As my daughter turns one coming Tuesday, there is mixed feeling inside me. I am unable to understand whose celebration is it. Shying away from socializing is my second nature so I wasn’t surprised but something inside me told me to investigate this feeling a little further. Why would I not want to make it a big day for her. Why I won’t call her crawling friends and arrange for a big party? Balloons, jingles, candies and a big cake…why not??? My mom says “first birthday is always first it never comes back”, “so is 2nd or 6th or 17th, none of them come back”, said I. “Oh you always want to argue with me, these days you have so many services to help you, unlike my time, you can just dial a number.” But is that reason enough to celebrate? That afternoon as I was watching my daughter put her tiny finger into the dust-accumulated-door hole on the floor, I realised that it hardly mattered for her. As I plunked her away from the area of conflict, she gave me a look in the eyes, “I’m going for the switchboard mom, can you not bother me”. As she crawled her way into other crevices filled pastures, I realised it is not going to be her day, it does not mean anything to her. She doesn’t know what it has taken to come to this day. Nobody knows. Only her mother. Forty weeks of pregnancy and then a whole year she has been watching and waiting patiently. Wishing her anxiety and fear of uncertainty does not walk into the next day. She has forgotten herself this year, becoming a zombie with shades of black around her eyes. She became Micheal Jordan whose hands will elongated just in time to cushion the baby’s head from banging. She can’t remember when she finished a meal in one sitting. She wishes the tiny one sleeps a little longer so that she can complete shampooing. Often not knowing what day and date it is and living one day at a time, she has been indeed waiting for this day.
As I think back to this same day last year, it feels farther away in memory than one year. After a whole night of labour pain, I was brought into the maternity ward which rather looked like an assembly line. I was put on the bed close to the entry door. I figured that the subject moved from bed to bed which was progressively arranged to reach the action room, the place of delivery. Having entered into the assembly officially I lay there quietly observing the blue leafed coconut trees on the curtains of the side window. I was wondering if such a thing was put intentionally so that these moaning groaning women can take their minds off once in a while. As directed I was lying on my back which gave me immense relief. A luxury I could not have for months together and my mind taken away by the blue coconut leaves, I was at peace. I began wondering if the artist really painted it blue or could it be a malfunction at the printing mill, or did he want to draw the vastness of the sea….”put your legs apart please” said the interrupting voice, before I could come back from the coconut lagoon I felt her finger in between and inside me. I could only manage to mumble to which she said, “not dilated enough” as if I was to be blamed. As I progressed bed by bed towards the action room not even in my wildest imagination I had thought about this day a year later. I was only interested in reaching the end of the line. From that day to coming Tuesday and a whole year in between, so much has happened so fast. With every muscle aching one after another as if screaming their existence and every emotion a mind can conjure up, it has been a spiritual ride.
Even though I as how I and others know of me didn’t exist last year, a new me slipped in and has taken over. This new me buzzed around the house like a possessed soul. Feeding, changing, bathing, wiping, cooking, playing, singing, washing, putting her to bed-just like an uninterrupted 24X7 customer support system. What she left behind in me is a skinny loose bag which I often try to tuck in my old jeans which sooner or later I may be able to go back into. What I may not be able to go back into is the old me. This means the whole world to me now and I so much love being a mother. That’s why this day also belongs to me.