“Mom, I will do it myself. Don’t help me.”, she repeated assertively.
Before I could debate any further, she exclaimed in an unparalleled state of excitement.
” I did it, Mom! I did it all by myself.”
She had indeed done it. My 4-year-old had donned her night suit all by herself with zilch assistance from me and it was a huge accomplishment for her evidently. But, why was I not able to match the ecstasy and feeling of contentment of my little one? Why was my heart sinking as if I was being pulled away from a string that I was desperately trying to cling to?
We locked each other in a warm cuddle and a silent tear trickled down my cheek. Even though I tried to hold back, it couldn’t escape the keen eye of a child.
“Why are you crying Mom?”, she asked concerned.
“Nothing sweetheart. I don’t want you to grow up so soon. Stay this small for a while.”, I responded in a choked voice.
“But yesterday you said that you want me to grow up soon so that I can clean my bum on my own after pooping.”
Hearing this retort from my daughter totally left me in splits. I couldn’t stop laughing because I was actually guilty of making that comment the previous day when I was bone-tired. But even though unintended humour had transformed the mood of the moment, realisation had already hit me hard.
It hit me that with every milestone, my child is taking a giant leap towards independence. It hit me that the clock is ticking rapidly and she is growing fast; too fast for my liking. It hit me that this phase will never come back and I may be having little time remaining to make the most of it. Caught up in the daily grind of our lives, at times we forget to pause and savour the seemingly quotidian moments. And more often than not, it is our children who remind us inadvertently to breathe, reflect and soak it up to the fullest.
All this impels me to puzzle over the conundrum that is parenting. I randomly keep swinging between conflicting thoughts and oft-times end up contradicting my own statements. But, therein lies the beauty of this role, I guess. Because, the more experience I gain as a parent, the more I realise how much is left to be discovered about it. The more I understand parenting, the more I recognise what I don’t understand about it. It’s indeterminate, yet so defined. It’s simple, yet so perplexing. It drains and fulfills. It agitates as well as soothes. And while I am all emotional as I culminate this piece, my daughter has woken up and is refusing to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. This, when I have a submission pending and can’t wait to crash on the bed after turning it in. There goes the intense mush out of the window!