Before the baby
Anyone who tells you that life didn’t change much after parenthood is either a passive parent or an indifferent partner. Parenthood is like an OS upgrade. It brings a set of new functionalities. Most that you never even knew that your body can perform. But in addition to the new bells and whistles, it also brings with it a lot of malware, bloatware and bugs. And if the ‘beta’ testing has not been properly done, (which is to say, you were not quite ready for the plunge) it will require a series of patches before it becomes stable. Life continues, but it doesn’t resemble anything one would have experienced before.
My wife and I are high-school (well, maybe college) sweethearts who got married 4.5 years ago after 8 years of knowing each other. We started ‘life’ by dodging parallel connections and talking long hours on the landline. The conversations used to be a combination of sharing of life goals, exaggeration of our own traits, a good measure of silence and a whole lot of sweet-nothings.
We used to take long drives just to have tea or corn at a place ‘jahaan koi, aata jaata, nahin’.
We used to brave hail and rain, to catch a movie – any movie.
And then we were three
We became parents about 8 months back. Although my initiation into daddy-hood is still a work in progress, my wife took to motherhood like fish to water (or at least that is what she’d have me believe). She somehow knows exactly what the baby wants – when she’s hungry, when she’s sleepy, when she’s in a playful mood or just plain cranky. She even knows when the baby is pooing, just by looking at her and hearing a grunt that is seemingly inaudible to anyone else. I guess clairvoyance comes naturally to all mothers.
Related reading: Our marriage survived a kid
These days our phone conversations are a lot shorter and built around an agenda. “Did you eat?”, “How are you feeling?”, “Did the baby get any sleep?”, “Did you get any sleep?”, “Did the baby eat well?” and, pièce de résistance, “Usne potty kiya?”. I really wonder how poo became an integral part of our conversation and psyche; it has already featured this article twice! Dinner excursions are planned well in advance and executed like clockwork.
Plan of action
If we are taking the baby with us, the place has got to be neither too hot, nor too cold; well-lit but not too loud; have a sofa type seating or a high-chair; and a decent washroom (just in case a nappy change is imminent). And if we are not taking her with us, the place has got to be within 15-20 minutes distance of our home so that we can make a run for it, if required. And about movies… Well, with a life so filmy, who needs to go to the theatre, right? (Right.)
Related reading: Why do we deny fatherhood to men?
Parenthood also brings with it a set of weird, hypothetical and (almost always) rhetorical questions. “Are we doing a good job as parents?”, “Is she happy being with us?”, “We shouldn’t have left her home with grandparents and come out for dinner. What if she holds this against us?” Every once in a while, my wife asks me a loaded question: “If I cry and if the baby cries, who will you pacify first?” This leaves me in a dilemma of choosing between being either a careless father or a heartless husband. But I always choose her.
Because I know that as long as I’m taking care of her, she’ll take care of everything else.
Considering that I’m typing this article right now, I guess I’ve cracked the code.Published in