This post was lying in my draft since before Fearless was born. Posting this with a few edits.
When I was single and my friends weren’t, I used to always wonder, seeing them talk for hours on end on the phone with their respective beloveds, what on earth did they talk for so long and so much. When I asked them, all they said was, “You will understand when its your time”. I found my beloved all right but we both never really spoke on the phone. Even when we met face to face, there wasn’t really anything much to talk about. And I still wonder when people talk so much on the phone – what do they talk so much? Once in a blue moon, ok, I understand. But everyday, three times a day, for hours together? Guess I’ll never know.
Moving on to the “controversial” topic which this post is actually about. I was part of a joint family in my early childhood and one of the best things I enjoyed was looking after my younger cousins from their infancy to toddler-hood. There was atleast one new baby each year to look after and I myself was around 5 years when I started to look after the young ones. I had the freedom to help with bathing the babies, to wrapping them up in towel, to going around with loban (sambrani) after bath, to making formula milk and feeding, to changing their clothes to putting them to sleep. I loved the smell of babies and the sound of their laughter and their cries. I loved their small hands and feet and the way they held their fist when sleeping. I loved to see them making those baby noises and I loved to see them shudder/shiver in their sleep. I loved those toothless smiles and soft hair and the innocence they embodied in their tiny being. I could sit and look at them for hours and not be bored. Seeing them I have often wondered that everyone was once a helpless baby, an innocent baby. All the babies were so much similar in one way and yet a completely different personality from one another. Its a nice feeling. Once we all grew up I was missing the babies. Until my friends had their own. Although I did get to hold them at least once even if it was just for a few minutes, I could feel the same warmth in me. And then someone said, its very different looking after another’s baby and looking after your own. And that had me thinking… is it really?
I agree there are some differences. For one, I don’t have to go through the pain of labor and delivery. I don’t have to breastfeed and I don’t have to lose as much sleep as the one who gave birth to the baby. I had always thought I would adopt a baby. Apparently that was not to be. But imagine if I did. Would I not look after the baby as my own? If, for any reason, a friend left her child with me, would I not care for it like my own? Would I not love and protect him/her enough? I know the answers to these questions. I do not see me doing anything differently with either child – mine or another’s. I know people will tell me that I don’t know what I am talking about. But don’t I, really? Weren’t my cousins and my friends’ babies mine enough and yet another’s? Is giving birth to a baby all that’s required to call myself a mother? Do I really need a baby to have my own flesh and blood, to give him/her love and care? Do I really have to raise him/her for “x” years before I could be called a mother? What if I felt the same love towards a dog? Not mother enough, eh? And if I were to expand this to love and care for my friend, my neighbor, a stranger and feel a strong need to protect them, am I not a mother? If I were a guy, and all the above points were still valid, would I be any less of a mother? Or should I say, father?
If a person can feel tremendous love towards another being, I think the whole world can and will be transformed. Everyone should be a mother/father, irrespective of having birthed a child or not. There are so many creations in the world, just pick one and start loving. If one is not enough, pick a 100. I’m not saying go give a 1000 bucks in charity, I’m not even saying you should adopt kids. All I’m saying is that one should look at another being with love, the kind of love you would direct towards your baby…that innocent, happy baby. That said, let us not make it a “woman’s job” alone. Everyone can be a mother, irrespective of gender. To have another being to care is a wonderful feeling and a blessing. Let us not create more walls with petty things like “your baby, my baby and their baby” in a world that already has more walls than bridges. Enjoy your life, spread love, be loving.