Ever had your bus break down and had to hitch a ride in a tractor trailer? Ever camp out overnight in a National Park in cold rain? Ever miss your train and have to spend a night in a shady ‘hotel’ room in Ratlam packed with a dozen others? All those stories are true and yet when I look back, I recall all those vacations being one of the funnest of my life. The end of year one of your first born is somewhat similar.
Ruan turned one last month and I resisted trying to pen down my thoughts simply because we were exhausted. I know it is almost sacrilegious to admit that caring for your first-born can be anything but wonderful and yes, it was. But it was almost mind-numbingly difficult; more so for my wife. Now when we look back on the year that didn’t quite fly by, we can only recall fond memories and all those nights he kept us awake and troubled us with his incessant crying are now a distant memory. But at the same time, not so distant as to tempt us into experiencing them once again. This past year not only put us on the fast track to Parenting 101 but also allowed us to discover so many things about us; patience being one of them and tempering our expectations being the other. The little joys in small steps of his progress wiped out the anxiety of the previous months. Going from months of worrying about ‘why isn’t he crawling?’ to now-constant concerns of ‘where did he vanish?’ are comical in hindsight.
Due to unforeseen circumstances and certain familial tussles, we did not have the luxury of enjoying support from our immediate family and apart from working full-time, we had to divvy up responsibilities of navigating through the first year of his childhood on our own. It, perhaps, seemed overwhelming because we hadn’t expected it to be this way but nevertheless with the exception of some bruises and scars, we emerged largely unscathed. Right from putting him in daycare at 2 months and experiencing the frequent bouts of illnesses, the unpredictability was more frustrating than anything else. Finally, at 10 months and 5 ear infections later, we got ear tubes and since then things have been progressively better; although not as drastically different as we were led to believe.
Each day of this past year, we have marveled at the tenacity and near-impossible endurance of single parents. We at least had each other, the financial resources, and the emotional support of distant friends and family, to navigate through the toughest parts. However, at the end of the day, I think, I have largely been a spectator in watching my wife plan, manage, and run the various activities involved in raising a kid. No matter how he turns out, I know right off the bat that she already has been an excellent mother. If Ruan turns out to be a mamma’s boy, I think he will be fully justified in being so. But it doesn’t help that on a social level, at least in America, being a good father means just being there; talk about low expectations.
But on the flip side, we have had the fortune to have an extremely cheerful and resilient kid. Aside from the days he has been running a fever, he has always been a happy and curious kid. He loves his books, his toys, and children’s songs, in that order. Just like his parents, he is a foodie and loves to eat everything; even the things that his parents hadn’t tried before (turnips). At the end of year one, he now sleeps through the night in his own room. When he is not feeling well, he will grumble and cry a little but eventually get himself back to sleep. We recently changed daycares and he has adjusted wonderfully giving us hope that he can manage change well. His new teachers are all praise for his temperament and eating habits so I think we have done a good job so far.
This wasn’t meant to be a detailed account of the year gone by. It is purely a personal account for my sake. You are not required to retweet, like, or favorite this.
Cheers to many more of such life-altering years.