After a series of unexplained miscarriages, I was finally blessed with a baby girl in July 2010. It was the most special day of my life, even more special than my wedding day and I have no qualms about admitting it. It’s ironical though, cause it was the latter that lead to the former anyway 😉
So, almost immediately after my delivery when I held my bub for the first time, it struck me that there is something absolutely magical about staring into the eyes of a new born. In a matter of seconds your brain is flooded with an all-consuming desire to love, care, nurture, protect, shield and cherish them for the rest of their lives. In a matter of seconds, nothing in the world is as important, urgent or earth-shattering anymore. In a matter of seconds, you become a parent ♥♥
Somewhere along this journey of parenting, you also realize that while your intentions for your child are good, LIFE at large, is not. As a parent, you cannot possibly control what happens to them – good or bad; however, what you can do is help prepare them to cope with it.
Along these lines, let me share with you the key life lessons that I have tried to impart to my little girl, one for each year of her life.
Year 1 – To love and be loved is the best feeling in the world.
All I did in Year 1 was try to get a grip on motherhood – like seriously! Nobody prepares you for the 360 degree turn that life takes. All of a sudden, you are accountable for this teeny tiny miracle who’s life revolves around you, and vice versa. And if that was not enough, there are other pertinent issues like breastfeeding, lack of sleep, mood swings, post-partum depression stretch marks, weight gain etc. etc.
So for the first year, I chose the easiest lesson – LOVE, LOVE & more LOVE. As I went about my day doing a 1000 things at a time, and my baby followed her EAT-POOP-PLAY-SLEEP-REPEAT cycle diligently, we made time for a LOT of cuddles, hugs and kisses in between. The daily massage ritual was particularly great for our bonding as much as the rocking and singing while putting her off to sleep. Result – she was growing into a healthy, happy baby. As for me, I knew I was doing something right as her mommy 🙂
Year 2 – At times, it is okay to be on your own.
Year 2 saw my little girl turn into one demanding person. If she wanted something, she wanted it now or else there were wails and cries loud enough to put an adult’s communication skills to shame. I remember myself as a zombie around her at all times, feeding her, playing with her and trying to jam-pack her day with entertainment 24X7. Until, stress kicked in and I knew I wanted a break.
What I realized (though) was that the alone time I wanted for myself was great for my baby too. In fact, when I started ‘letting her be’, she reacted by reaching developmental milestones at a lightening speed! At the end of year 2, she was potty trained (yay!), could attempt to feed herself with a spoon and play with her toys for 15 minutes at a stretch. In hindsight, learning to do little things for herself, and most of all, learning to entertain herself led her towards the path of independence very early on in life.
Year 3 – It is okay to cry.
At 2.5 years, my baby girl started nursery. Back then, I was a working mum and hence schooling this early seemed like a better option than keeping her at home with the nanny. Day 1 went off surprising well – she walked into class like a confident little soul and even turned around to blow me a goodbye kiss! Then followed Day 2, when all hell broke loose. There was resistance and crying from the moment I woke her up, got her dressed, fed her and sat her in the car to drop her off. Throughout the journey, I listened to her grievances and tried counselling her through it. However, once we were in the classroom, I handed her over to her teacher very swiftly, and fled. To be honest, the whining and complaining continued for a few days, almost making me second-guess my approach at times. However, within a month into the system, things changed drastically and she started looking forward to the nursery more than ever.
I think she got the message loud and clear – Indeed, it is okay to cry. Cause sooner than later, there is reason to smile again 🙂
Year 4 – Get up, dust it…and move on.
For my little one, this was an explorative year marked by very high levels of energy and curiosity, a deadly combination in itself. It was in this year that she learned to somersault, swing, climb, ride the tricycle and navigate a scooty around the house. It goes without saying that there was a fair bit of injury, however, we consciously never made a big deal of it. Confession time- my husband never made a big deal of it. As for me, I tried 😉
Every child is destined to face his/her share of disappointments throughout life. Minor setbacks can include losing a game, fighting with a best friend and not being invited to a birthday party. A major one may be not being able to pursue a career of choice on account of low grades. Whatever be the case, that little disappointment is actually beneficial for our kids as long as we teach them to bounce back, with double the force!
Year 5 – You’re just as good as anybody else. Or even better.
This year, as my (not-so-little) girl becomes a tad more detached from me, she is learning to make other meaningful relationships in life. Suddenly, it is all about the friends. And their word – which is the undisputable truth more often than not! So, just the other day when I was packing her school lunch, she turned around and said to me, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to take this for lunch. They do not like it’. Since it was her very first term in a brand new school, I did not want her to feel left out and gave her exactly what she desired. However, two school terms and a couple of reasoning sessions later, this was not a point of discussion anymore.
For children this age, ‘fitting in’ with the crowd is extremely important, even if means having to act in a way that is not true to their nature. Teaching them to recognize their self-worth and be confident of their own choices is one golden lesson that will hold them in good stead all through life.
While I come to the end of this post, a large part of the journey still remains. For the time being though, I cannot think of a better way of signing off..