Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrating this big person called Neel - 1 year and 5 months

I landed on this terrain called motherhood with my face flat on the ground. I stumbled often. I grumbled. I wondered if this endless baby phase would ever pass. If I would ever get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If I’d ever feel sane again. If I’d ever feel a little less harried. I wondered how other mothers did it all (there really isn't anything called 'doing it all'...I know that now). I wondered if I was a real mom, or a fake. Really.

Maybe it was the postpartum depression that made me feel so tightly wound up, so joyless. Maybe it was just me and the fact that I’m not wired to be a ‘baby person’ (my son was the first baby I’d ever held). Maybe it was the 2 long long weeks at the Neonatal ICU and the way that experience shattered something inside. I really don’t know, and I guess, 17 months down the road, don’t much care.

What I do care about is that I’m finally getting my groove. I’m finally getting it. I’m finally coming into my own as a mother. I’m finally able to take the wails and the meltdowns, the chuckles and the tears, the sunshine and the rain, and run with it, all tucked into my stride.

The toddler, small kid, big kid stages are more my thing. I get children, the way I don’t get babies. I see them as little persons with a language of their own, big personalities of their own, minds of their own and a strange logic of their own.

So, as Neel turns 1 year and 5 months old on December 13, I rejoice, I offer gratitude, I pray.  I celebrate the big person that he always was, the old spirit that he is, the eccentric ‘old-man-habits’ that make him both annoying and adorable. I’m grateful for this patch of clear sunshine that we are in at this moment. I pray to the Power above for guiding me on this journey, for returning my son to me when he almost called him back.

It’s such a joy to parent this 17-month-old boy, who is a quirky mix of cute, funny, loud, stubborn, determined, intelligent, charming, challenging. Whether we’re reading picture books and poems at bedtime, scribbling (in the name of art) all sprawled out in the sunshine, playing in the garden or going for our signature long walks at weird times of the day, we’re a team, we’re allies, we’re inseparable.

I’ve always wanted to be in this place of motherhood, when I’m having more fun than fretting, when I’m able to view the exhaustion as just a byproduct of parenting, when I’m more confident as a mom. When I’m still learning and growing but whooping with laughter (and sometimes hollering) on this roller coaster ride called parenthood.

So, when other moms confidently assume that I might be nostalgic about the new baby days, the pre-crawling, pre-toddling days, I couldn’t agree less. I love the present - the sailor’s walk and the Bushman babble, the endless exploring and the busybody bustle, the cuddling and the strawberry kisses, the little games and the funnies. I can sit and watch my son play and babble for hours at an end. It doesn’t make me restless or harried, like I have another place to reach, another route in life to take. 

And that is a piece of precious that I’m going to savor like a lollipop in its last sliver because well, mothering is a roller coaster ride and who knows what each day, each month, each stage will throw at me. But for now, for today, I’m wrapped up in this blanket of gratitude & joy.

 text & photos by chandana banerjee

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