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Babies do not come with instruction manuals. The single most responsible job of shaping another human being is trial and error learning. There are days of exhilaration and there are days of guilt. All in all it is an emotional roller coaster journey. We young mothers constantly try to find that balance point between too less and too much. Am I feeding enough? Have I put enough clothes on her? Should I teach her one chapter ahead of the class or is it OK not to fuss over homework? If I ask her to run errands, is it because she should learn or am I just lazy?
I have been through this emotional turmoil at each and every stage of parenting. My first pregnancy was a difficult period. Fearing it would all repeat, I was reluctant to have another child. Have even evaluated if I would ever love my second child as much as my first.
In the beginning years of our marriage, my husband was in a buoyant phase of his career. He got promotions in quick succession and it meant our family of three, changed stations often. My daughter Oshi lost friends almost every year and had to adjust to new schools too. Her only constant were here parents in ever changing homes, cities and schools. When she turned four, friends and relatives began to inquire what plans we had? They enumerated benefits of having siblings or how single kids became pampered and spoilt. According to them I was selfish to deprive my kid from knowing the company of siblings.
Fortune smiled and a posting in the south lasted three years. The stability in life made us think we could finally think of parenting a pair. I conceived.
We broke the news to Oshi early, in order to prepare her for the new baby. Her father sat every evening with her to explain that a baby meant a lot of responsibility. How she was born in a joint family and had five adults to look after her. How she alone could drive all of them nuts some days.
Her father also explained that since he had to leave for office everyday, I was by myself and would have to do the job of those five people alone when the baby arrives. I might not be able to care for her, as much I did earlier.
Every time Oshi heard the stories intently. She began to change, she littered less and organised more. It made me feel guilty of robbing her of her childhood at times. She however loved to hear stories how she troubled us as a baby. Often giggled when I told her little details.
One day she pestered me again. Out of the blue I told her how my throat went dry whenever she suckled and I felt shy to ask anyone for water. At times I asked the helper or her father to fetch it but never her grandmother.
"How long did I take to fill my tummy?" She asked.
"About twenty minute." I replied.
"And you sat there thirsty?"
"I had to."
She was pensive and I got back to work. Months passed and soon our second daughter was born. The initial months went in a jiffy and soon we were back to our home.
One day I was feeding the baby and felt that all familiar drying up sensation in my throat.
Oh no! I forgot to carry my glass of water again. I thought.
There was a knock on the door and I asked who was there.
"Mummy it's me Oshi."
I asked her to come in. My little angel had a cool bottle in her hands.
"I thought you might be thirsty. When I was a baby you had to stay thirsty but now you don't have to."
It was a teary moment for me. I have preserved it in my memory forever. Hugging her with one arm, I drank the water.
Even if there were instruction manuals with babies, I think we would have never believed them. We do not know even a minuscule of the enigma human nature is. With each moment, a new facet is revealed. We discover an unseen side of our fast growing child. We also discover one more tender spot in our heart, that we never knew existed.