Thursday, January 24, 2008

Three Months Since

I knew life would change after Rohan's birth, not just for me, but for Raina, P and even Pikey The Cat. What I didn't know was HOW. Here are some hows:
1. Everyone tells you having two kids is double the work. And after having one child, every mom knows what's coming when she decides to go for a second one. So everyone tells you it's going to be hard, you know it's going to be hard, you prepare yourself mentally for it, you convince yourself you can deal with it, and when it actually happens... it's still SO DAMN HARD! Yesterday Rohan barely slept all day and was still up at 9 p.m. at night. After dealing with him and Raina the entire day, I was just ready to cry. So I did.
2. The past week has been especially bad as my in-laws left last Thursday for India. I miss them. My mother-in-law would cook everyday and ask me every morning what I felt like eating. My father-in-law did the laundry religiously. When Rohan was cranky and wouldn't sleep or eat, they would accept him gladly. Mummy would coo him to sleep in the bouncer; Papa would carry him on his shoulder and talk to him. When Raina was feeling housebound, Papa would take her with him for his walk to the park. When I couldn't watch the Hanuman movie with her (Raina's latest craze), Raina would cuddle with her Dadiji. Children grow so much easier in a joint family.
3. But I also realized that living in a joint family is not for me. Eventually, I need my space. But that space comes at a price.
4. And presently, that price is having Rohan attached to me like a temporary extra limb, while Raina hovers restlessly around, being constantly shushed by me.
5. The past week has also made me realize that while I'm trying too hard to be the perfect mom for a 3-month-old, I'm trying too less to be the perfect mom for an almost-4-year-old. Am trying to dig up the patience to be a good mom to both, versus a perfect mom to none.
6. Raina LOVES Rohan; she's constantly around him, kissing him, reading to him, singing songs, talking baby talk. She wants to swing him, she wants to cuddle with him on his activity mat. And instead of appreciating it, I'm always telling her to watch out, not so hard, not so loud, be careful, he doesn't like that, don't put that on top of him, be careful, BE CAREFUL! I can't seem to stop myself, even though each time I tell her that, her face falls.
7. While Raina's an angel with the baby, she's being the devil with P and me. Hardly surprising considering the above. Two days ago, she threw a screaming tantrum absolutely refusing to go to bed. I have never heard her scream that way. It wasn't because she was scared to sleep in the dark because she started by smiling at me with a "What are you going to do now?" look on her face. She went to bed only after we threatened to put her in the garage -- and began carrying her there.
8. She's put a bunch of cream in her hair, fiddled with her medicines, refused to eat, created a mess around the house. During one afternoon nap, I found her in bed with about 20 baby wipes. The other day she was wearing three sets of underwear. Some of it's funny, some just scary. Most of it is designated to have me scream at her.
9. P and I are trying to step back from the scolding. I wish we wouldn't expect her to always be obedient and good.
10. Am also trying to get out of the house more often with her and the baby. But the weather's not been cooperating lately.

I tell myself things will get better. We three will get into a routine. Rohan will grow bigger and more independent of me. As he grows more independent, I'll grow more patient and Raina will act out less. The future will come as always, one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Playing Favorites

I've been fuming since yesterday and I know if I don't blog about what's bothering me, I will eventually start tearing my hair out. As I have just a few strands anyway (my hair's what is euphemistically called "fine"), they need protection. So here goes:

Yesterday, I was on the phone with my mom and the conversation went thusly --

Mom: "I got the picture that you sent of Raina and Rohan."
Me: "Finally! And?"
Mom (unenthusiastically) "It was nice. But" -- and here we have some enthusiasm -- "he's not as cute as our Raina. He doesn't give poses like she does, I am sorry. He looks like a gudda (doll in Hindi)."
Me (shocked and confused): "But why are you sorry? A gudda? That's a good thing, isn't it?"
Mom: "He has no expression on his face. Not like humaari Raina (our Raina)."
What? What?
Me: "Mom, how can you compare the two? Why can't you look at him just as a baby, not in comparison with Raina? Of course he's not like Raina -- he's Rohan!"
Mom: "Yes, yes. I am sorry, but..."

But what??? I just don't get this. First, the insensitivity of my own mother. The same mother who's always dramatically maintained how she NEVER MADE ANY DISTINCTION BETWEEN HER DAUGHTER AND HER SON. Even though, said son, besides being a precious male, was way cuter as a baby. How do you tell your daughter that one of her children isn't cute enough? A child who's not even three months old. Even if you're comparing that child to another of her children?
Second, why compare at all? I never got this comparison crap, and have always taken care not to compare Raina to other kids her age. Is it because my mom's heart isn't big enough to love two little kids equally?
I know favoritism exists. I've seen my mother blatantly favor Raina over my brother's little boy and I used to think it's because of the strained relationship that she has with her daughter-in-law. But now I know that's not the case. My mom -- and likely, my dad -- have just got it in their heads that they're fond only of little girls. They just don't like boys. It's senseless, especially when you think how rarely they get to see their son's only child. And they haven't even seen my little boy -- and have pronounced judgment.

I think part of the reaction also stems from jealousy. My mom was with me when Raina was born -- and stayed until she was 4 months old. This time, my in-laws are here -- and my mom, seeing all the pictures of Raina and Rohan with their Dadiji and Dadaji, has been bitten by the green-eyed monster.

Whatever the reasons, her comments really hurt my feelings. Here I was eagerly looking forward to telling her how Rohan laughed two days ago for the very first time! How he looked so cute right after his bath with his blue towel wrapped around him, all clean and warm and happy. How he smiles right in the middle of a feeding as if he's having a blast. And I'd wanted to share with her how gassy he'd been lately. How he hadn't been sleeping all day. How tired I was and how tiresome he sometimes seemed.

At least my mom's comments cured my frustration with Rohan. But I saw myself looking at him differently, hating it, but doing it anyway. Maybe, objectively speaking, he isn't as cute as Raina was as a baby. If that's true, to hell with objectivity.