My little Baby Bee turned a year old today. She slept well last night, ate her food without spitting up, and did not kick up a fuss when I tried to put her down for her afternoon nap. Apart from her surprising reluctance to speak on the phone and her insistence on unravelling all the clothes her father was so diligently trying to fold, to help me pack, she’s been a delight. So as I write this, it’s hard for me to say anything but that the year gone by has been all peachy. Well, it hasn’t.
But that’s the most amazing thing about being a parent: You forget. You forget everything almost as soon as it’s fair enough to say it’s in the past now. Tantrum at the breakfast table? Oh, but she’s such a delight at lunch, said tantrum never happened. She slept really well last night? Oh, but she’s kicking up a storm now, so I haven’t slept in forever. Yes, you simply forget. And the forgetting starts as soon as you learn you’re about to be a parent. When you’re pregnant, you can’t seem to recall what life was like when you weren’t pregnant. When your belly’s huge, you can’t remember ever having been able to see your feet. When your baby arrives, you just can’t recall what life was like without a baby. Like now, when Baby Bee’s trying to walk, and she can climb up and down chairs, sofas, beds, everything on her own, I can’t seem to remember there was a time she couldn’t even roll over on her own!
The other amazing thing being a parent teaches you, is cleaning up. I took a break from writing this post, so we could take Baby Bee out. The idea was to take her to the beach, and we were recommended a resort in Beirut, which was supposed to have its own beach. Turns out, the only water we could access was their three swimming pools. Five minute into splashing around in the kiddy pool, little Miss spat up on her father’s shoulder. This was dealt with some dexterity on Daddy Bee’s part. Later, at dinner (that she was sleeping when we got to, but woke up because this young boy selling roses insisted on placing one in her carry cot and we didn’t have the heart to stop him), she pulled down the bread basket and spilled the bowl of oregano-olive oil all over herself. So off we went to the washroom, which wasn’t a baby-friendly one at all, with a tiny little sink, where she was given a wash down and changed and cleaned up. But my favourite story has to be of her first flight, when we had a poop explosion soon after takeoff, and I spent most of the flight washing clothes in the tiny aircraft loo. I’ve cleaned up in buses, moving cars, the Zara trial room, just to name a few others. So yeah, anybody who ever accused me of being a slob can please retire now!
Then, you learn how not to sweat the small stuff. You stepped out of the house with mascara on just one eye, ah well! In another lifetime, I would’ve somehow fixed it or cringed about it. But with a baby, you just put your game face on. Baby Bee managed to pull apart the cover of one of her favourite books (all my ‘new’ books look like they’re 50 years old, too). The old me would’ve thrown a fit and vexed over it. The parent me is just glad she loves to hold and feel and look at books. Food on the floor? No biggie. At least she enjoys feeding herself. You start to view everything from a ‘how does it work for my baby’ prism.
But the one thing being a parent doesn’t teach you, but that we as parents need to learn, is to be kinder to ourselves. And this is really hard for most parents, especially moms. Most of us struggle with it. I’ve struggled, too. But here’s the thing: It’s hard enough being a parent anyway. We don’t need to make it harder on ourselves. We all want to be ‘Supermom’. But if there’s one thing I learnt, there’s only so much you can do. Don’t shy away from asking for help. Because people, in general, are not kind to moms. Whether it’s an unsympathetic co-passenger on a flight or a judgmental family member or a ‘well-meaning’ friend. People are not kind to moms. You’ll be either over-involved or too negligent. You would’ve either let yourself go, or you’ll be too self-centred. You’ll be either too controlling or you’ll be controlled by your child. Everybody has an opinion and you can never win. People are not kind to moms. But your babies are. They will always be. And that, really, is the best part of being a parent. Like a friend’s two-year-old told her, “Mamma, you’re a good boy!”