My story of birth & pregnancy will be common to many. The excitement, apprehensions, wishes, unreasonable fears…. and the immense joy when you set eyes on your baby for the first time in the birthing room. All these are expected but were such powerful emotions that they completely changed me as a person. As a young woman, daughter, friend, wife, in retrospect, I was a completely different person. But now, I cannot think of myself as anything other than a mom, for reasons more than the obvious. The journey has been extra-ordinary, yes, but that is not the reason am writing this post, this tribute to mother’s day.
One of the best things that I looked forward to, when I was pregnant, was going back to my mom’s house - to her care, undivided attention, affection, and pampering. Perhaps more than the D-day itself! As the youngest child, I always shared a special bond with her – What I’d like to call the unbroken umbilical cord connection (unbroken by another child!). I was always the kind who got mom-sick even if I stayed away for a single day from my mom. But the hormones of the young, and eventually falling in love, took care of my mom-sickness and before I knew it, we were separated by 350 kms - the only contact between us being the “once in two months visits” and the weekly calls. So understandably, I was really looking forward to being with my mom for four months during the last of my pregnancy and after.
My mom is your typical working lady who juggled a million things to take best care of her wards. She was the very humanly version of super-woman I think now, having come to that stage of life myself. But when I think of those four months she took care of me, I am forced to re-think. No super-woman can compare.
The sleepless nights, singing to a colic-stuck baby all evening long, washing the baby’s dirty laundry, taking care of my sis’s kids who had come for the holidays, cooking three different types of food (special one for me, one for the kids, one for others), taking care of the house in general, and going to work from nine to five - all at the same time. Tell me, which super-woman can do this?
I remember this particular day, which had been really difficult on all of us. The baby was refusing to feed, and my breast was becoming painfully heavy by the second. It was the third day after my delivery and I was scheduled to get discharged in the afternoon. My trouble-making hormones were at their best, and the mornings were especially tough for me. That morning might have been the worst - I was at my cranky best and my baby was too. My mom became really worried and started advising me on various ways I could cajole the baby to feed. But I just couldn't take her “nagging.” Inevitably, I picked up a fight with her. She was distraught, I was furious, the baby was crying non-stop. Naturally, our exchange of words reached such an extent that I lost all my control. I disowned her as my mother, in front of my husband, pop, and the hospital staff, with such harsh words that no daughter would have uttered to her mom.
My mom was terribly hurt. But being the fiery lady that she is, she couldn't take the public humiliation her favorite child dished out to her. So she in turn spoke some words to me which pretty much summed up to say “Go back to your dear mother-in-law’s house if you dislike me so much in the next available train.” Having delivered that checkmate, square and proper, she rushed out of the hospital room, leaving me dumbstruck and full of regret. But my ego prevented me from following her.
I tried to create a scene when the time came to leave for home. I ordered my husband to book a taxi to take me back to Bangalore right away. I cried to my father, pointing out the injustice meted to me by his wife. But my anger was fickle and my ego was no help – both of them deserted me quickly and I proceeded to the pre-arranged car (by my mom!) that would take me and the new-born home to my mom’s place.
As we reached my house, my heart started picking up speed. A mix of emotions assaulted me, prominent being fear. Fear on how my mom would greet me. Would she really be cruel enough to send me back to my in-law’s, I thought, without remembering my part in our mahabharath!
But the sight that greeted me as I reached the front door brought tears to my eyes. In fact, it still does when I remember. Mom was waiting, smiling, with the customary aarthi plate ready to welcome me and the baby to her home. The house looked freshly swept and mopped, the floor had beautiful rangoli on it, and she had decorated the house with diyas. A photo of baby Krishna hung over my bed, surrounded by pretty colorful lights. Something for the child to look at, she later told me. A new crib also stood beside my bed, decorated with fragrant jasmine, and her best silk saree. I almost broke down. I couldn’t have got a more royal welcome.
My mom never spoke about what happened earlier in the day at the hospital. She just forgave me my immaturity and embraced me in all her warmth that day and the days that came. But even after that, I never listened to her advices on being a good mom. I had learnt it just by watching her actions and didn’t need the “nagging” words.
We still have our occasional fights. But I am never afraid of going back with a sorry face. You see, I know my mom will always be there for me, waiting with open arms.
And to this day, I can’t think of my child’s early days without hearing the lullabies my mom sang to her. The images of my child as an infant, me as a young inexperienced mother and my doting mother fuses in my mind endlessly. Who was the mom, who was the daughter that needed care, and who was the helpless baby amongst the three of us, I still do not know. Certainly, I was not just the daughter who went to her mom’s for maternity care. Those four months, I was as much a helpless infant as my baby girl. My fifty-four year old mom must have experienced giving birth and the emotional turmoil after all over again alongside me!
PS: After having written this, I think of sharing this with my mom – perhaps reading the above passages to her aloud. As a way of asking sorry to her for my sordid behavior on that day. But I feel shy, terribly shy. I hope I can pick up my nerve to do it. After all, even super super women need to know they are appreciated and loved, right?