I almost thought I’d never come out of this entrapment called ‘Living with a Toddler’. I stopped counting past the 1000th day mark and took to counting the silver strands on my head instead – a phenomenon that occurs only after the second child has popped out. And after a long enough wait, the younger one finally graduates – from successfully jumping past the most physically engaging and mentally challenging (for me, of course) years of Kindergarten. I don’t believe my ears. Suddenly, it all comes back – the pregnancy, the all dependent, milk sucking, perpetually hungry infant, the dreadful diaper nights, the ever increasing dark circles; followed by her first day at school, the first friend, the first teacher and so many more maidens. And before I can make any further progress on my whining saga, in the blink of an eye, we find ourselves seated at the graduation ceremony of the youngest member of our Pride. And lo behold, I am not surprised at Nirupa Roy style maternal instincts showing up from the darkest corners of the closet in my heart; hiding behind one of the least displayed emojis – tears. At every milestone, the mother within goes ‘Awwww’ and ‘Myyyyyy’ and ‘My Little Ball of Fur!’
The very next minute, realisation sinks in and I feel a gush of wind. Just like the one they show in movies; right when the eyes meet and somebody falls in love. And I so want to follow the rhythm and groove to the beats of the finale song of the graduation programme. Oh yeah baby, I am finally a graduate – a Graduate Parent. And what’s my next title – the ‘All Primary Parent’ (since the husband is always secondary)? For the time being, all it means is a relief from being the Wonder Woman that is all equipped with a pair of ultra expensive sports shoes equipped with shock absorbers, meant to manage some 160 pounds of weight; get a firm grip on the ground whether in action or upon landing onto any kind of surface – even the moon; making sure the child in my arms feels minimum turbulence, is well cushioned and is found giggling and sober despite all shocks (at this rate, I’d need shoes manufactured by Volvo); a backpack that stocks water, Milo, juice, candies, wet wipes, tissues, sanitiser, mosquito repellent, extra clothes, crackers, bananas and a homemade snack, just in case. And yes, this Wonder Woman is military trained, ready to hike, jump, walk, run and dive to say the least. Because these beautiful bundles of joy, these little munchkins made of flesh and blood, these little tykes that would actually do better with whack on the butt, trick you with those adorable, drool-worthy looks when they simply smile and announce, “Momma, I love you!” after every emergency situation. The result – short term memory loss and Dopamine crashing your confused system with happiness; something beyond rhyme or reason.
And I wonder, why don’t husbands ever get the trick? They choose buddies and sports and some beer cans instead. We’ll leave them for another day. Surfacing above the sarcasm and extreme challenges of parenting, I am happy to have surpassed the Kindergarten milestone second time round; with more fun and adventure and surprises that have rendered the comical side of life overpowering the rise of a fat and grumpy old woman in the making. Managing 2 girls, 1 husband and multiple domestic helpers (that manage to get the better of me) has been quite an uphill climb to say the least. Each time I heave a sigh of relief, somebody sitting up there in the clouds, adds to fiasco and drama, making me lose my grip over life and adding a new perspective. The perils of motherhood can never outdo the perks of those wet, saliva filled kisses pecking my cheeks, the soft hugs and warm cuddles that brighten up my mornings and the immense energy and fresh ideas that still make we wonder, “Why do we ever grow up?”
Back at the graduation, all parents carry a surprise gift for their child; something of significance; a valuable gift to throw light on the many challenges that Primary 1 is about to throw at us – oops, the naive me missed reading that particular circular from school. Thanks to good friends around, I realise 20 minutes prior to the event (which by the way was chiselled and hammered to perfection by teachers), what an arguably lame, ignorant and incongruent parent I have been! The announcement paralyses my senses for a good 5 minutes when I imagine a sprint, a slide and a lunge to quick-pick a mindful gift from the closest shop that supposedly caters to innovative gifting ideas for those precious moments of life.
What I didn’t imagine however, was the absence of any ready cash I would need to buy refreshments with, to feed the tallest baby of the family. No prizes for guessing. I mean, I order a milkshake in a put-up accent appearing all stylish, trying to stand tall with aching heels from running pillar to post (I must confess this newly found respect for actresses that gallop a lifetime in those heels touting romantic looks) and still flaunting a friendly smile only to hear – “payment by cash only”. I gulp the saliva and ask the woman at the counter to hold onto my drink for 5 minutes, while I jog another 50 metres to receive some quick Gyan (knowledge) from you know who; run back in, pick the thick shake and be greeted with Nobel Prize winning expressions from the woman who would have written that drink off as ‘Bad Debts’ until a minute ago; then storm back to land into the car seat with a thud and a bang. I almost feel the car tilt onto the left. The man behind the wheel, also the man in my life, who has been exercising his eyeballs, rolling them insanely at my careless acts, doesn’t miss yet another opportunity to flaunt his calm and patient self. He drives with ‘Mute Mode On’.
Well, at the end of it all, we make it in time for the show. Some parents give me inexorable looks from the corner of their eyes and glance at their watches. I choose ignorance to be my best buddy. Every other parent is well prepared, holding the most beautiful roses or fresh lilies and an enormous looking presents, wrapped magnificently, evoking awe and surprise. I, on the other hand, have picked up a lock diary with a rainbow on top. I have no fancy cover. The gift is buck naked, inviting ridicule. I know so, when my eyes meet those of the Principal’s. My gift is no surprise and nothing more than a Smiggle. But to my daughter, this diary is more precious than a diamond from Tiffany’s.
When we see her after the event, she is bustling with excitement about being a Kindergarten Graduate. She falls in love with the diary – at first sight. I fill the first page, “To the little girl with big brown eyes and ideas the colour of rainbow! Way to go my dear graduate. This book is to get you started on telling stories your way. We will always love you and be with you. Loads of love, Mumma and Baba!”
She loves it. And the next morning, she writes, “I Graduation on Thursday”. The rest is history. We now have a very excited little kitten who loves to read and write at every opportunity that comes her way. The energy is contagious. And to every mother out there, who isn’t perfect in many ways, just like me, don’t be too hard on yourself. Our children never use a yardstick to measure our love. To them, Mom means the world. And every gift, especially in the form of kisses and cuddles, takes them one step ahead of the rest of the world in this journey called life.