By Sharmini Odhav
Before my baby was born, I tried to imagine what she would be like. When she wasn’t sleeping—which I expected her to do most of the time—I pictured her sitting serenely contemplating the meaning of life or contentedly observing me as I went about my cooking, cleaning, or other work, all the while learning the essentials of womanhood. Little did I know that sleep would be the very last thing on her mind.
She wasn’t nearly as interested in finding out what was on my agenda as she was in letting me know what was on hers. She wanted every second of my time, and nothing held her attention for more than three minutes. When she got fussy, she could keep it up for hours on end, despite my doing everything but fly through the air on a trapeze to try to amuse or distract her.
At times I felt like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, running in circles trying to clean and wash and fold and keep up with all of my other necessary activities while also caring for this hyperactive new addition to my life. There were times when I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I would throw up my arms and ask God why He was punishing me. How did other women cope? Was I the only one not, in fact, superhuman?
My first reaction was to try to do everything on the double so I could somehow cram it all in to what now seemed like a minuscule 24 hours. For the most part it seemed to work, and it gave me a rush to get more done than I had before. But babies somehow just can’t be rushed through like anything else. It must be God’s way of teaching parents patience. Trying to put a baby to sleep in haste, or commanding her to “be happy,” or expecting her to entertain herself for more than a few minutes so I could do something else just didn’t work. The usual consequence was a confused, frustrated, unhappy baby, and it would take even longer to put her to sleep or help her return to her happy self. It took me awhile to realize that the less attention I showed her, the more irritated she would become. Too often I found myself barking orders or whining back at her.
Eventually I asked myself why things were the way they were. What had I become? I didn’t want my baby’s first years to pass this way, and I certainly didn’t want to be that kind of a parent to my child!
Then my mom said to me, “You should make the most of this time with your baby, because before you know it, she’ll be grown up!”
I prayed for a change of attitude, and I got it. I learned to enjoy every moment with my baby—every smile that tells me that she’s happy that I brought her into the world, every time she nestles her head on my shoulder in trusting repose, every time her tiny fingers wrap around mine or stroke my cheek, every time I feel her soft skin or smell her baby breath, every miracle I witness in her infant life that finds me shrieking in excitement. I even enjoy her cries to have some need met because they remind me of the immense responsibility I have been blessed with—her little life entrusted to my care. And when I figure out what it is she needs or cradle her in my arms and she stops her crying or fussing, I’m left with the most amazing, satisfied feeling, realizing that I am the most important, loved, and appreciated person to her. I also imagine that the way I respond to her now will influence how she will respond to me later in life.
As soon as I stopped seeing my baby as an additional chore on my to-do list, the quality of my life improved. I realized how much I love her and what an incredible experience it is to be a mother.
Now I find myself looking for ways to spend more time with her, because I don’t want to miss one second of her life before it flies by. I’m thankful for this opportunity I have to pour more into her. I’ve learned that if I put everything else aside and attend to her needs, she rewards me by being a happy, contented, and attentive baby. When she finally goes to sleep, I have time to do some of those other things I wanted to. But until then, they can wait. She’s the most precious time consumer I could ever ask for!
When things get especially busy and I think I don’t have time to give her that little extra, I remind myself that quality time spent with our children is never wasted. The love we store in their hearts will last a lifetime and beyond. If we invest time and love in our children, we’ll spend the rest of our lives reaping the dividends.
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Would you write your name
among the stars?
Then write it large upon the
hearts of the children.
They will remember!
Have you visions of a nobler,
Tell the children!
They will build it for you.