I'm at that juncture in my life where most of my friends are married or already have children. There are a select few who are still not and sometimes I do look wistfully at them and ask them to bask in the no-kids phase as much as they can because the ultimate truth is that once you become a parent, your life changes forever and nothing is ever the same again. Now, of course, I don’t mean this in a bad way because the joy of parenthood any day outweighs all the life-altering changes.
Not everyone is always ready for a responsibility as overwhelming as bringing a life into this world and being accountable for everything that they grow up to be. And, I totally get it because all of a sudden your partner and you get dismissed to one side of the bed instead of getting to sprawl and sleep, the mountain of laundry doubles (triples, actually), the financial bills pile up, and you become an expert in identifying different kinds of poop. Well, I can go on and on.
When I was much younger, the idea of getting into labour and ejecting a full-grown baby from a small cavity down there used to terrify me. I also used to wonder if I'd ever be half as good a parent as my mother was to my sister and me. But that’s the thing about life. It’s sort of funny. Everything that you’re scared of or worry about happens, in its own time and then you look back and sort of chuckle thinking, ‘Hey, I did it!’ Or in my case—I’m still doing it.
I worry that so much has changed since our childhood in the 90s and raising a kid in 2022 is vastly different from that. Four-year-olds these days can operate the iPad better than I can, 10-year-olds carry iPhones to school and 13-year-olds have their own Instagram accounts. As a journalist, I know that my entire life's history is just one measly Google search away. One click and all my bylines, tweets, embarrassing photographs and even stupid Facebook status messages are out there for the world to see. One day my child will grow up and probably Google his mother and… I'm breaking into a sweat just thinking about it!
Also, what if my son grows up to be a rebellious teen like me? Will he still love me and be affectionate to me? Right now, I'm thinking about my teenage years and it couldn't have been pretty for my dad. I was one of those rebel-without-a-cause kids who had to do weird things just to get attention and prove a (mostly useless) point. For instance, when I was 16, one day, out of the blue, I decided to colour my hair red. I got flak for it both at school and at home and when our Principal ordered me to colour it back to black, I took a pair of scissors and chopped my tresses, making my head look like an uneven grassy backyard. Anger got the best of me! I hope my son gets his father's genes in this aspect because the thought of raising a mini imp version of the teenage me is just so terrifying. Side note: thank you, Dad, for handling my rebellious punk teen phase; I'm sure it wasn't easy for you as a single parent.
Talking about single parenting, I lost my mother when I was very young and my dad raised us single-handedly. When I was extremely hormonal and pregnant, I was so afraid of giving birth in a hospital room without my mother by my side. All new moms generally go stay with their mothers for a few months leading to and/or after their deliveries. I couldn’t. During my entire pregnancy, I missed her dearly and wished she was there to pamper me. Being pregnant during a pandemic didn’t make things easy either. My husband and I were pretty much left to manage everything alone and our families couldn’t visit us during that entire time. Being pregnant and raising a child in a raging pandemic is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. But that’s a story for another day.
As a toddler's mom, I can tell you that there are a LOT of meltdowns, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness that creeps up from time to time. Especially when your child is sick, your worries hit through the roof. You stay up, night after night tending to the little one wishing you could take all their pain away, wishing you had fallen sick instead of them. But honestly, the thing that worries me the most as a mother is how I’m responsible for how my son turns out to be when he grows up. It’s an overwhelming feeling when you realise that you’re a role model now to a mini-you who watches you closely and looks up to everything that you do. As a boy mom, I worry if I’d be able to teach him all the right values—to care, to empathise, to believe in equality, to not pander to patriarchy, and to dream. Yes, it’s a lot. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mother in the world who worries. I’ll tell you a little secret—every mom (parent, for that matter) in the world worries if they’re doing enough. Ask your mom if you don’t believe me. But at the end of the day, we are all just trying to do our best.
Despite all my fears, I became a mom and it honestly makes me the happiest. The first time I looked into my son’s eyes and held one little finger in my fist, I cried like a crazy person because I couldn’t believe that this tiny person on my lap was actually my flesh and blood. That, my husband and I, actually made a baby. I'm not sure about a lot of things in life, but there's one thing I know without a doubt—that I'm going to give my son all the motherly love (and more) that I never got while growing up.