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It Doesn’t Have To Be HARD For New Parents, It Just Has To Be KIND

If the transition from ‘would-be parents’ to ‘new parents’ isn’t stressful enough, what with the sleep deprivation, endless chores and zero downtime, all new parents have to deal with the additional stress of a strange tension creeping between them. A tension that hangs heavy in the air, like the long-standing smell of poop and baby wipes.  A tension that can feel as confusing as it is challenging in working together for your kid and still feeling torn asunder, pulled apart.

couple in love_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

I remember when my husband and I had to face the elephant in the room, while our bundle of joy lay right alongside, unyielding in her intention of bringing the roof down with her I-am-here-what-are-you-guys-talking-about tearworks (or so I thought)! While it was difficult to have THE talk when your fingers had turned into puppets playing their hey-little-baby-look-at-me(-and-for-the-love-of-god-stop-crying) part, we did. We had to. We had been fighting for as long as I remembered being a mom and it hurt, to say the least. It wasn’t what I’d envisioned parenthood would be like. I mean, sure, I had no delusions about it being easy-breezy but I didn’t know it’d come at this cost.

Suggested read: A letter to my daughter on starting a new life

Our first fight happened right when we were leaving the hospital. He took our daughter from my arms and yet, for a moment there, I thought he’d just crush her tiny, wobbly head. Before I knew it, I snapped. There. Right in front of the doctor, the nurse and another patient I was sharing the room with. I apologized immediately but the damage was done. Back home, things only got worse. From warming the breast milk ‘just right’ to folding her washcloths ‘just right’ or even, getting her sippy cup clean ‘just right’- we had countless arguments about how baby things had to be done ‘just right’- and something between us didn’t quite feel ‘right.’ We were losing ourselves in the process of becoming parents and that just wasn’t right!

baby nursery_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Our wakeup call came the night of the talk. I’d just put the baby to sleep and was doing the dishes when he walked in the door. His loud entrance must have woken the baby for I heard her stirring (I am still figuring if moms just earn this superpower, by default). I rushed to the room and saw her looking at me with her big, bright eyes. My hands were still dotted with soap and I was tired after the day’s battles with vomit, poop, endless crying, erratic hunger bouts, even more erratic hunger strikes and of course, incoherent babble I couldn’t translate to English. I knew stepping out the door, leaving her in the cot, would mean a round of crying my patience reserves couldn’t bear to appease. So, I did what anyone in my place would do. I called for my husband. One shout-out. Another. And then, another.

When he didn’t respond, I had no option but to walk out of the room and check on him. No prizes for guessing what followed. A loud cry that emptied the contents of whatever ‘bottomless’ barrel of patience they say moms are blessed with and a vision of my husband gyrating to music on his iPod! Must be the one-hit wonders from the 90s he loved so much- OMC, Smash Mouth or worse, Lou Bega. I never understood his fascination but let him throw back with his pals after wonky work hours every once in a while because it hardly hurt. Until now. Right now, I did mind.

And just like that, my pent-up rage gave away. I shouted, like I never had. He yelled back and before I knew it, the argument escalated into the most filthy blame-game I’d ever known. I shot the blame-frisbee at him with all the ‘efforts’ I was putting into it and he caught and threw it right back at my face, with little concern for whether or no it’d bring off a tooth or two. After what seemed like an aeon, he had the last words. “You don’t have to be a b*tch about it,” he said, before scurrying off to calm our baby.

woman sad_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

I stood there, stunned. For a long part of the night, I hardly moved. It must have been close to dawn when he found me, a wounded heap on the floor, lifeless and exhausted. From the whole parenting ordeal. From the un-signed for package of what being new parents entailed (did it have to be so hard on a couple who knew they were meant to be?). From being all cried out, dry and empty to the bones. He carried me inside, like he’d, the night of our wedding. He put me on the hanging chair in our balcony and wiped out a long-ish tear-trail from my cheek. I looked up at him.

“I am sorry, hon,” he said.

I broke down.

He put his arm around me and covered us with a blanket. He traced the outline of a soft snoring bundle of joy through the glass door. “We made that,” he said.

I inched closer to him and rested my head on his shoulder. “I miss us,” I whispered.

“We are still us,” he replied, holding my hand and giving my fingers a reassuring squeeze.

Suggested read: A letter to my daughter, from a father

“I am sorry I…,” I began to say. But he cut me short.

“You don’t have to be,” he said, “it’s okay. We are new with this. It doesn’t have to be this hard. We just need to remember we are all on the same team.”

And I knew he was right. We were new parents all right, but we were still a couple. And the two aren’t exclusive. We might not have much leisure time- but we have something much more powerful- the love for our kid. The life we created.

father and baby_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

And the only thing that’d take us through is kindness. Coz being new parents means being your own new beginning. And it begins and continues with every breath your li’l one takes.

As new parents, you can be your own new beginning too. All it takes is a gentle step toward kindness.

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
It Doesn’t Have To Be HARD For New Parents, It Just Has To Be KIND
It's tough for new parents as is and then, the relationship gets rough too!
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."