When will I be ready to be a Parent?

by Anita Menon

Before anyone gets any ideas, I would like to make one thing clear, that the target audience for this post does not include me at all. I have a 11 month old baby and have my hands full at the moment. This post is particularly directed towards my friends who constantly ask me how I knew I was ready for this herculean commitment.

This is one question, each one of you who has been married for over 3 years will ask yourself from time to time. Before I had Mimi, I was too busy with a demanding husband ( sorry, Amit!  But you know it is true!!), my career, my work out routines, my marathon running aspirations, my friends, travelling and all that jazz. The pressure to have a baby started building up once we completed 3 years of our blissful married life. At every social event, family get together and at general chit-chat rounds with colleagues in office, the baby question kept propping up. The more people pressured, questioned and even doubted, more I grew resilient and cold.  In the beginning I kept giving them various answers such as we are thinking about it, we are not ready, there is still a lot of time etc. But soon I got tired of these question and answer sessions and started to draw long silences whenever I was asked about this. This clearly meant to my perpetrator that he/she was crossing a line and it was clearly none of his/her business.

Meanwhile, all the tempest in my heart kept churning and picking up momentum and I actually made a list justifying why I wasn’t ready to have a baby:

1.  I liked the quality of my life and was not ready to give it all up for a baby. My parties, my dinner with friends, shopping , travelling etc.

2. The thought of growing big during pregnancy and the mammoth challenge of losing the weight afterward was the a big motivator to not have a baby. I know it is vain and conceited but definitely a thought that crossed my mind, several times.

3. Having a baby would mean an entirely new level of multi tasking – job ( and related travelling) would obviously take a back seat and would definitely have its consequences during annual review and the likes.

4. Babies actually scared me. All the tantrums, the sleepless nights, the pooping, were some of the reasons that frightened me to say the least.

5. I am Trypanophobic( an established fact, ask my mom) — phobia of needles. The sight of them makes me want to faint. During pregnancy, blood tests are a must!

6. Financially we were not sorted out, so this was again a major factor.

So I convinced myself that I had my priorities sorted out while the world worried about my biological clock ticking away!

So how did it all change?

Well from what I know, some of us plan pregnancies and for others it is a big surprise. I belong to the latter category. I surprised myself by accepting the situation for how it presented itself and mentally I started to plan ahead. So in hindsight, I feel, one can never be prepared to  be a parent/mom. When the situation presents itself, your body, your mind accepts it accordingly. Even people who plan having a baby, can never be prepared. I thought if I knew I was pregnant, I would be hysterical and confused. But none of that happened. It sunk in faster than I had anticipated. For the fathers I think it is more of a reflection of what the mums-to-be are feeling. If the mum-to-be is feeling confident and relaxed, the father-to-bes’ anxiety melts away in no time.

Doubts, financial insecurity etc take care of themselves once you embark on this miraculous journey. Being a mother/parent is a serious lifetime commitment, ever-increasing in scope.  Nature has designed this project in the most amazing way. It is a step by step process and at each stage it gives you the strength to cope up with the challenges ( in want of a better word!). Hormones lift up your spirits and the world seems to be a wonderful place but at times they take a U-Turn but that is something your husbands have to worry about. The things that I most enjoyed during my pregnancy were:

1. I could eat all that I wanted and how much ever I wanted because there was no pressure.

2. Hair, skin etc get a boost apart from ‘other ‘ things.

3. For a change you are taken care of most of the times. People constantly keep worrying after you.

4. THE BEST OF ALL OF THEM: A life growing inside you gives you such an amazing feeling that is indescribable. For that alone, I was able to brave the needles, the occasional fatigue and even the labour pain.

All in all it is a win-win situation for the baby and you. A baby finds a wonderful You and vice-versa.  Babies are so wonderful because they are cute and they are all yours. They do not care about how fat you are and how ugly you look. You mean the world to them. Even if they get upset with you, they would still come to you.

So my advice to everybody who is on the cross-road and wants to know how they can be sure, if it is TIME;

You will never know. Let this surprise engulf you and transcend you into a space, you never knew existed within you. Everyone , atleast, I feel, I am very selfish concerned with my joys and pleasures but having a baby makes you think beyond that. This is one thing, I would recommend everybody should experience because nothing, trust me , nothing will ever make you feel so selfless.

In our day-to-day life, we simply skim through things and never enjoy them to the fullest. Anumita gave me the opportunity to stop and smell the roses. I thank her for that.  If you have doubts about whether you would be a good parent/mom, you just have to fill your consciousness with love and your motherhood abilities would blossom. It has its own share of trials and tribulations and asks from us considerable amount of patience but at the end of the day, it is satisfaction guaranteed!!