When my son was born, I didn’t know how to fit him into my schedule. For me, at that point of time, tending to a child was just another activity in my daily chart or to-do-list of activities!
Post the initial, unavoidable months of feeding, pooping and sleeping, I decided he should have a routine of his own and so should I. I happily went about planning my work around him, assuming things would fall in place gradually. Alas! Everything was falling apart and my schedule was going for a toss. I didn’t know what the problem was, until my mother told me something that I will value throughout!
“Make him a part of your schedule” she told me one day.
Now what was I doing for so long? I, at the helm of another overwhelming bout of crying, wanted to indulge in a long lecture to her, when she again pointed out.
“You are planning your schedule, but without him. Try and have a schedule with him! He should be a part of everything that you do. That way, you will be mentally prepared for having him everywhere, you will become more accepting of this change and you won’t have to do anything extra or exclusively for him!”
I stopped in my tracks. True! I was planning a lot for him and myself, yet was failing in executing most of it! I knew what was going wrong!
My schedule was mostly revolving around my work, grocery shopping and the household chores, but without my kid. Any interference from the child was annoying me as my work was getting lengthened and I was left feeling more and more overworked, not to mention overwhelmed. I just had a separate time (say an hour after every piece of work), allocated for him throughout the day, which was making 24 hours seemingly short!
Suddenly my mother made me realize that my child was not a job that I had to do every day for a fixed time, but rather a lifestyle that I should be embracing, and that too whole heartedly. It was like breathing while doing everything!
Now, I don’t propagate the idea of taking your child to your work place, but yes, if you have the luxury of having him around anywhere nearby your workplace, by way of crèche or day care or a friend’s place, then that could be your good luck! The more the child feels you are nearby, the more comfortable he feels.
I was lucky because of the nature of job I had. As a freelance content writer, I could work from home with my child hovering around me. I started giving him his set of toys or a set of pots and pans, while simultaneously telling him that “mommy has to work now”. Although initially, “work” was a big joke and then as a baby, he would often giggle after yanking a key from the keyboard or switching off the laptop, but slowly with repeated seeing of laptop and me, he got a faint idea what “work” was for mommy! It worked. Not completely, but now in the work schedule of four hours, he will at least let me work for a solid two-three hours, while taking up the other half in collateral damage!
Things weren’t easy because I was constantly putting my “me” time at stake, but slowly I learnt to enjoy my “me” time with him! It helped because I became more accepting to that big lifestyle change, which had thrown me off track. Now I stay mentally geared for everything. Now my back up plans also have backups as well. The deviation range has widened, but it has helped me stay sane without getting overwhelmed.
Now, from my outings to departmental store, exhibition, book store, hospital (for myself), to even lunch dates with my friends, my kid accompanies me everywhere. This has made me more accepting towards life, towards my baby and not to mention myself, especially my new “mommy” avatar.
I even took him to my office a couple of times, to help him understand what mommy does and maybe because, I too wanted to feel that I could work with a kid around! It worked well, especially on days when the visit was kept short! On other potential days of a lurking hurricane, I had to shoot back home!
The problem in the settling phase of newbie mommies is the very challenge of being able to accept child as a part and parcel of ourselves! No matter how happy we are with the small sized version of ourselves, yet we gradually tend to see the child as a duty, another job that we need to address. It’s not that we don’t love our kids, but the ‘duty’ element in the relationship supersedes the ‘joyful’ aspect of the equation.
That ‘individual’ or rather the ‘personal space’ desire is what sometimes bogs us down and we feel we are just investing time in the “mother” aspect of our personality and doing nothing much towards that ‘individual self’! We see the child as another road block in doing everything else! It’s because of this that some newbie parents, are not able to enjoy motherhood, despite doing so much for the child.
The reason is right there. It is because we have kept the ‘child’ as a separate entity while doing everything else! Sorry if I’m hurting the sentiments here of the newbie parents, but it’s true. And this feeling grows manifold, when the child also doesn’t respond well towards those routine jobs (for eg. finishing his meal at one go, sleeping well and on time etc.), making us feel worse about our job again!
This further stems our assumption of failing as parents all the time! This failure is what makes us feel inadequate, despite the efforts put in. Since, in our minds, in that routine of our child, the focus is so much on routine jobs of the kid( like feeding, sleeping etc.), that any deviation suggests our failure. We tend to take these small milestones as achievements for ourselves as parents and feel adequate/inadequate.
These mundane jobs are crucial, but as parents, we need to set better and more meaningful milestones in our relationship. Only then, the joyful aspect of the equation will surface. By investing time in our kids, by making them a part of our routine, the child will feel happy and important. Meanwhile, at the same time reminding us, the parents, that we aren’t doing any favor on the kid! We are just leading our lives, doing everything else, but with a kid. This realization is sufficient to keep us grounded and not set any unrealistic expectation from the child by way of silly milestone achievements. We remain more open to changes, mistakes, setbacks and everything in between, crucial in those special moments with the child. We tend to focus more on the ‘togetherness’ rather than on the achievements through mundane routine jobs!
It is difficult, yet not unattainable. We need to train our minds for that big lifestyle change and for that wonderful bundle of joy, who we brought willingly into this world. Let us not tag him/her as another duty. There is definitely more to that than mere duty there. We just need to equip ourselves, so as to truly understand the bigger picture, appreciate and savor this new lifestyle change!