My daughter, soon to be 7 years old is slowly growing up to her own self. Yet when I look back now, I’m amazed at actually how much I’ve grown as her mother over these years. I’ve changed and evolved in multiple ways and have often surprised myself. I’ve not only been able to assert to the world that I’m her mother but also found the inner strength to stand up for her.
The first time I stood up for her and more importantly for myself as her mother was even before she was born! I went against tradition followed at my in-law’s place. Aeons ago, because of multiple mishaps, they stopped celebrating shaad (baby shower). Our daughter was born 10 years after marriage, a miracle baby so when it came to her I wanted everything! The family was dead against. Perhaps it was their way to protect her. But I strongly believed if God wanted me to be pregnant (when I did) then there was no way anything would happen to her. So I celebrated with just my husband, mother and sister. My mother cooked an assortment of fishes that I loved. Yum! I’ve never regretted that decision.
For whatever it’s worth, this ritual was never important to me so I couldn’t care less if it happened. Yet it didn’t. Ma says as a toddler I had very thin hair. When she complained to the family doctor he said, ‘don’t shave. Just keep giving her regular haircuts and it’ll grow to be thicker.’ Ma followed his advice and was happy with the outcome :-p My daughter too was born with scanty hair. I followed the same advice. Today she has a thick shoulder-length mane.
This was my toughest battle as my strongest opponent was the father of my child. I wanted it done before she turned six months while he opposed it with a vengeance, as did my in-laws! The arguments turned into fights and emotions ran high. Finally, when she was almost six months, a close friend came to the rescue. He wanted his daughter’s ears pierced too and felt that a doctor at a speciality-birthing centre would best do it professionally.
My husband respects doctors, period! So half my battle was won. He hated my guts but agreed to accompany me. Before she even realized what was happening or could feel the pain, the doctor’s work was done. Immediately after I breastfed her and all was well. My husband still holds this against me and often shames me publicly but I don’t react. What’s the point when I’ve gotten what I wanted :-p
I began using diapers from day one soon after birth! Yes, ma stitched cloth nappies and relatives gifted them too. I used those at home for a few months and diapers when we went out. Thereafter I switched completely to pant diapers much to the chagrin of ‘well-wishers.’
‘You’re harming the child. It’s wrong. It’s unhygienic.’ Yet I persisted changing every few hours. Was she stricken with diaper rash? An emphatic no! It did happen on occasions but using a rash cream and changing often helped. Even though they were expensive it gave me immense peace of mind. Once when I was receiving a lot of flak from home, a close friend said, ‘always remember you’re the one taking care of her. Do what works for you and ignore the others.’ I religiously followed her advice!
Most of my friends and family trained using potty chairs before graduating to commodes. Earlier when only Indian toilets were used, training children on potty chairs made sense. But I felt it was tedious and troublesome. I wasn’t doing it! In hindsight, the arguments at home were actually quite funny and I recall standing in a shop one day with my husband holding onto a cream coloured potty chair while I had a pink toilet seat in my hand. We bought both yet at home guess which one we used?
Every few hours I made her sit on the toilet seat while I sat on a stool in front of her, holding her, talking, playing games, coaxing her to do her thing. I made it a fun experience and she felt grown up! Did I hate the smelly experience? Yes, I did but I would rather bear the smell than double train her!
Sleeping on her Own
Guilty again! Since we brought her home, she’s been sleeping alone on her cot. I’d read about SIDS and it freaked me out. I couldn’t get her to sleep in-between us. The family was unhappy and rebuked me. Yet the fear of SIDS was stronger than the pain of caustic remarks. We used the cot till she was 3 and promptly after her 4th birthday moved her to sleep by herself in her own bedroom. Like always I remained alert and every now and then rushed to ensure she was okay. I surrounded her with big pillows so she wouldn’t roll over. But she did roll over thrice and hurt herself. She would ask to sleep with us sometimes or want one of us to sleep with her. We did that. It gave her the confidence that we were just a call away. It’s interesting that now she rarely wants to sleep with us instead occasionally insists that we sleep with her in ‘her’ bedroom!
I can recall so many more such instances… 🙂
I believe, by the time my daughter was born I’d already become the person I was meant to be – strong-willed, stubborn, independent and someone who craved her own space. Motherhood changed me but simultaneously it strengthened my outlook regards what I wanted for her. She’s my strength and I hers. In many ways, I feel I’m growing up with her again.