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A working mother recounts her personal musings about the precious time with her child at bedtime that she gets everyday. Do read.
It’s almost 1 am by the clock. My toddler Narayani has fallen asleep half an hour ago. And in spite of the entire day’s exertion, I have lost my sleep somehow tonight.
We came to our bedroom at around 10.45. After making Narayani gulp her daily glass of milk, I tried for almost 45 minutes to put her to sleep. Yet she was awake, active and did not show any sign of weariness. I gave up on her and opened my kindle. I was wrong in hoping that I would be able to read anything.
She came up to me, snatched it away and started her train of innocent questions again. At around 11.45 I somehow forced her to sleep using the daily threats about ‘police kaka’ and ‘bhuubhuu’. When she finally started dozing off cuddling my stomach, I could relax a bit.
Today, I was holding her tiny hands in mine. They have grown a little since I last observed them so keenly yet they are still tiny. The fingers are longer now and the patterns of mehendi which she has drawn by herself have become dark brown. It was such a pleasure watching her squeeze the mehendi cone with her little fingers and make those strange designs on her own hands yesterday. Just a two year old toddler and developing such skills – I was thrilled. But she was more excited than me – shouting and proudly showing everyone in the house her brand new creation. And I could just anticipate what lay in the future.
I thought of the numerous nights I spent holding her like this when she was a newborn. Most of the new moms have complained about the sleepless nights they have to deal with in the initial couple of months after the delivery. But strangely, baring a couple of nights when I was absolutely miserable, I did not feel that level of discomfort. I can still remember those chilly winter nights when everyone slept and both of us would be awake watching the dark trees shaking in the night breeze. When Narayani grows old, I shall tell her about those beautiful nights both of us – mother and daughter – shared. Those were my precious moments with my precious new baby stolen from the rest of the world.
It is just recently, since I started going to office an hour early for a new assignment that she has started staying awake till late.
Her dad comes home by midnight as he is working for the UK shift. I am usually done with my day’s chores by 10.30 pm when both of us retire to our bedroom. She can then have me all for herself before she falls asleep. She keeps on blabbering continuously for these 30-40 mins she gets. She also has to show me her toys and books, watch some songs and play games on my mobile. When all is over, she keeps on asking same questions which she asks every night. “What is this?”, “This is a curtain”. “What is this?”, “This is a cupboard”. “What is this?”, “This is a shadow”.
When I finally put off the light, she wants a glass of milk. When even that is gulped down in another 10 minutes, she needs to listen to “do naina aur ek kahani” before reluctantly dosing off.
I know she does this to be with me. She doesn’t get enough of my time. I see that. And I take the complete blame for it. There are enough logical explanations to your behavior and the mind can always fabricate new reasons for prioritizing other things over your baby. But those will always stay only for a while. And then one day you have to face the truth of your parenting journey. Your baby will always deserve more of you – more than what you give her.
I know she will not need me one day. She will not cuddle me the way she does now. When I massage her before bathing after a gap of two weeks I can feel that the legs have grown a little longer and the thighs are stronger and I wonder at the speed she is growing. I randomly catch some words she has started using, the way she has started imitating her Aajoba and Aaji while talking.
And I wonder when did that happen? I feel bad thinking about more such aspects I am going to miss out on because of my altered priorities. And I can’t do anything – but sigh and let the moment pass.
I know it is going to be stressful in the office tomorrow with tonight’s sleep deprivation. And with all the logical thinking in place, I would want Narayani to sleep early tomorrow so that I get that half an hour of extra sleep. But in my heart I am hoping that she stays, just like tonight. And I will let not force her to sleep. I will let her be. To observe her joy and her smile. I can afford to let her stay awake once in a while even if it costs me the entire next day. Can’t I?
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