Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday Blues

Now I have another reason to hate Mondays. Weekends get so intense (and also so much fun) now with so much time spent with Ayaan that it’s really hard to leave him on Monday morning to come to work.

Today, for the first time, he was really upset to see me go and cried a lot. At moments like these, my decision to come back to work really wavers a lot. But that’s all I can do – waver. Because being a stay at home mom is just not an option for me. There are many reasons:

  1. We just bought a house
    And there is no way we can pay back the loan on just one salary
  2. Others’ Expectations
    I am worried about all the people who will be disappointed in me if I just working. My mom (who managed to do it all), my husband (who didn't ask to be saddled with a non-working wife), my friends (most of whom work)...
  3. My Own Fears
    Will I become boring? Will my brain stagnate? Will I get terribly bored? Will I make Ayaan spoiled and dependent? Will it be really hard to find a good job once Ayaan grows up a little?

As I said earlier, quitting my job is not an option. So all I can do is carry on hating Mondays….

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Forbidden Fruit

Ayaan seems to have a real affinity for all things unhygienic and dangerous. You may ask how he knows these things fall into either or both of those of categories. The answer is pretty simple really. These are things that cause the word ‘No’ to come out of Mama’s mouth. And in Ayaan’s limited vocabulary the word ‘No’ translates to ‘must do more of’. And since Mama never says no when he touches any of his toys, scores of expensive toys lie ignore and untouched most of the time. Instead, it’s much more fun to play with some of these:

  1. Shoes and slippers
    Heaven forbid that any footwear is left casually lying around the house. The moment Ayaan spies these delightful objects, he lets out a great squeal and makes a beeline for them. It must be something to do with the exotic smells and flavours that emanate from them.
  2. Dustbins
    All dustbins are approached numerous times every day. And if not caught in time, Ayaan proceeds to empty them out and examine all the wonderful contents, trying to decide which is the best candidate to put into his mouth.
  3. Alarm clock
    This has been one of his enduring passions. He has loved the alarm clock for over 4 months now. Preferred mode of playing with this marvel of technology is to bang it on the floor…hard!
  4. The light switch
    We have (or I should say had) a light switch hanging over our bed. Ayaan showed such a great desire to maul the poor object that we had to stick it up much higher on the wall – where it is not only out of his reach but ours as well!
  5. Drawers
    This game involves pulling out drawers and emptying their contents. Not really dangerous when you think about it but pretty irritating for the person who has to put everything back…

Monday, January 23, 2006

Crawling Frenzy

Ayaan is completely consumed with moving and standing. It’s as if he has to keep practising or he fears the ability might desert him. It is now a real task to get him to do anything that requires him to stay in one place for more than 30 seconds.

Nappy change times have become an exercise in frustration. This is one activity that is only possible to perform when Ayaan is flat on his back – which as far as he is concerned is a position for losers. So one has to struggle to make him get into and stay in that position. If you are lucky, you may be able to interest him in some object (a toy, the fan, the baby wipes packet….) for long enough to keep him down. But this is rare as the only things that are really interesting these days are objects that can be used as a crutch to stand up. So most of the time, two people are needed to change him. One to hold him down (while he protests rather loudly and violently) while the other quickly does the deed.

Even feeding times have become quite a task. So far, we were feeding him in his bouncie chair. But Ayaan has now learnt how to twist himself around and climb out of the chair. So after every few bites, that’s what he must do. Then he crawls around, does a few pull-ups on the nearby chair and then comes back for more. But here is one area that I absolutely refuse to give in. So when he comes back for more, he is told, “only in the chair” and popped back into the bouncie. But not for long, 5-6 bites and he is off again. The chair comes with a belt but being tied down to the chair is a sure recipe for an extended crying fit. And I read somewhere that a battle over food is pretty one-sided. The kid will always win as he controls whether he will open his mouth and swallow or clamp his jaws shut or even worse spew forth whatever food is put into his mouth. So a lot of time and patience goes into putting him back into the chair repeatedly and feeding him. But I think he is starting to get the message on this one as he is now finishing atleast half his meal before he makes his first foray out of the chair. If only I could similarly solve the diaper problem.

At all other times, he needs 100% supervision and following around so when I am home I have all but abandoned furniture for sitting on the ground and crawling around with Ayaan. This is imperative as he attracted to all sorts of unhygienic things like dustbins and shoes. Also, he tends to pull himself on the flimsiest of things so one has to be hovering around to ensure that he doesn’t fall.

But it sure is fun to see him developing and doing new things almost every day. And following him around on the floor definitely beats carrying him around.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Weighty Issues

Yesterday was Ayaan’s 8-month routine check-up at the doctor. Fingers and toes crossed, I placed him on the weighing scale. Hurrah! Weight gain was good this month. But for some reason he hasn’t grown a centimeter. In fact, he seems to have shrunk a centimeter. The doctor must have made an error measuring him the last time. He’s so wriggly; it’s actually quite hard getting the tape to stay on him long enough to make a completely accurate measurement. Anyway, the doctor says that it’s okay as he was a pretty tall baby to start with.

Ayaan was never plump, even when he was born, and two months of poor weight gain have ensured that he is somewhat thinner than your average bonny baby. Which is actually fine by me as he is active and healthy in all other respects. What I have a problem with is the constant comments from relatives and even complete strangers on the fact that he is thin. People have a stereotypical notion of fat, chubby babies being the only way to go. And any baby who falls short of that must therefore not be thriving. The worst description I have heard so far is ‘kamzor’ (weak). I hate that word. It implies that Ayaan is a poor, starved weakling. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ayaan is not starved or starving. He has (touch wood) a healthy appetite and is a very active baby.

This said, the fact of the matter is that I am deeply affected by such comments and opinions. Every time one of them comes my way, I feel like a bad mother and wonder what I may be doing wrong. So to make myself feel better and to appreciate Ayaan for what he is, I am going to make a list of why I am happy that Ayaan is the way he is:
  1. Ayaan is an extremely active child and is always on the go. They say that lighter babies are quicker to crawl and walk since they have less weight to get off the ground. At eight months, Ayaan is crawling, sitting and pulling himself up to a standing position.
  2. It’s far easier on my legs, arms and back to carry him around than it would have been if he were very plump. And since he still wants me to carry him for atleast an hour every day, this is not something to be scoffed at.
  3. There is now a substantial amount of research that has shown that childhood obesity has long-term consequences on the health of an individual. And babies who are overweight are much more likely to develop problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol when they reach adulthood. So thin is definitely better than fat.
  4. How and what children eat in early childhood does have a major influence on their eating habits later on. I am sure it would be pretty easy to fatten up Ayaan if I were to feed him high fat, oily food. But to what end? To make him look like someone else’s idea of a healthy baby? At the cost of him developing a taste for oily, greasy foods rather than fresh, healthy food? I don’t think so.

In summary, Ayaan is happy and healthy and I am proud of him just the way he is and wouldn’t change a thing.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Worry Worry Worry

OK I admit it. I was always a bit of a control freak. I like a clean and orderly life and lack of the same can seriously put my nose out of joint. However, this in no way prepared me for the wave upon wave of worry and paranoia that comes along with being a mother.

It started the day Ayaan was born. Most mothers I know talk about an instant outpouring of maternal love as soon as they hold their baby for the first time. Not for me. I felt scared. Was I holding him right? Was his head supported well enough? What if I slipped and dropped him? Am I holding him too tight? Am I feeding him correctly? Is he getting enough milk? Is the room too cold for him? Is the room too hot for him? Why is he crying? Is he hungry? Is he wet? Is he in pain? And all this was just the first week at the hospital!

Since then, the list of worries has changed but the fear persists. My top five fears at the moment:

  1. What if he hurts himself really badly? No matter how much you childproof your home, there is no 100% safe environment for a curious baby who has just started to crawl and is also trying to pull himself up on the furniture. We discover and fix new hazards every day. Last week, I worried that the bookshelf might topple over so we bolted it to the wall. This week I am worried about Ayaan pulling the tablecloth and everything on it down onto himself – so its goodbye to tablecloths for a while. And the list never ends. Almost everything can be a hazard if you really think about it. Ayaan can either fall on it, he can fall from it, it can fall on him, he can swallow it, he can break it into harmful pieces, and so on…
  2. Germs. Germs. Germs. They are everywhere. They always have been but I have never been this aware of their existence. Now entire chain of events can be built around everything. Here’s an example: Ayaan is putting his hand into his mouth. Earlier, we came up in the elevator and he touched the buttons. There’s a cold epidemic going on. So there’s a good chance someone with a cold was in the elevator sometime earlier. And he would have also touched the very same buttons. And what if he wiped his nose before that…you see where this going?
  3. What if I die? My own mortality has suddenly taken on a new significance for me. Earlier, I never thought about it. But now another human being depends on me for his very existence. And this strikes me every time I get an urge to dash across the road – I now wait till there is a substantial gap in the traffic before attempting such a thing. I am even thinking about writing a will.
  4. Is he eating enough? Is he gaining enough weight? Every visit to the paediatrician is like going for an exam and every time we get a pass or a fail grade depending on whether Ayaan’s weight gain is adequate.
  5. What if my nanny quits/ falls sick/ behaves so badly that I have to sack her? The last search made me realise finding a good maid for the baby is not easy, in fact it is bloody tough. How will I go to work if that happens? What if I can’t find a replacement and I have to quit? How will we repay our home loan?

I am pretty sure that the lists of worries will keep changing but I pretty much signed myself up for worry when I decided to become someone’s mother. A lifetime of worry is pretty much part of the job description.

As someone once wrote, “Don’t tell me that worry doesn’t do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen”. The chances are pretty good that this was written by a mother!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Retail Therapy

Finally, my genes seem to be kicking in with Ayaan. The kid loves shopping. Taking him to a shop can dispel even the crankiest of moods. It’s like magic - a really upset child gets transformed into a contented and fascinated one.

Yesterday, we took him to Shopper’s Stop. The minute we walked in, the crying stopped. First we went to the leather section and Ayaan wanted to get down on the floor and play with the shoes. We distracted him from this by taking him to a huge mirror nearby. That kept him entertained for 10 minutes while Daddy tried on belts. He talked to his image, smiled at mine and looked open-jawed at the store as depicted in the looking glass.

Next was a visit to the book section. While Daddy browsed, Ayaan tried to destroy by pulling books off the shelf and flinging them on the floor. An embarrassed Mama then hurried out of there and walked around the rest of the floor. The highlight here was the lingerie section. Something about the bras just totally fascinated Ayaan. Maybe he associated them with milk or maybe he’s already thinking ahead to the future!

The next visit was to the kiddie section and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually have a play area for kids with building blocks and the like. The things one never knew existed before having a kid! So Ayaan and I spend a happy 15 minutes there watching some older kids building with Lego. Ayaan stood holding the table and tried to get a piece of the action but the older boys were not having any of this and took back the Lego blocks with a stern ‘No’. This didn’t seem to bother Ayaan, who kept cheering on their efforts by banging his hands on the table.

So the drive through evening traffic was well worth the effect. An hour passed peaceably and pleasantly. And maybe I can look forward to finally having a willing shopping companion!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Baby’s Day Out

Yesterday, Ayaan met another baby. Baby Veer is two and half months older and while Ayaan and Veer have met before, this was the first time they showed any degree of interest in each other.

They first met in the park while being carried around by their moms. At this point, they couldn’t have cared less about each other – mom and garden being far more interesting.

Later, we went up to Veer’s room and opened up Veer’s toy bag. Then they both spent some time banging the toys around on the floor and throwing them around, some of these hurled dangerously close to each other. At this point, Veer suddenly really noticed Ayaan for the first time and wanted to play but being bigger and stronger letting them at each other seemed like a bad idea. So then mom-controlled discovery of each other happened with some general swatting and touching. They then discovered a whole bunch of old newspapers and proceeded to make them unworthy of being read.

Overall, I think Veer was a bit disappointed in Ayaan’s overall developmental levels. He clearly wanted him to stand up next to him and insisted on grabbing Ayaan’s overalls and trying to hoist him up.

But clearly, they are both not yet ready to play with each other. I wonder when kids reach the age when they can play with each other safely and productively. And when that heaven of an age will arrive when they can actually be left alone in a room to entertain each other, while the mothers sit in the other room and sip margaritas!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Caught on Camera

Yesterday we took Ayaan for his first passport photograph. I didn’t realise how seriously they take this at the photo shop.

First of all, the man looked at me very disapprovingly and asked me to comb Ayaan’s hair. After that, getting Ayaan into position was a major challenge. I had to make him stand but far enough from me so that none of my body parts came into the frame yet close enough to be able to support him. My hands needed to support him but could not be seen. We finally solved this by me putting my hands underneath his T-shirt!

That’s not all. The next challenge was getting Ayaan to look in the right direction (he had chosen this moment to develop an ardent interest in the floor mosaic. So Jai was called upon to stand behind the photographer with a big, colourful rattle (readily available with the photographer I might add) and try and get Ayaan to look at it. He was admonished a couple of times by the photographer before he managed to hold it just at the right spot.

So all set but couldn’t have been this easy. So, Ayaan suddenly got an overriding urge to stuff all his fingers into his mouth. And to remove them, I had to get my hands out from under his T-shirt. So much for our carefully choreographed position that had to be recreated from scratch!

Finally, back to the correct position, rattle in position and cheese!! The flash went off and really pissed off Ayaan who started bawling like something had smacked him in the face. Thankfully the photographer was satisfied with the results so we just paid and got out of there!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Making a statement

Some really cute baby t-shirts that I have come across:

If you think I'm good looking, you should see my mom

If you think I am a mess, you should see my daddy

Your lips keep moving but all I hear is blah blah blah

Millionaire in training

Just wait till I can talk

Been there, broke that

Weapon of Mass Destruction

He thinks he's my daddy

Sleep is for the weak

Mummy's little stalker

Saw it...
Wanted it....
Threw a tantrum...
GOT it!

I only cry when ugly people hold me

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Time of Many Firsts

This is the first time for me as a mom. It is also the first time that I have written a blog so forgive if it rambles a bit.

The mom experience has been completely overwhelming and has taken over my life in ways I never thought possible. My son is an extremely demanding child. For the first 5 months, he wanted to be carried ALL the time. He rejected the sling and would complain lustily even if I sat down while carrying him. So it meant hours and days of walking and carrying - my knees and back almost didn't survive it.

Thankfully he has started crawling now and does not want to be carried so much but that has not brought any respite. Since he refuses to be confined to a playpen, he has to be followed around all day. Last week, my attention wandered for a minute and he managed to reach a pail of water and empty it onto himself!!! Add this to the fact that he thinks that napping is a bad thing; it means a very long and tiring day.

But it is also getting to be so much fun now. He babbles, coos and smiles a lot. I look forward to the moment when I go home everyday and see his face light up when he sees me. It’s so nice to be loved like that – because of yourself, inspite of yourself. It is so amazing to know that you are the very centre of someone else’s existence.

That’s when I think. I should really appreciate this clingy, needy phase of his. Because a few years down the line, Mama will be someone he will be embarrassed to introduce to his friends!!