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A year ago I was sitting with a very close friend of mine (Mitali) and discussing some personal details about her married life and the concerns. While discussing the information she shared her experience on how she came to know about the ‘’big phase’’ she had experienced once. Curious at the thought of the phrase ‘’big phase’’ I asked her about the adequate details and an explanation what she meant by it. Seeing my curiosity and someone giving an ear to her in time of distress she started to explain.
She began by saying “it all came to me as a surprise, infact I am not sure whether it was a surprise or a shock, rather a shocking surprise I suppose.” I asked “what is a shocking surprise for you?” so she went further explaining her thoughts and feelings around the “surprising shock”, “basically it started with me and my husband sharing thoughts around taking our marriage to the next level, that is of planning for a family. Few days later I experienced a delay in my cycle and the first thought which came to me was “oh shit” not now! I didn’t want it that point of time. Or may be I wanted to have a child but I wasn’t prepared for it so soon.”
There was a sense of sadness and disappointment in her statement while narrating. Yet, what further she said somewhere overwhelmed me, with a prior notion of all sorrowful feelings I was going under the impression that may be she made a ‘mistake’. The truth however was slightly different, which I came to know a little later in the conversation. Her sadness and distress disappear when she continued explaining her circumstances, she said “Yes I wasn’t prepared for it to happen this soon enough, but the feeling wasn’t so bad enough, my world was going to change in all respects; I was more concerned about my marriage after this. What will happen to us after a baby comes in? Surprisingly he was better at handling this situation than me. Rather I shall say I accepted because my husband showed confidence in a happier life from now onward.” I was wondering how supportive her husband is, each woman should have a person like him. It was giving a feeling of a canvas with a beautiful landscape.
It was a rosy picture of an ideal couple’s life, I was beginning to convey the same to her with deep sense of joy and excitement; before I could say anything, she uttered, “you must be thinking how perfect life I was having and still am so stressed right?” well, obviously yeah I am thinking so! Instead I said “of course not, every couple has there ups and downs and you too are going through a comparatively low phase so its fine I believe.” She continued from where she left, “Well, I was honest to you when I said the good things, but that was half information. Yes, there is no doubt he had been supportive, but we didn’t know how to manage things, and I think we had been too busy in “earning” that we thought we could seek guidance. We were thinking we know it all.”
We read the internet and got tips, what we could not understand was how to implement those tips. We divided our work with respect to child care. But we forgot to have a mutual understanding. We knew we need more money now, even though we are earning in lakhs a month yet it wasn’t enough. Somewhere, we were not ready to compromise on our own needs still.” While describing her memories, she appeared lost and at the same time relieved, there was calmness begin to settle in her. Suddenly she started smiling and with laughter said, “You know our parents were after our life when they got the news, they were so happy, and ready to take all the responsibility; I too wanted someone to help, but I wasn’t ready to share it other than my husband. On the other hand, he was cool about the idea of having them over to help in the early process. I believe our thoughts didn’t match the idea of having them around sounded more like a load than help. When I shared my feelings with S he understood initially and somewhere agreed that we will have to alter our lifestyle if it happens. So we decided to drop the idea and continue the way we have been till now.”
“I regret our decision; it not only created a void in our relationship with them but it also sparked further problems with them and in our life too. I told you money was becoming an issue but so was the career. The child was here and so were we, good thing child was growing and we as parents, but as individuals we felt stuck. Everything that happened was around the child. Any activity personal or social was centered on the child. It was becoming a chaos in our head leading to regular arguments and fights. We were becoming clueless every day, not understanding how to help whom to go etc. the information on anything we had was part true and valid and part useless and baseless still we practiced in hope things will get better. The only thing we didn’t practice was take things as it is, to calm down and consider child as our own extension.”
With her last few words “take child as an extension” it felt that parenting can become much simpler if we all think like this from the start, than exhausting our self over it. Mere acceptance of baby as a part of me made things so simplified and crystal clear; whereas, before it appeared more like a burden, a task, an agenda, a daily to do list, at this point it becomes important and alarming to seek ‘help’ before the burnout happens or the situation takes another form and level creating a disharmony in several aspects of life.