I just get
That I have yet
Driving me to
The verge of
“Get over it”,
I tell myself,
Just push it
– Yousuf Bawany, May 2016
No borders can stop light from shining through. Don’t get intimidated by the barbed wires life spins around you; think how to break-free and shine like the light you were always meant to be.
In response to this week’s photo challenge.
Daughters are precious. Seems like yesterday when I took her into my arms for the very first time; it’s been 17 months already, and time seems to have no intention of slowing down. At the office, I just can’t wait for the day to end so that I can enjoy the sound of her laughter, the sight of her cherubic face, the touch of her little arms wrapped around me, the taste of the half-eaten saliva-soaked potato chip that she lovingly shoves into my mouth, and the smell of watermelon-flavored baby shampoo in her hair. Every day I get to spend with her is a day I cherish.
There are instances when my daughter’s out with her mother and I finally have some peace. I hate to admit it but I am super-excited about the prospect of getting some alone time for myself, but five minutes into this ‘quality time’, and I start missing her immensely, my existence fading away into nothingness. So to fill this void, I grab my car keys and go pick my daughter up from wherever she has gone to; if that’s not an option (like when she’s with her mother at a wedding reception), all I can do is wait for her to come back. Sigh!
At this point in her life, she’s on a road to self-discovery, learning new words, acquiring new tastes, and making bold choices at a staggering pace. Fairly recently, she started calling me ‘Papa’, while referring to herself as ‘Dolly’. Moreover, she now understands the meaning of ‘No, No, No!’ and she doesn’t wait to say it out loud if something is not to her liking. She’s becoming head-strong, assertive and opinionated, less a child, more an adult. It makes me reflect on the high intellectual level kids these days have as compared to kids in my generation, all the while being painfully aware that she’s growing up faster than I want her to. There are a few quirks of hers that, at times, astound, amaze, annoy, irritate, and even worry me, but looking at them from another perspective, I am reminded that these cute little habits of hers won’t last forever, that the sands of time are a slipping, no matter how tightly I try holding on to them. So if you have a little angel in your life, you should just*:
People say you can only understand being the father of a daughter only if you have one of your own, and this has never been truer. The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I cried, knowing that God has loaned her to me for a very short time, until someone else sweeps her off her feet and takes her away. Try as I might, I can’t delay the inevitable, or stop time for that matter, but she’ll always be my baby girl no matter how old she gets.
‘Papa loves you, darling, and he knows he will always be your first love.’
What goes on in the labor room, stays in the labor room! Some progressive hospitals let the dad into the labor room to enjoy (seriously?!) the whole 360-degree birthing experience, but more often than not, the dad and the couple’s close relatives sit in the waiting area, praying for the health of the mother and the baby. The father-to-be can clearly be distinguished from the lot as the one pacing the entire length of the dimly-lit corridor, biting his nails (or indulging in some alternate idiosyncrasy), waiting for the nurse to come out with some good news; a scene straight out of a silent movie. It could be hours, even days (God forbid), till you hear from the hospital staff, and when you’ve given up all hope, a nurse sporting blood-splattered scrubs (the source is better left unnamed) bursts out of the labor room screaming, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” (or a boy). What follows is nothing short of a miracle; the silent ambiance is ruptured with shrieks of joy and cries of “Mubarak Ho, Mubarak Ho!” (meaning Congratulations in Urdu). From my personal experience and fairly recent induction into daddy-ville, a possible sequence of events that follow include:
And then the baby comes home, bringing with it, two invisible (not imaginary) companions named “Sleepless Nights” and “Ceaseless Crying”. You have no choice but to welcome them into your humble abode; no compromises. Waking up at hours unheard of somehow becomes routine. People at work mock/pity you as you walk into your office with bleary red eyes. You seem to be running to the doctor every time the baby sneezes. You used to think your wife was high-maintenance; well guess again! The formula milk and the diapers, the cleaning wipes and the bouncers, the bottles and the sterilizers, the rattles and the swings, and loads of other things-that-shall-not-be-named, don’t come cheap; and don’t even get me started on the filthy expensive vaccinations. But wait; there’s another intruder that creeps into your life and needs no invitation; “Postpartum Depression”. Your wife’s mood swings, an essential part of her hormonal imbalances, may drive you to the edge and back; tears of joy might turn into a crying frenzy on how she would be a terrible mother. In her defense, after what she’s gone through, she deserves a breakdown or two (hmmm… make that a hundred). As a loving husband, you must hold her hand through all the highs and lows, and make sure she knows that you are there to support her no matter what; a freezer full of her favorite ice cream seems to help (a lot!).
The last paragraph should pretty-much sum up your life for the first three months after the baby’s birth. But as soon as the baby crosses over into her fourth month, most lucky parents (myself included) see a visible change in their lifestyles. The baby becomes more responsive, starts cooing, even ga-ga-ing at times, might even recognize you, bestow you with a smile or two, and seems to settle down into a sleeping pattern. Sleeping for four (maybe even six) hours isn’t just a dream anymore. Life somehow seems much more settled. There are a few outbursts, a tummy-ache here, a little gas there, but all-in-all, you feel blessed after having gone through what you have in the early days.
My daughter is a little over five months old now and she keeps getting more adorable every second. I can hardly restrain myself from giving her soft cheeks a loving bite. Besides being my favorite dessert, there’s a lot more she has to offer, be it a sincere smile, or a gentle caress. But more than anything, she has drastically changed my perceptions on learning; it is not a one-way street as perceived by most new parents. We spend all our lives trying to mold our children into ideals, but we somehow miss so many things our children can teach us, even as infants. Here are twelve things I learned from my five-month old daughter.
Raising a child can be nerve-wracking and fun, all at the same time. But more than anything, its an amazing voyage of self-discovery. It has its ups and downs (mostly ups), but most importantly, it allows you to appreciate the gift of life. You may have other children later on, but the experiences of raising your first born will last you a lifetime.
NOTE: Being a father, I’m writing this article from a dad’s perspective and from my own personal experience. Even though it has a lot of religious and cultural influences, you may be able to relate to most of my experiences.
This article was published at the Express Tribune Pakistan Blog (International Herald Tribune) as well as in the October – November 2011 issue of Expert Parenting and Pregnancy, Pakistan.