When one becomes a mom the entire orientation of ones life changes. It is a revolution of sorts. It feels as if you have changed orbit and landed up in an unknown part of outer space. This whole feeling is compounded by the fact that new moms often look, walk and talk like zonked aliens still to familiarize themselves with the atmosphere on this earth. The most dramatic change in my behavior pattern postpartum was the habit of constantly sending furtive glances over my shoulder fearing that my kids will launch an attack from the rear at any moment! I typed my entire PhD thesis, all three hundred and seventy odd pages of it while stealing those furtive glances as a result I have developed a permanent crick in the neck that worsens in wet weather. The bad news is that it gets worse as the kids grow older. My friend Nayana rightly says, quoting Oscar Wilde or some such knowledgeable soul that if there were no schools that remove the child from the sight of the mom for some hours then the world’s mental asylums would be full of mothers! However schools make things worse too by thrusting the hapless child and hence the mother into the rat race and moms are forced to say things like-
“ explain why Hardik got eight on ten while you got only four…”
or the potent “ if you do not study there will be no TV for you for the next two days!”
or “finish your homework” followed in quick succession by “pack your bag!”, “go to the toilet!” and “go to bed!” and at the end of the exercise the mite gets so used to shouted commands that he/she refuses to budge unless some such instruction is shouted in the ear. I have to say “brush your teeth!” to my elder one every single day otherwise she will not!
Once an aquaintance at a neighbourhood park where the moms of our colony meet to exchange our respective horror stories related to childcare and studies, said that she was so disoriented and out of focus that she has to date everything from the birth of her child. For example if anybody asks her “which year did you graduate?” it will send her into a tizzy. For some time she will blabber like a moron and look here and there. Only when she first recalls the date of birth of her child will she then calculate backwards by thinking-“lets see now the baby was born in May 1998 that means I got married three years before she came i.e. 1995, and completed my graduation two years prior to my marriage…..” and such like until she arrives at the exact date. The birth of the baby is so momentous an occurance that it is difficult to remember anything else independent of it. Moms wonder at the idea that they did indeed have a life before the baby arrived.
It is much like the story of a driver my friend once told me about. The chap could only find a location in the city of Calcutta if he started from the Tata Center building in central Calcutta that is the tallest structure for miles in every direction or at least it was at the time of this story. Anyhow the result of this fact was that if the driver was asked to go anywhere in the city he would rush pell mell to the Tata center and then take the route for the desired destination from there. Thus my friend and her family were taken for long rides across the city and got a glace at the Tata Center a dozen times everyday. The child is to the mother what Tata Center was to this driver the, the anchor holding the orientation of ones life