The parenting paradox
The weeks leading to delivery are a paradox of time.
You spend minutes listening to the sound of your breath, perplexed by the weight of your steps, watching your weight, too- no pun intended. Minutes that stay.
You kill hours awash in curiosity- about your little human and life after them. It’s your first time. And so, instead of getting lost in blind wonder, you read (some more) about little humans; usually beginning your search terms with ‘how to’ (insert verb), (insert object – baby’). How predictable you can be! You waddle around like a penguin, looking for and buying everything that will possibly be needed. Because your mantra, as is for every other new mother, is that it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. And then bowel movements increase exponentially, and you spend more hours reclining and inclining looking for the quickest and easiest path to lift your body. You use the remaining hours subconsciously placing your hands on your belly waiting on the kicks, or massaging your now puffball feet, or bouncing on your birthing ball to pacify the pelvic pressure that has been mounting by the day. You hit 37 weeks and time stands still as you wait on ‘any time from now’. And as expected, hours start lingering long in this maiden wait.
And yet the days fly by. You barely have enough time to complete your handover notes at work. Or pack the hospital bag, then unpack it, then repack -THEM because you have just realized that you perhaps need two bags. One for you and one for the little human packed with seven outfits because you would like to charm them with an array of picturesque options at hallo. Between getting the nursery immaculately ready and generally making the home baby friendlier, you run short of time. Before you can learn how to use the sterilizer and before you can figure out how to use the pump. Before you can even look up the one critical ‘how to’ that slipped your mind- how to bathe a newborn.
You watch your husband struggling to fix the car seat, just as clueless about the infant ‘lying’ position as you are. And in this moment, your feet go ice cold with anxiety and unpreparedness all at the same time.
On your way to the hospital he asks if you are okay, it is unlike you to be this quiet, your right hand fiddling around the space between the back of your right ear and collar bone, your eyes fixated on the color of the air outside the window on your left.
You struggle to swallow (nothing) and remain unblinking in an attempt to hold the water in your eyes back. It was meant to be a happy day, a blissful moment. But then you are worried sick by the sudden realization that there is no guarantee of life to either you or the little one, the nervousness about your baby’s health, the probability of milk not showing up on time, your virgin-ness to the whole mothering experience (pun very intended ) and the pressure (within you ) to be a good mother- the best that there ever was. But how can one be good at something that they have never been? How can they offer the best of what they do not know?
You turn your watery eyes to him and offer your right palm to lock his left and rest both gently on his thigh.
“I don’t know”, you say. “I don’t know how to be a mother” … you add with a hopelessly broken voice. “And I am scared, and unprepared and, and an…” You loose your voice in the hard breath stuck on your throat.
He squeezes your hand softly and says it’s okay not to know- you will figure it out together. But what he knows for sure is that you will do great, and this little human is the luckiest baby to have you for a mom. And with that, every ounce of doubt takes a chill pill.
It’s been three months now since. The most beautiful chapter of my life yet.
I have watched her grow every single day with such pure wonder, gasping in awe at every little first of hers. Her first social smile met by a reflex (ear to ear ) smile from this mother (of hers) whose heart was melting in warm ecstasy. And days go by with me trying to develop my career as a clown in an attempt to get more of those charming giggles from this little one.
I have learnt to be kind to myself because motherhood is a handful. I have outgrown the phase of hoarding her and learnt how to ask for help when I need it and accept help (with more open arms) when it is offered.
I have become more tolerant to being inundated with unsolicited pieces of advice, sieving through what makes sense to me and taking to the bin what doesn’t without fretting. Because while these comments of how to, and what to and what not to may come from a well-meaning point, they tend to land wrong to the ears of a mother who is only attempting to offer their child the best, the best way they know how. (public announcement break: ‘Just because a mother is parenting differently from what you think is conventional, it does not mean that they are parenting wrongly you judging Judy😁’)
I have found my balance in the imbalance of days and nights. Holding onto happy moments of smiles and giggles while I can; and motoring through the long colic nights and hard parts of parenting knowing that there is an end in sight. Because as sure as the sun rises, a day is coming when she will no longer be nursing, when she will sleep through the night, when she will stop fitting in my arms and sadly, when she will need me way less.
And so, while they still need you, love them deeply and care for them as tenderly as you can, without ever forgetting that you are the best person for that job in every season! Always💕
kimuya View All →
Big little girl | story teller for all seasons | Kenyan |
Oh how I love this piece. So real. So in touch. I reminisce the struggle from birth to leaving the hospital. Several months down the line, my young man doesn’t what want mummy to hold him. But si Ni life?
Thanks Jacque. Haha, pass my love to the young man ❤️
Very good piece. You have captured every bit of being a new mum. I like the part where you talk of the advice you get from everybody. The best thing to do is just to listen and do what works for you and your baby. There is no prescribed formulae in parenting. At the end of the day every parent does the best for their child.
Thanks Jackie. And yeah, used to fret a lot in the beginning, nowadays I don’t even notice the unsolicited pieces