I will tell this honestly, my evenings are not very enjoyable anymore. I look forward to the moment when Gini’s daddy walks in through the door after a long day at work. As soon as he is in, I make him a cup of strong tea, just as he likes it. While he drinks his cuppa, we tell each other about our day. So far so good. But the moment he rinses his cup, things start to go downhill.
The clock strikes 7:00 and it is time for Gini’s last solid meal of the day. Also known as mummy’s least favourite time of the day. In my weakest moments, I feel like an utter failure as I haven’t yet been able to come up with a single dish that Gini enjoys in the evenings. No matter what’s on the menu, Gini fusses and fusses and fusses some more the moment she lays her eyes on the first spoonful of dinner approaching her.
Last Friday was especially difficult. These days, Gini only wants to walk – all day everyday. She squirms if I hold her, gets restless after playing with her toys for mere minutes. She has even learnt to shuffle her bottom, throw her legs down and climb out of the sofa or the bed. This means I cannot take my eyes off her for even a nano second while she is awake. On the said Friday, my back broke with the effort of supporting her and making her walk. And the clock conspired by crawling as slowly as it could.
By the time Gini’s daddy got home, I was already broken from keeping pace with my active little lovely. Then the clock struck the dreaded hour and the ordeal began. I struggled for 5 mins to get the first spoon into her mouth. Oh, I forgot to mention, I am Gini’s feeding chair. Yep, you read that right. She attaches herself to one side of my hip. I hold her with one hand and feed her with the other. We go from room to room, looking at her favourite things (paintings on the walls, air vents etc.) as I try to sneak in spoonfuls.
Needless to say, it is hard work. Especially when she is squirming and she was doing plenty of it that day. After coaxing her gently, singing to her, making faces at her failed to get her to open her mouth, my patience began to wane rapidly. I was no longer singing or trying to win her over. I just stood there, dreading every bit of it but refusing to give up. Gini, being very in-sync with me, picked up my mood and began getting more and more fretful. And then came the time when I couldn’t take it anymore. Not one more moment of it. I needed to let out my tears, vent my frustrations, scream at someone. So I called for my husband, handed over baby and stormed out in a foul mood.
I paced the backyard again and again, muttering to myself. Hot tears streamed down. I am a failure. I am a horrible mother. I can’t even feed my baby. She hates me. Such thoughts ran around my head, making me dizzy with guilt. I was inconsolable. Inside the house, my baby began to cry too. Hearing her cries intensified what I was feeling and I ran out to the front yard in a blind dash, my tears preventing me from seeing where I was going or why.
It was a chilly evening and I was bare feet. The sharpness of the cold grass came as a shock. I sat down on the swing and continued to wipe my tears. My world was crumbling around my feet and I didn’t even have my family to bank on. It was all just too much. The water had long crossed the danger mark. I felt utterly hopeless and wanted very badly to run up to my mother and hide behind her.
But something happened. I opened my eyes and looked up. What I saw changed how I felt instantly.
The lights were on in all the rooms of our house. In Gini’s room, the curtains hadn’t been drawn properly so I could see inside. I saw her favourite toys like Big Eyes, Lola and Elephant strewn around. Her yellow xylophone was on top of her daddy’s guitar case. Her night suit was neatly folded on top of the bureau. A tub of Sudocreme was nearby. Beyond her room, I saw the living room. More toys, more clothes, an upturned baby shoe.
I moved towards the bedroom and from the slits in the blinds, I saw Gini and daddy playing. Daddy had undressed Gini for her bath. She was in her diapers and snug in his big arms. I couldn’t hear them but it looked like he was singing to her. After a while, they noticed me, standing like an urchin outside and waved at me, signaling that I should come in. A fresh bout of tears sprang.
At that moment, for the first time ever, I realised something. I realised how we looked to those who might be looking in from the outside. By distancing myself from the scene for a few moments, I gained a third person’s perspective of our family. And it didn’t seem all that bad after all. The house didn’t look unkempt. It looked lived-in. The baby didn’t look distraught. She looked happy and loved. My messy, unkept house transformed into the house where love lives. Where the people aren’t perfect but are perfectly happy together.
I wiped my tears and walked back inside, thanking my stars to be back. Yes, there will be more screams, more fussiness, tantrums, mess and struggles in the road up ahead but I can’t think of a lovelier way of living.
second image courtesy: free images.com