As I held the soft, warm bundle that were you, my heart just filled with this overwhelming, melting, oozy feeling that I have never ever felt before. A feeling of intense love for your tiny being, a feeling of complete bewilderment that your perfect body grew in my own, a fierce desire to protect you from all the evil in the world – a combination of all these and many more. Oh, and relief too, when the neo natal doc pronounced you healthy. Even now, when we laugh together over a shared joke, I look at your crinkled eyes, your wide smile and all of a sudden, think back to the moment when I held you for the first time. I can still feel that moment of wonder when I realized I am a mother to this tiny being in my arms. I remember I turned to every single person in the delivery room as I held you gingerly, and thanked them profusely. I thanked them for giving me you, a little pink bundle of perfection.
You are fifteen today. Almost a woman. Yet sometimes, when I enter your room to wake you up for school or swimming practice, I see in your sleeping face the baby that your daddy and I brought home. I move your hair and plant a kiss on your cheeks. You smile a little, in your sleep. Perhaps, even in your state of blessed unconsciousness, you feel my love?
You were born on a Thursday, the day of Goddess Lakshmi according to the Hindu mythology – the goddess of wealth. As we brought you home from the hospital, the landlady of our apartment in Delhi, stopped me to see your face as she thrust in your tiny hands an envelope full of money. She said, ‘Lakshmi has come to you on a Thursday!’ Your dad and I laughed.
Your dad boasted while you were still nestled within my body that he is an expert in babies, coming from a family of six siblings. I, being an only child, often expressed doubts about my abilities to keep a baby alive. I admitted I was clueless and all the books I read provided only theory. Your dad said, ‘Don’t worry, I know everything about changing diapers, bathing new borns. I will teach you!’ I, having never even seen or held a new born, believed him.
Then came the time to bathe you, for the first time. I handed you over to him and sat nervously watching. His hands were shaking and you were slippery. It was clear he did not know what to do with you, despite his bravado 🙂 . I almost died a thousand deaths in those few minutes in the fear that he will drop you. After five minutes, I could not bear the agony any longer, I took you back, ‘I can do this. I will do this!’ He handed you back and I cleaned you – fearlessly. As I look back, I realize motherhood came to me naturally. Taking care of you became my second nature, I did it with ease. Your daddy was of course, a huge help.
Your daddy and I decided to be with each other for many reasons, we discovered we completed each other in many ways. You, my dear girl, brought even more joy in our lives, than we thought was even possible. I have so many happy memories of the two of us sitting around you and watching you for hours, laughing over your facial gesture, gently sliding our finger into your closely fisted little fingers, tickling your tiny little toes and marveling over your belly laughs. I still can hear it!
We suffered from the agonies that all first time parents suffer from. We analyzed every cry, we tiptoed to your room when you were sleeping to make sure you breathed. We debated and read everything we could lay our hands on whether to lay you on your back, on your tummy or on your side when you slept. We asked innumerable questions to veteran parents and got patronizing and indulgent smiles. We proudly held you out for people to admire (you were really a very cute baby) and I frowned inwardly when people wanted to hold you. I antagonized a few family members by asking them to sanitize their hands before holding you. I really didn’t care what they thought. Your safety from germs was my primary concern.
You grew like a sunflower nourished by all the love not only from your parents, but your grand parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, friends and teachers. People near and far loved you dearly and enriched your life with their happy presence. And you enriched theirs with your baby talk, toothless smiles, curly haired cuteness.
You made us parents for the first time. We learnt to be a parent by making mistakes with you. We learnt to create boundaries, we learnt when to give in, when to stand our grounds.
At fifteen, the worries remain for us. The reasons have changed. The overwhelming love that we feel for you for just being YOU remains, sometimes due to the conflicts that love is perhaps not as evident to you. But that first overwhelming intense love that we felt when we first held you follows you around faithfully. It will always follow you as long as we live. We do not sometimes, and may not see eye to eye always, but the love for you is permanent.
I want you to grow up and soar high with that knowledge. On your birthday, and for ever, do know please that you are intensely loved and lovingly cherished. I hope on your birthday, you will take a few moments to feel the love that surrounds you, make it a part of your essence and then when you go out to the world, spread the love on. We all know the world desperately needs it.
Happy birthday, my love, my dear, dear girl. Spread your wing, you will always have our love to fall back upon, if you so need, as your safety net.