Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
The birth of a child is not a singular exclusive event. It has a cascading effect on the entire family. All relatioships in the household get tested for their strength and loyalty. Husband-wife change to parents; parents become grandparents; brothers and brother in laws become uncles; sisters and sister in laws become aunts. No relationship stays untouched. The arrival of the baby changes everyone and everything – mostly for the better.
The relationship that undergoes a sea change is most definitely that of the new parents. The two people who meant the world to each other, now have a third member in the relationship. They might have been each other's topmost priority at one time, but now they have another person occupying the top slot in their priority list. As if having to handle a tiny human being wasn't enough pressure, there is an additional subconscious pressure to be the best parents on the planet. This aspiration puts a lot of undue strain on the already fragile husband-wife relationship.
As far as taking care of the baby is concerned, it is assumed to be primarily the mother's responsibility. The grandparents (maternal as well as paternal) and everyone else under the sun chooses to bombard the already frazzled mother with heaps of advice.
The society at large assigns a very miniscule secondary role to the father. No one expects him to be of any use in bringing up the child. And any new mother who dares to seek help or assistance from the father/husband is quickly tagged inefficient. So, it is human tendency to reduce the role of the father to that of a slightly significant sidekick, whereas the mother is expected to lead in this new series of life.
So, in a way, the father is pre-conditioned to look at parenting from an angle different to that of the mother. This puts a lot of pressure on the new mother, who quickly becomes physically and emotionally overwhelmed at these developments.
But thankfully, there are fathers who jump over to the other side of the fence and want to be completely involved in the process of parenting.
My husband was always a caring and loving husband. So, when our little one was born, it was not surprising for me to see him transform from being an incredible husband to a doting father. We were lucky to have my mother by our side at all times, so he didn't have to worry too much about staying up at nights and look after the baby per se. I am confident that had he faced that situation, he would have done marvellously well. There were certain days when mom couldn't be with us. On those days, my husband would wear the hats of a chef, a caretaker, a soother, a doctor, and sometimes even a mother. He would act as if he had two children to take care of, and he did that extremely efficiently. When I look at our baby now, I realise that she loves all of us equally (parents as well as maternal grandparents). This is proof enough that she realises that all of us have the same love for her. No one is primary, none is secondary.
There are so many dads out there, who take pride in being expert diaper changers (an adorable school friend proudly calls himself "Diaperman"!). Such dads are so precious, the babies and the moms feel so loved because of them. The world needs more of such fathers.
As a mother, it is not always possible to ignore one's needs and dedicate oneself selflessly to bringing up another human being (unless you want to be considered for sainthood!). And any mother who thinks she can/should do this is preparing to spiral into severe depression. Once you become a mother, keep the following in mind:
Your personal life is not over. (It may seem like it is, but there is still hope!)
You have every right to think about yourself every once in a while. Get hold of a trusted family member who would be willing to look after the baby and go out for a quick dinner/shopping/movie with your spouse.
Even when at home, stay together as much as possible. It is very frustating for a mom to keep calling out for the dad every time she needs help with the baby.
Your body has gone through (and will continue to go through) a lot of stress (taking care of a baby is hard work!). Keep yourself healthy and active. Eat well and look after yourself as best as possible (Easier said than done, eh?)
Love yourself. You may not like the way your body looks right now. This will lead to a lot of insecurities. Face your fears! And every time you doubt your beauty, look at your little cutie and know that she/he has gotten a fair share of that cuteness from you.
Children will eventually grow up and start leading their own lives. Their toddler phase will not last forever. Don't lose yourself in the melee and let life slip past you.
If you are a working mom, go out for lunches with your colleagues. Have some fun once in a while. You deserve it!
Shop for cute clothes for yourself and the baby. That's a fun task right there! (I can spend hours browsing through baby clothes online. There are so many options available these days. I still shudder thinking about the horrendous oversized clothes my mom made me wear as a child. That reminds me – Must find and burn all pictures to destroy evidence of such past atrocities.)
Try to enjoy your baby with an open heart and an open mind. Don't let the expectations of society take away your life from you. Do not venture out to do everything yourself. Do as much as you can, as well as you can, and whenever in trouble – ask for help! You will find ever so many hands willing to pull you up.