Ode to the ‘working’ mother

I have this painting hanging in my room. I had always seen it as two friends walking each with their own agenda. Recently, however, on a very overwhelming day, it dawned on me that this just might be the same lady. It could be me, on any given day.

On becoming a mother, I entered extremely unfamiliar territory (please note that it does not get familiar with time). Each day is a new day to explore and learn new things. You may reference the past but it cannot firmly be used as a basis for anything. So yesterday, the baby slept all through the night. Awesome. Today, we are fascinated by the darkness or the sound of crickets or just purely nothing, the result is the baby will not be sleeping through the night.

I had been raised to get a full eight hours sleep. Did you know that a newborn needs to feed every two hours even at night? I did not know my left from my right. Each day, I was amazed that I was functioning in all my right senses. Without 8 hours of sleep. I had razor sharp reflexes, nothing could fall out of my hands. My senses, I could smell things for miles including diaper deposits.

The exhilarating joy of hearing someone say ‘mummy’. The calmness of seeing your baby asleep. And oh! the happiness of seeing clean linen on the line. It was new every morning.

Then, I had to leave the baby and pick my basket and head to work. The angst, the anguish. The numerous unanswered questions and whatifs? Resisting the urge to pick the phone and call to give some quick instruction.

And the trek back home, through traffic, to breastfeed. Never getting anywhere on time, ‘you just missed the baby. He has slept’. ‘You are late for the meeting again.’ ‘Is this baby going to be a problem to your targets?’

There must be a better way- thank you baby.com, thank you Avent, we start expressing milk from the office loos. They were quite clean, if I may add. It was the best they could offer as private. Frozen stocks. Baby is well fed.

Baby falls sick, temperature is rising. Quick dash to the clinic.Thank you Rapha and Keserena for child friendly spaces. Lively colors and colorful thermometers and canulas, temperature is controlled. My boys did not know that injections hurt . they calmly took them and out we went. Thank God for skillful paediatric nurses.

I cannot get time off work to look after the baby. The baby is off the back, the basket is back on the head. The whole drive, ‘I wonder what kind of mother am I?’ ‘Who leaves their sick child?’ ‘What choices do I have?’ I feel boxed in. Choked by the basket’s weight. It is only for a moment. Soon I shall be home, working on each fine detail. Their meals. Their bath time. Their medication. Their bed time. Oooohhhh, I hope I can make it in time for their play time. Then chores and more chores.

Thank God for good nannies who follow instructions. Who care for the baby. Who keep your trust.

Babies have grown into toddlers, they are rumbacious. They love to roam and bring me lovely gifts of dirt, leaves and insects. They are fascinated by the world. The trainnnn, the digggerrr! I can ride on my own. I can slide! I can slide backwards….oopppssss. Cries and laughter mesh together. I learn to cry and laugh at the same time.

Dirtier children. Dirtier clothes. Very nice opinions, just that they somehow are not mine and somehow don’t work with my current time zone. Bedtime wars. Food wars. Potty training wars. Arrggghhh. Picking up the basket is easier now, mummy needs some grown ups around her. Their tears are heart breaking, saying goodbye is not their favorite time. I stick to a routine, I keep a schedule. It makes it easier with time.

I regal in their endless stories, mixed up words. Their new friends at school and their favorite teachers. The time between setting baby down and picking baskets is becoming blurry. Daycare runs mesh with meeting agendas. Meetings with clients mesh with parent teacher conferences. I call my co workers by my son’s name and forget to pay attention when my son calls me. The nights are shorter, the days are shorter. Where did time go?

They graduate to primary school, I am a complete crying wreck. I always thought this graduation from nursery was hogwash. But look at my baby boy,he can read, he is confident on stage, he can sing and dance. Heartfuls of gratitude. The weight of the basket was worth it.Thank you our nursery school teachers who patiently groom our babies, who pamper them into learning.

The journey continues, I still carry the baby and the basket and the pot. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a companion. To all the mothers, Walk On.