Five things I love about being a mother. But alas for you! I am an anarchist and I loathe precision and brevity.
Can you imagine the Sound of Music if Rodgers and Hammerstein just got to mention five favourite things?
You would have raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string and a helluva crappy song. No dogbites, bee stings or general gaeity.
But I ramble now. You were forewarned.
Right. Deep breath and here goes:
1. Tiny fingerprints, lip-prints, wet open-mouth prints on all glassy and semi-matt surfaces. A top reason not to dust or wash windows. I can spend ages staring, remembering funny faces meshed into glass and feel molten with love.
2. Bedtimes in a darkened room. The way soft hair tickles your nose when you bury your face into his neck to hum a lullaby. The mother of pearl eyelids. The heartbeats that make your heart stop. The slack-jawed sleep of the innocent child. Drool and milk on my t-shirt.
3. Scribbles on walls. The spot outside our bedroom door where Arvind scribbled our names as soon as he learnt to write. The way he drew me beside his bed because it made him feel I was always there. (I had a small head and a huge gut – he was amazingly accurate) The tiny red hearts drawn on the wall next to our bed. The use of Scotch Brite can be met with capital punishment in this home.
4. The banishment of self-indulgence. Had a bad day? Bad week at work? Sprained back? Cracked ribs? Well, pop an aspirin with your whisky, end the goddamn pity party and get a move on. You have a child to raise, a path to beat down, huge mistakes to make and no-one else to take the blame. (This is sucky, but I love how character building it is for a wuz like me who would gladly chuck it otherwise!)
5. The sheer physicality of it all. More than the marrow-squeezing hugs and sloppy kisses. Knowing their geography and topography by heart. The cuts, the moles, the scars, the ingrown nail, the dimples. Learning a new language – the hunch of dejected shoulders, the excited restless legs, fluttering hands, bursting hearts and eyes all welled-up or shining like black opals. The way the spoon is always just so.
6. The Dad. Only other human being as overwhelmingly in love with them as I am. 50-50 parenting partner since 2003. (Ok, often 75-25 in his favour if you will). You breed, you weep, you gnash a little, but suddenly there you are, knee-deep in it together, developing this code – this secret braille of adoration incomprehensible to anyone else. Yes, even the Mossad.
7. The Dad – Part 2. Gallows humour during the very worst of times. Deliveries from hell, a child’s operation, almost kicking the bucket post-partum second time round. We have never held each other so much or laughed as much. Being the Better to the other’s Worse. Life, screw your lemons. We’ve made Seinfeld episodes out of you each time.
8. Oh the humility. Next to Death, probably the best leveller in these parts. The kick in the teeth to all those bourgeoisie notions of self, of parenting and childrearing. Throwing out the books and playing it by the ear, the gut and occasionally an armhole. On a wing and a prayer, folks!