HUSBAND – Helpful Understanding Simple Brave Amazing Nice Decent
FATHER – Faithful Available Teacher Helps Encourages Reliable
If I had to describe my better half in his role as a husband and father, the above description would be the perfect one.
The way I saw my husband the day before I became a mother and the days following the birth of our elder son were strikingly different. What a difference a single day makes sometimes. Before our baby was born, my husband was my better half, my confidante and the person I chose to sleep next to at night for the rest of my life. After the arrival of our first bundle of joy, my husband was still all those things but he was now more importantly my partner in probably the most important job we will ever have; the job of being a parent.
The days that followed the birth of our baby were filled with sleep-deprivation, panic and fear. The joy and contentment I had felt were suddenly overshadowed by a fear of the unknown; a fear of not being able to take care of a tiny human being who was depending on me 100% to survive. But the minute I thought the word ‘me’ inside my head, I realised that I was being selfish. Just because I physically gave birth to the baby did not mean that there was no one else as involved or as important; a small but significant detail that many new moms tend to overlook. I realised that my husband and the father of my baby was as much a part of the baby’s life as I was.
I saw motherhood at its finest the first few weeks – dark circles under my eyes resulting from sporadic sleep at night, one bath a day, hair being washed on average once a week, non-existent make-up and accessories, and so on. The word normal was erased from my vocabulary for a few weeks and it took a lot out of me to get myself together. But I did it. I had an incredible support system and I could not have survived my first few weeks as a new mom without my own mother. She was up every night with me changing diapers and making sure I didn’t fall asleep while nursing. However my rock and the reason for my sanity being remotely intact during the first month was my husband and baby daddy.
A father’s role in the parenting process is often overlooked and sometimes devalued. The mother has always been known as the primary caretaker but in today’s ‘new age’ parenting, the father is as pivotal as the mother. I don’t mean a father’s influence because in the infant and newborn stage, that does not play as big a part in the baby’s development as it does later on. However I am referring to the added responsibilities a father takes on. Gone are the days when only the mother is expected to change diapers and feed the baby. We see more stay-at-home fathers now compared to even a decade ago. They are not only there to shoulder more responsibilities, but also to provide emotional support. I remember a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time by husband had to go to work in the morning leaving me to my duties as a mother. For me, it was not so much the added responsibilities that he took on which made me want to hang on to him, but more the emotional support and mental stability he provided me with. He forced me to paste a smile on my face which at the time seemed to prove most challenging. He proved to be a rock then and even more when our younger son was born in March this year. Now with our younger son having just completed the first 3 months which are more often than not the hardest, I realised that I felt more human this time around due to my husband having taken over most of the responsibilities with our elder son.
Post birth, the process of reconciling your old self with the new is an endless one and sometimes never complete. But it becomes easier with each passing day if you can include the people around you in your journey and not feel the pressure to do everything on your own. That is where my husband played the biggest role – in letting me know that I did not need to have sole custody of the parenting responsibilities. The bravest of mothers who think they can do it all still need help sometimes.
Sometimes you have to just let someone hold your hand.
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” – Billy Graham
Popular theory is that our children are reflections of us. We are their mirrors in which they look and see themselves, at the same time also mirroring our behaviours and actions. There is a famous quote by David Bly that says “Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be”. Everyone has their own perspective of this. Do I agree with this? Before I became a mother I may have said yes. Now two children later, I don’t believe I agree.
We all come with emotional baggage from various aspects of our lives and mostly, from our relationships. From the time we are children ourselves till we become adults, we experience various ups and downs. Whether it is a broken heart or the death of a loved one, there is always an imprint that is left on us which helps mould the kind of people we become. No one survives life by just floating through on a silver cloud. Everyone has their own challenges to face and hurdles to cross; some more rocky than others. How each person handles those challenges and hurdles is also very different. Some approach the negative situations in their lives with anger, clouded minds and unclear plans, whereas some approach them with reason and clarity. A person’s emotional and mental state is challenged when a negative situation occurs. But what we learn from and how we come out of those situations are what our children will eventually learn and will reflect on them. The impact from our past experiences is what will help us parent our children today.
I have always believed that our pasts should not affect our children’s future. Should we think twice and make conscious well thought out decisions about which elements from our experiences should be passed onto our children? Yes, that goes without saying! We all love our parents. Many times I have opened my mouth to say something and my parents’ words come out. It shows that they have shaped me and my approach to how I parent today. However everyone has things they have experienced in their own past that they would rather not re-create with their own children. It would be denying reality to say that a person’s childhood was all smooth sailing. The relationship between mother and child is the most pure and at the same time the most volatile relationship. You don’t agree on everything and every child has a moment where he/she believes that he/she has the best and worst mother. I know I did. There are always countless elements of my relationship with my mother that I would love to pass onto my own children and which will help shape their future in a positive way but there are also some which I would like to keep at bay. In other words, while everyone has aspects of their parents that they hope to re-create, there are certain things they also hope to avoid. I think every mother out there can resonate with this. This could be because we want very different things for our children compared to what our parents wanted for us.
My children are their own people. There are many things in my past which I know I could have handled better. I don’t regret making the mistakes I have made because I have learned from them. However the lessons learned are what I would like to pass onto my children and definitely not the uncertainty I have faced and mistakes made. They will have their own mistakes to make and lessons to learn. I lost someone very close to me when I was young and still in school. The impact on me at that point was of epic proportions and I promised myself that I would avoid any form of attachment going forward. Making a decision like this and especially when still so young was not something to take lightly and this did have an effect on many of my relationships for the next few years. Till today, there is still a part of me which raises alarm bells when I see myself becoming attached to anyone or anything. But this is not an element of my personality that I would like my children to imbibe. Forming attachments is healthy and essential for both emotional and social development. It helps you grow. I do not want my children to prevent themselves from giving and receiving the love, happiness and closeness they can experience from various relationships in their lives, and definitely not because of any negative experiences from my own past.
As mothers we only want what is best for our children and nothing less. A mother’s natural instinct is to shape her children to be exactly like her; its only human. I have seen this personally. However do their lives need to be turn out exactly like their parents? Do their experiences have to be the same and their futures determined by our likes and dislikes? These are the important questions which we as mothers need to think about and which will help determine the kind of people our children will turn out to be.
One thing that I always pat myself on the back about is my ability to still go out, have fun and party like its 2012. I think my friends all know that as long as I have a glass of rose champagne in my hand, I am good to go. I remember that there was a time when some of my friends and I after a gruelling day at work, used to go out every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night! Those were good times and we somehow never seemed to get tired. Waking up at 6 am the following day to kick-start the day and get ready for work didn’t seem like much of a task. We behaved like robots. This was all before my first little bundle of joy came along.
Now after a night out, my friends who are mothers as well and I wake up in the morning grumbling about how one night out has destroyed us completely and all we want to do is spend the entire day in bed. Ok maybe age has something to do with it as well J but a large part of is that we now have little human beings running around depending on us for their own day to start. At this point I know that I sometimes stare at my children with absolute wonder trying to figure out how my life before them had flown by so quickly. I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that many mothers struggle with their new identity once they have children. For me, it definitely has not been a struggle, but I do sometimes reminisce about the freedom that comes with life before children. You are able to wake up in the morning with the entire day ahead of you but with the ability to change the way you want to spend your day. My friends and I often discuss what changes we have experienced in life pre and post children. The changes post children are not all undesirable of course. Here is what I have come up with.
Among all the crazy days, hectic schedules, lack of sleep and minimal amount of alone time with my husband, there is not a thing I would change about my life. I can hardly remember what my life was like before we had our children and I cannot imagine what it would be like without them now. I always like to say that my children make me see things clearly; things that they see with perfect clarity. They are my eyes and window to the world. I am a better person today because of them.
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'