It is a beautiful day here in Karachi. Sunny with just the right amount of chill in the weather. Not enough chilly to make you pull out a sweater but enough that you will break out in goosebumps when you do Wudu for Fajr. Little H is finally sleeping after waking up at 5 a.m. and driving me crazy for two solid hours! Little Madam wanted me to sit and pat her to sleep forever and if she caught me closing my eyes or lying down a tantrum will ensue. H’s latest quirk is having me pat her for ages while I sit. I am not allowed to close my eyes or lie down. It does not matter whether it is 12 a.m. or 3 a.m. or whether she has woken up for the zillionth time, the same procedure must be repeated. I am seriously thinking why haven’t a mechanical mommy arm been invented!!! I feel like one of the handmaidens of Mughal times who were supposed to fan their mistresses all night in the hot Indian summers. So here I am rewarding myself with some me time with a huge breakfast, a steaming mug of tea and my laptop. Of course my heart jumps whenever I hear a voice from the bedroom. and that is every few minutes because being a mommy means hearing an imaginary baby cry all the time. So not good for my poor heart, I tell you.
Anyway I was ruminating about this quote someone said about motherhood, about how the days are long but the years are short. So true. Sometimes I feel like it was just yesterday that I brought H from the hospital all bundled up in pink. I do not remember much about the first six months. It is a blur of marathon breastfeeding sensations, and never ending poopy diapers. I look at other people’s babies and I wish I could go back to little H’s infant hood and take a moment to just cuddle her and stare at her perfect little hands and feet. As is the tradition here, when all the extended family came to visit me after the baby, the aunties will look wistfully at the baby and say enjoy this time, it is not going to come back. And in my mind I would go like I know it is not going to come back but how am I supposed to enjoy with a baby who refuses to ever sleep, cries incessantly combined with a difficult post partum recovery.
Once little H turned around eight months, she developed extreme separation anxiety. No one was as good as mama and no place was better than mama’s lap. She wanted to be held all the time. I googled stuff, all the websites said separation anxiety will abate after a few months. I waited and waited but no as she grew older it just got worse. She just wanted and still wants her mama. And not just to be around me, but to be held by me. I grew increasingly frustrated as it was literally impossible for me to do any cooking, cleaning or other chores. I once even burned her while trying to cook while carrying her. Guilt made me miserable for days after that. But still stuff had to be done. I can now cook a three course mean while carrying her. Mommy superpower! I am sad that despite all the useless advice I got on H’s clinginess, nobody ever told me to buy a baby carrier and wear your baby! H has always been a very perceptive baby so the more frustrated I got with her, she would absorb my anxiety and cling to me even more. In retrospect I realize I was unconsciously pushing her away. If I could just have let her be and spent time with her, her clingy phase would probably have ended sooner.
After two years, I have realized the chores can wait, everything else can wait but my baby will only be two once. She would be this adorable and cute only once. So now I try to cuddle her longer in the mornings. When she beckons me to come play pretend games with her, instead of a hurried no I am busy now, I try to take two minutes to give her my full attention and do what she wants to. It is amazing how five minutes can make a difference to a child. They will be happy with just the five minutes you sit with them and will often go off to play by themselves after that. You do not have to sit and play for a half hour and let your chores wait. Life has become so fast and filled with never ending to do lists, social commitments and chores that it is very easy to consider your children as a distraction from all that you have to do. I have been guilty of that. But we need to remember children are our greatest priority and they will be young only once. So mamas, sit down, stop what you are doing, look in your child’s eyes, give them a hug and go start a pillow fight. Go create memories!