Pretty child…

Walking away from a sleeping Β child is the hardest thing to do.

I’ve fed them lunch, read them their stories, patted them to sleep and darkened the room. And as I pick my diary, my handbag, slip my mobile into my pocket and look in the mirror, the Mama disappears and the journalist appears.

Except that a part of the image stays fuzzy and vague. The outline blurs. I blink away tears. I do this often enough but that doesn’t make it easier. There’s something about lacy lashes fanning out on chubby cheeks that makes me go weak at the knees. Little bodies tucked between the pillows, stuffed toys piled around them. A fortress against the real world.

They’re small, weak, defenceless and asleep; left behind at their most vulnerable. I’ve told them I won’t be there when they wake up but it doesn’t help. I delay. I write a few lines in a quick email. I straighten the sheets. I rearrange the pens on my table. And then I know I can’t delay anymore. I must leave. Once I get into the car and drive away. Once I meet the adult world and start the business talk I will be fine. I know I will.

I shut the door behind me quietly, and leave Coke Studio (My God, Pepsi, how are you EVER going to top this?!!) playing for them to wake up to. And I tell myself for the nth time that I’m going to stop doing this. Soon. Someday. When?

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52 thoughts on “Pretty child…

  1. Your writing is always so evocative… amazing given that I don’t have any kids, I can still feel something just by reading this.
    Thanks for sharing a slice of yourself with us consistently.

  2. When it feels right, you wont have to agonise, the decision will get made and you wont veer look back and question it. If that moment hasnt come yet, theres good reason, so maybe you should just wait patiently πŸ™‚

  3. “And I tell myself for the nth time that I’m going to stop doing this. Soon. Someday. When?”

    I guess now would be a good time? πŸ™‚

    I have been tormenting myself with the same question for the past year. One half of me doesn’t want to let go of my professional persona. The other doesn’t want to leave home before the kids do and wants to be home before they are back. What I realized this week is that there is no time like now. It has not been easy. Self doubts plague me but in some weird way I feel peace.

    PS: For me the dilemma was between full time and part time. But I agonized about it way too long than I should have.

  4. Heartbreaking !!!
    SOmeday i will take a decision but fear they may not need me as much as they do now !!!

  5. As long as there’s Coke Studio playing for them when they wake up, they should be alright. πŸ™‚

    p.s. I discovered Coke Studio almost a year back, and BOY! aren’t they brilliant? Have you checked out the acts featuring Zeb and Haniya (Chal Diye and Paimona comes to mind), Noorie (Saari raat and Kedaar), and of course, my current favourite Nindiya? Oh, and also, you HAVE to check out ‘Kangana’ from the fourth season. It’ll take your breath away! The Indian version doesn’t come close, according to me. But then, the cute Pakistani guitarists might just be making me partial. πŸ˜‰

  6. Are father’s allowed to think about doing this?
    This morning my son (enjoying a school founder’s day holiday) wanted me to stay back. I was out travelling most of this week. Later during lunch, when I picked up daughter from school and dropped her back – she wanted me to take rest of the day off! However, I had to get back to work.
    Read somewhere that John Lennon took a break and stayed back with his son for 5 years (before he was shot dead.)

  7. The weirdest thing just happened, I read your post and hopped over to Coke studio and the moment it started playing I thought of reducing the volume as the kids are sleeping, seriously and I got chills when I realised how nuts I am getting πŸ™‚

  8. I agree…sleeping babies have something so calm , beautiful, innocent and peaceful about them. Actually anyone sleeping has thatf ace…but with babies, their softness makes one’s heart skip a beat.

    I used to love lacing my fingers around my sis’s son’s face, and hands n tiny fingers and feet and baby toes! Oh man! the purity used to take my breath away. But when ma caught me at that, she would always reprimand me and ask me to let him sleep in peace! πŸ™‚

  9. I don’t know MM. Sometimes I wonder..coming all the way to an unknown country, just to better my career, is it really worth it? I guess once in every five days, in one or the other chat box, I happen to write “I want babies :(“. So when I finally have them, leaving them alone at home, or with help, however competent they may be….is unthinkable. So what do I tell the world I am doing? Tossing my hard earned pay cheque out of the window to hear baby laughter? Seems so worth it to me….but will i have the courage? I really don’t know…

    What will my kids need? Me being around or me being able to provide for a better life?

    • So glad to know I am not the only mad woman out there who keeps her want to have babies (and FAST) very apparent.
      No man to make the babies with, in sight and yet, I dream everyday of having my multiple babies. πŸ˜€

    • You will make your choice when your time comes. I don’t think you’ve gone to another country just to better your career. You’ve also gone there to grow as a person. Every experience shapes you as a person and if you choose to be a parent, shapes your parenting too.

      Pay cheques are hard earned and so are babies. Ask parents of adult kids what they’ve been through. And also couples queueing up for IVF or adoption. Every child is precious and more hard earned than a pay cheque. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It is just a choice you will have to make.

      And what is a better life? How does one define it? Money doesnt always make a better life as 100s of disturbed kids will show you. neither will staying home. It’s not just about what your kids need. It’s about what you need too. I know I need my babies around me if I want to retain my sanity. Others need to get out of the house to retain theirs. You will see which one of those categories you fell into, someday I guess πŸ™‚ Until then travel, enjoy, and share all the fun with us.

  10. you need both sides of you – anything less than that would make you less than what you are. :)) huggzzzz. and yes – the kids will love you either way.

  11. Awwww, I cannot imagine how any mommy does that…really, I dont get it. Are they stronger than me, like wayyyyy stronger.? I dont go out to work so I dont identify with the pain, but they must feel it no? I mean mommies who must work, step out for one reason or the other? I am now going to sit and cry and think of all the babies who dont get to see mamma when they wake up from naps…im as usual being a drama queen…sigh…

  12. Hello from across the border, MM (the unfriendly one;). I’ve been a long, long time reader of your blog but have only commented once or twice. I don’t have anything much to say except that I love your writing. As in I totally heart it – big, red, pulsating heart it. You write from the bottom of your guts and that is truly admirable. Write on!

    Ash

    PS Have you caught any of the episodes of this season’s Coke Studio? Didn’t know you were a fan!

    • On the other hand, if you sing baby to sleep , when he grows up , he will sing you to sleep . Of course, you may end up regretting not having learnt ” Chanda hai tu , mera sooraj hai tu” lyrics properly and put up with “mera aloo hai tu , mera bhalu hai tu “.

      • you sing that? *groan* why am I NOT surprised? You know, I feel like banning you from commenting until you start blogging again. but then I realise this is the last place I have a hold on you. dont want to lose this too.

    • How does the unfriendliness of the border matter? Some of my best bloggy friends are from the other side and I can’t think of that side as unfriendly anymore. Thank you so much. and I have every episode of CS on my iPod. am a HUGE fan

  13. I always get a little wrench when i put my sleeping baby down. Sometimes my husband has to nudge me and say: “ok put him down now” (we actually don’t want him to get into the habit of being carried to fall asleep). But I revel in that wrench, that bittersweet feeling. It’s just part of life. I don’t feel the need to get over it.

  14. You have explained possibly every day of mine. I thought it would get better, but you are right, it just remains the same…. I just went back to work after a break. The good thing is I am vacation all week with my little one – so no feeling this for at least one week! Yeah….
    Have a good day MM.

  15. Speaking from experience I don’t think that’s going to be anytime soon.They’re 12 & 10 & I still loathe leaving them & going offto work every day:)

    • Really??? Oh dear! I thought once they are older and more independent, it will get better….somewhere on the fringes of my mind I was thinking maybe I could get back to my teaching….your comment is making me think even more now! 😦

  16. Mostly, I fall asleep before they do πŸ˜€ I did this for an year after my son was born and then stopped it. I finally realized that having some time away from the kids in the adult world actually makes me a better (read patient) mom.

  17. No, I dont have that lump in my throat, the wrenching feeling.

    1. My in-laws live with us – which also means, I don’t get to raise the kids only my way. I’m sure, you know how many things both sets have to be accomodative about. They are basically sweet people, so ‘kala tikka’ πŸ˜›
    2. We have a nanny. She’s not one of the great ones, but reasonable enough.
    3. My son sticks to me like he was born with fevicol applied on him (no, really!)…and any opportunity I get to run out of the house, I exercise it….it just keeps me sane. Imagine I go to the loo with him every day at least once…the other times, I am just thankful the nanny is around. He plays in a small bucket of water when I am at my job.
    4. We have home, car loans to take care of. Not that the husband can’t manage, we just are able to breathe better because I am at work too
    5. Recently my sil and I were talking about how demanding the kids have gotten. and everything is quid-pro-quo – the kids nearing 10 and above don’t really seem to know/ care for what we are doing for them and the choices we’ve made. They might recognise that only they become parents themselves and we might not even live to see that day.
    6. We are earning so we can spend on our living now, kids’ education and our retirement. I’d like to think, I’m only making myself independent and helping us stay that way for a long time. I love my kids like no other, but I dont think I can afford going after my heart at this stage in life.
    7. To answer, if you could actually let go and stay at home, would you – no. Things are not going to remain like this forever. Only if my situation changes in a way I just can’t be at work, I’ll not go. I am not a high-flyer. I am only an also-ran in office….happy at where my career is going…..s.l.o.w.l.y. But can’t think of stopping even this slow rise.

    Long comment….I think I should start resuming writing posts πŸ˜›

    • ROFL! my kids are the least sticky kids I know. They don’t bother me at all and I was surprised at a birthday party last week when this single woman walked up to the OA and I and complimented us saying she had never seen two more independent, well behaved kids. Made me go all teary eyed. It’s funny how a compliment to your child goes straight to your own head! So no, they don’t stick to me although they insist on holding conversations through the bathroom door until I go deaf and ignore them.

      Yes we have car loans etc but that is not what I am talking about at all. Leaving a sleeping child, regardless of whether you are going to work or to the gym, is a little twinge inducing to me. Heck, leaving a sleeping father of those children makes me go all mushy too!

      • Ok…when I saw your last line…the ‘Someday. When?’, I associated it with the working and non-working dilemma.

        I’m reminded of the Friends episode where the triplet are asleep and are angelic πŸ˜› I can so imagine myself saying that about my kids too πŸ˜€

  18. I am guessing it just gets a little easier because typically, your child/children are the ones to bid you goodbye as she/he/they leave for school instead of the other way round!
    I remember the first day I started working post-baby (after a hiatus of slightly less than 2 years). My daughter was 18 months old then and was taking her mid-morning nap. I sneaked out of my house like a thief (lest she wakes up), and with a sickening lump in the throat. At work, I was introduced to a colleague who had happily pasted pictures of her 20-month-old daughter on her cubicle. Clearly, she was a lot settled about the issue than I was, because she was back to work after utilising her maternity leave. “How old is your baby?”, she asked me warmly. And I had to actually excuse myself, run to the restroom, howl my guts out for a good ten minutes, freshen up and come back to my colleague’s desk. “Aah, you were asking about my daughter’s age. She is exactly 18 months!” I told her.
    It does get better with time. But one never gets the better of the situation wholly, ever…

      • Mine hates sleeping at all during the day nowadays… so no bhaat ghoom for her, just the biggie at night! maybe, that’s made it just a bit easier, I don’t have to see off a sleeping, vulnerable lil one.
        Jokes apart, it always hurts dreadfully and you have to forcefully switch on to the ‘working woman’ role, which too comes naturally after so many years of working.
        Heck, it’s a tad better in that I won’t burst into tears if you ask me something about her now.
        Weekends are special because you can lie next to the lacy lashes, fanning the chubby cheeks and observe them all you want!
        On that note, I better get back to work! πŸ™‚

  19. This post reminds me of the “sleeping child” song .. After my wedding, the husband was not working for a couple of months.. and my heart clenched everytime I left him to go to office πŸ˜€ ..

    • πŸ™‚ Same here. The OA started working 2 months after I, post wedding. It would break my heart to leave him sleeping too! Sleepers just look so innocent and lovable.

  20. I know what you mean. Except for me, its with my parents especially after big Sunday lunches, when I sit on their bed and chat with them until they doze off. Busy working weeks do that to us. It’s a wrench to get up. And if I’m so sappy over sleeping parents, can you imagine how bad I’d be with a baby!

  21. Ahhh. a sleeping baby! It’s funny how when they are awake and over-stimulated, all you want is for them to sleep. And the minute they go to sleep, you feel this gut-wrenching-when-is-he-going-to wake up thing. I just chickened out of a full-time, big-ticket job after going all the way and nearly signing on the dotted line. It was embarrassing, and I felt weak, but in a good way. It’s been two years post baby and I am not ready. I don’t know when I’ll ever be. I had told myself two years hands-on mommydom is good enough, then it can be nanny-daycare, etc, but I realise I keep raising the bar. You are right, it’s not about the money or the EMI, it’s what you want ultimately. And I have just become greedier about baby time. Friends tell me ‘If you don’t get back now, you never will”. May be I won’t. But I would have stared long and hard at a sleeping child. Over and over and over again.

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