Pregnancy is a wonderful emotional experience. The idea of ‘creating life’ fills you with a melting pot of emotions, so intense, that it is hard to describe. But that pot also includes ladles of anxiety and fear of the unknown – and in my case an extra dash of gripping anxiety of raising a child without the extended family. That African proverb – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – was the stuff nightmares are made of for me.
Our home was filled with love
There is no book and no amount of advice that can prepare you enough for what is to come. I felt like that clammy handed girl outside the examination hall who had just forgotten to look into half the syllabus. The first four months post the birth of my son, Azad, I was surrounded by parents and in-laws and a whole bunch of friends and family. Our home was filled with love. Diaper changes, sleepless nights and feeding sessions drifted into oblivion. And one day, suddenly, as if unannounced I woke up to find myself and my hubby standing alone with a baby in hand left to fend for ourselves. The clammy handed girl and nightmares returned – they made the ‘Return of the mummy’ to office and my so-called normal life seem impossible.
It takes a village
My husband and I finally decided that it was time to complete that fear inducing proverb. Life has thrown quite a lot of lemons, let’s get creative and make the best lemonade we can. Here is our version of the proverb:
“It takes a village to raise a child. If you don’t have a village, create one. “
What a triumphant feeling that completion gave me! How did I manage to create a village you ask? Pop culture advice by my favorite band, The Beatles. When you create a village like the Africans, you are essentially creating a close-knit community filled with love around you. So, we asked ourselves – what makes a group of people a family after all? I’d like to believe The Beatles wrote and sang that song way back in 1967 out of some premonition that millions of mothers like me would look up to them for a simple yet profound advice – what makes a family? All you need is love!
Our quest for love
And thus began the quest for love. It has got to be the easiest challenge I have faced for Love is everywhere. We found it in oodles amongst our friends who didn’t even blink an eye before responding to our distress calls when we needed a change in our environment filled with diapers, milk bottles and an overwhelming feeling of everything baby. Our home was quickly filled with familiar laughter, jokes, and the sound of “Awww he is so…. (fill in whatever adjective that fits for babies). We found love in truckloads within our apartment complex. Early morning walkers smiling back as I trudged along with Azad in his pram and the dogs jumped around Azad to express their excitement. The elderly doled out much needed snippets of wisdom while the children induced amusement in Azad’s eyes as they played around – our lives were filled with love. Soon we found heartwarming love at Klay too! This was to be Azad’s second home – a place that has watched him learn to sit, crawl, stand, walk and talk. A place that has taught him about emotional experiences that have helped him grow into that loving 2 year toddler that he is today.
I am glad he has learned that a hug and smile is all that is needed to bring a smile to those who surround him.
So let’s take the time to celebrate families – not just the ones with whom we share our ancestry but also those families that we share our emotional experiences with. After all, families, no matter how they are formed, constitute the very core of our lives.
P.S.: The mummy did return to the office after all. The office is my second home and Klay is Azad’s second home.
Written by Rachna Gothi – Mother of Azad Gupta
With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.