and have her cover my face with butterfly kisses. When, as a month old baby, she would clasp my hand, I would foresee the day when she’d slip her jumpy, tiny hand into mine as we’d approach school. We have been there and done all that by now, and I’m only glad to have traded in my self-absorbed, headstrong, Trendy-Jane-of-the-hour life in exchange for a current and very happening “frightful fours” phase. And those butterfly kisses that wet my face, they’re still what keep me going - they wake me in the middle of the night and boost my energy to heed a nightmare’s calling, play sport at dress-up by wearing macaroni necklaces while tackling a zillion other household chores, or say, put my thoughts down like this.

Afternote: Thanks, Sha'ree, and Prags, for letting us take a peek into your worlds as mommies, and of course, to the one who initiated this beautiful project.