14 February 2017, by Tan Li Lin
It’s been 5 months since my Little Lia was born, which makes me a 5-month young parent. The first thing that everyone asks me now is, “how’s it going?”
It’s going like this –
Me: Pass the beer.
YES. I ADMIT. I’VE BEEN ITCHING TO DROWN MYSELF IN ALCOHOL. LET MY HAIR DOWN. LET LOOSE. GO CRAZY. USE CURSE WORDS. TALK ABOUT BOYS. BLAST MY MUSIC. WEAR PRETTY STRAPLESS DRESSES WITHOUT UGLY NURSING BRA STRAPS. DO MY HAIR, MASSAGE, PEDICURE, SLEEP THE WHOLE NIGHT – ANYTHING MORE THAN 5 HRS WITHOUT MY BOOBS EXPLODING. JUST PICK UP AND GO OUT ANYWHERE ANYTIME I WANT TO. Pardon my
There. Welcome to new-parenthood, where you haven’t totally lost your sanity entirely to get it replaced with a more sophisticated one (reference my sis with 3 monsters) and the free-and-single Me still wrestles to get out of the cupboard you locked her away in.
People were right when they said to me before I was pregnant that “you’ll never be ready for parenthood”. I agree. No amount of preparation or love for children will ever make you feel you were ready for the onslaught this little ball of fat could bring you. For parents-to-be reading this, I’d advise “you’ll never be ready, but are you ready to never be ready?” Deep hor. I partook in all 3 nieces’ growing years – from the day they were born – over the last 6 years and I don’t think I was ever prepared for parenthood. Parenthood just happens to you overnight (in this case cuz Lia was born at dawn). It truly is one of those things you figure out on your own, and there’s only so much others can help. Everyday is different, new, easier, more challenging, more joyous, less joyous. It inevitably spills over into the marriage so now on that end, everyday I love my husband differently: sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes not at all, sometimes totally conditionally, like when he decides to help out with babysitting. So what does all this add up to?
Surprisingly, feeling pretty darn alive, in a non-adrenaline but learning-something-new-everyday kind of way. Parenthood demands you to step up. To stop whingeing. To put my own needs aside for a bit, but to also respect those needs more than ever in order to take care of my little maggot. Truth is, I need her as much as she needs me, and I realized that when she snuggles against my chest and I don’t really want to put her down.
Did I mention that her onslaught includes the cutest gurgles of delight, and her milkface? Just earlier, she snored and startled herself awake. Oh oh and this –
MUPPET MOUTH. How can you not love Muppet mouths?!
But apart from killing you softly with surprising cute antics, babies teach us a lot in the whole process. I often share with friends that the speed at which they learn and develop is shocking. Everyday Lia’s progression is visible – a new movement, a new vowel, a new sound, recognition, awareness, sensitivity… it often makes me wonder what happens to us as we get older where change is hardly embraced and ‘forced’ upon us every few years when something doesn’t work out. Parenthood is like holding a mirror up at yourself – every time we say or do something, it forces us to reflect on what we just said or did. Is it appropriate? is it forwarding? Is it a good example? Is it respectful? Is it encouraging or limiting? Don’t worry, it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. It appears we’re all secretly built to be able to parent somewhat. Even my husband who has no ‘Mother’s instinct’ WHATSOEVER (mothers…you know what I mean…), learnt along the way to just shut up and copy what I do and the baby will let him off easy. See. That’s smart too because, #whateverworks.
So to all my fellow parents, here’s 2 more who joined the team and have your back.
To all new and expecting parents, hang in there (like they say, it gets better, but also worse too, but the better makes up for it because you learn to laugh at the better and ignore the worse).
To all parents-to-be, GO AND BE FREE. GO. DO WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO. TRAVEL. BE ROMANTIC. BE FRIVOLOUS. BE YOUNG. You’ll need to draw strength from these moments when *fast forward* you suddenly find yourself up at 3.26am groggy and grumpy and wondering how on earth you ended up with this little human in your arms.