Lost and Found

There’s no question in my mind that that letter came to me just when I needed it. I’m certain it came to make me smile on a particularly gloomy day.

And yet, after the euphoria faded, I cried for the first time in three days. Then the baby woke up and wham! Just like that, I got sucked into motherhood.

Between changing dirty diapers, breastfeeding, potty training, research on vaccines, gentle parenting, learning philosophies, playschools, and countless google searches on ‘is my child a psychopath’, I just forgot about the letter.

I remembered a whole year later, when Mister said that it was the anniversary of Z coming home in my arms. I didn’t remember what the letter said, but I remembered vividly how it made me feel.

So I spent the next few days actively searching for it in odd places, but I never found it. I eventually gave up any hope of seeing it again.

A month ago, the letter found me again when my child was sick and I was full to the brim with self-doubt, as mothers often are.

“Somehow whenever I think of you as a mother, the image of a woman who shares her stories, some funny and outright embarrassing and others that have a lesson or two hidden, one who is fiercely protective and also lets them speak their minds, never enforces her opinion in matters of love and religion and always a guide, friend and fellow traveler in the course of life” 

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Thank you, Nisha, for reminding me of what my true north as a parent is. I’m eternally grateful.

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Lost

With the newborn nestled in my too-tired arms, I looked at Mister and mom’s happy, excited faces – none of them had left my side even once through the two nights we spent at the hospital after I gave birth.

As Mister pried open the lock on the house, I waited behind him, feeling intensely unhappy. I was about to walk into the door for the first time as a mother, into an untidy, dusty old home instead of a “Welcome home baby” banner or a red carpet.

As the door creaked open, I realized that there was a carpet alright – made with the dust and the mail that had accumulated while we were gone. Mom picked it up, and as we struggled to settle down, she announced that one of them was addressed to me.

I was exhausted, and I asked Mister to check what it was. Hey, it looks like fan mail, he said. From the girl in Hyderabad who sent you a letter before.

Read it, I said.

Now?

Yes. Please.

He opened his mouth to tell me it could wait until he had put the luggage down (I had packed a pretty big bag for the hospital), but I suppose he sensed how I was feeling so he read the letter anyway.

I could physically *feel* the happiness flood through me as I heard the first few words. I hope this letter catches you at a time when you have your bundle of joy safely nestled in your arms. 

There’s your warm welcome, I said to the baby. I like to think that he smiled in his sleep.

(to be continued)

Well, I survived!

The last time I wrote, my life seemed so totally and so utterly unmanageable that it filled me with anger. Not the kind of anger that makes you lash out, but the quiet, simmering anger that nobody tends to notice – which my angry mind quickly translated to nobody cares.

So I remained absent not only from the blog, but also from life. As my family and friends fawned over Z, I withdrew further and further into the shadows until suddenly, one day, my little man pulled me out. I can’t explain how he did it or if he even realized I was drowning and here I am, BACK.

I’ve missed you. What have you been up to all this while?

So, worth it?

You know how most mothers gush and swoon when they talk about their children and how they insist that motherhood is so worth it?

Yeah – I don’t fucking get it.

Seriously. I’ve been a mom for twenty-five days, and every single day has been a fucking nightmare. And I’m not even talking about the delivery. That’s the easy part, despite the episiotomy (and the fact that you went through all this trouble and he doesn’t even look like either of you).

Every time Z gets hungry or has peed or pooped, he cries. All of 3 kilos, and he has more lung power than Arnab Goswami on steroids. And he eats/pees/poops in 15 minute cycles.

It’s not surprising then, that the last twenty-five days have seen only four changes of clothes (unless you exclude the hospital gown, which I wore for the two days I was in there – which makes it three changes of clothes over 23 days. So basically I have worn each pair of pajamas-and-tee for about 7.67 days).

The clothes I’m wearing now have safely absorbed six pee puddles and two vomit showers, which is more than I can say for most diapers I’ve tried (if I hear a word about how I should be using cloth nappies, I’m going to scratch your eyes right out). I’m pretty sure these pajamas are going to last me another three days, unless poop gets on it. Maybe not even then.

When your husband asks you if you want to shower, you want to scratch his face with your longish fingernails that have dried poop under them. (Unless your baby just peed, in which case the poop isn’t dry anymore.) If I had fifteen fucking minutes to spare, don’t you think I’d be spending it on something that I actually fucking need to do? Like eat? Or sleep?

The answer is NO. The moment you pick up that cup of tea or lie down on the bed, the Arnabesque wailing will begin. By the time you get back, it’s cold (speaking of both the tea and the bed) and you just can’t, anymore.

Then there’s the breastfeeding, which is (f)actually beast-feeding, but you don’t realize it until those pretty pink lips you were just admiring suck on your tits like a vampire. Yes, there’s blood involved, and no, you never get used to it (at least not for the first 25 days).

All of this leaves you so exhausted and emotionally volatile, you find yourself weeping uncontrollably and thinking dark thoughts, much like the ones in this post. You’re not blind; you know you’re probably depressed, but if the husband even remotely suggests post-partum depression, you get mad and basically prove him right by flailing your arms and screaming at him until he hugs you. Then you’re still mad, but at least you’ve got some physical contact with a human being other than your son.

Speaking of human beings – most days, you don’t feel like you’re one.

Motherhood is so worth it my ass.

You know what I think? I think experienced mothers just really want other women to suffer – just like when you watch a really disastrous movie and you come back and tell all your friends they should go watch it coz it’s so “worth it”. Why drown alone when you can take down the rest of the world with you?

Advice to women without children: stay that way unless you have a lot of patience. At twenty-five days the tunnel seems too long and the light at the end, if there’s one, is too far away.

Dirty Laundry

She sits there, unapologetic, explaining that it was okay for her to be rude to Mister at first because mothers have the right to be concerned about their children’s decisions.

My mind immediately darts back to moments from a lifetime ago.

A neighbor asks how I fared in class 10 board exams – and before I can open my mouth, she says 82%, beaming with pride. I am astounded, because it is a gross exaggeration – a full 5% more than I actually scored. The man in the kurta pajama congratulates me, tells me how proud he is of me, and leaves. Mom instructs me to tell everyone the same figure, because 77 is not good enough.

S., my cousin, is upset with me, and I am crying because the phone is locked and I can’t make a phone call. When she gets home, she asks me to stop bawling, because it isn’t as though his world will collapse if he doesn’t talk to you for an hour. 

I have just broken up with my boyfriend, whom my mother likes and wants me to marry. Who will marry you now, you skinny little scarecrow aren’t exactly her words, but she finds a way to convey it regardless.

When I finally tell her what her nephews did to me when I was a kid, she refuses to believe me. You must be imagining it.

I have always known that my existence was meaningless and feeble, even inconsequential to hers – and I was basically just a burden she couldn’t seem to get rid of.

And she is looking me in the eye and telling me: I was concerned about you. 

This, coming from a woman who never said a kind word to me in her life; had nothing to convey except her disappointment at how I turned out. Blind, hot, white rage flashes through me like a lightning bolt.

I scream until my head explodes, and then walk out.

I step back into the room only to overhear what my sister has to say – she needs to understand that the past was equally difficult for all of us.

Equally difficult? Rich, coming from our mother’s favorite child who has never been abandoned like I was.