Parenthood – A Seven-Act Play

Act 1: The Exhilarating Thought

The first stage of parenthood begins when the desire for having a baby is born in the heart of one or both the parents. In most cases, it is the woman whose maternal instinct begins to assert itself. Women don’t feel complete until they become mothers. So, when the biological clock starts ticking, you decide to take the step of ‘making babies.’

Stage 2: Conception and Birth

You know you have conceived when the familiar signs begin to show that include missing the period followed by morning sickness. You wonder how you will go through it, but when you feel the living presence inside, you know it is all worth it. The slight flutter turns into a kick, and you love it.

After some time you get used to those kicks that become more frequent by the day. There are times when the sheer physicality of it bogs you down. The backache, the swollen ankles and varicose veins make you wonder why you got into it in the first place.

Then, you feel the time has come. You reach the hospital puffing and panting, totally oblivious of what lies in store. It seemed it will never be over, yet when it is, it appeared to be over in a jiffy. The excitement of a baby makes you forget the pain as though it never happened at all.

Act 3: Packed Days, Sleepless Nights!

The first few days are frenzy. You lose count of time in the midst of sleepless nights, sore nipples, and dieting to lose all that extra weight. But that angelic smile from your baby makes it worth it. You discover her afresh every day. She is more interesting than anything you have experienced so far.

Each little step in the growth of your child is more exciting than anything you have ever known before, whether it is the first time she discovered her toe or the first time she sat for a few seconds. Then crawling, standing, walking, articulating something that resembled a word – everything is so exciting. You write it down in the baby book with pictures and all. You feel a sense of achievement that calls for a celebration.

Then you begin to sing nursery rhymes and tell bedtime stories

And suddenly it’s time for the first play school. You send your child nicely scrubbed and dressed to school with mixed feelings – happy and worried.

Phase 4 Playgrounds, parties and alphabets.

Then your cuddly baby gets busy with friends in the school. What the teacher and friends say is gospel truth.

Toilet jokes – everything and anything to do with pooping and peepee is absolutely hilarious!

Their first best friend, and first rejection. Scraped knees in the playground. And, of course, their first “it’s not fair!”

How hard it is to let them go – but you can’t protect them from everything.

Stage 5 – Serious Schooling

Then comes the stage of serious schooling. Your child has to learn the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. This may be fun and games for her or as difficult as scaling mountains. Whatever it is, you have to be patient and helpful, encouraging her at every little achievement. These are natural differences and should not worry you unnecessarily.

But, there are some things that become lifelong memories for all parents because each child is unique. Yet, each child is like all others when it comes to certain things like losing teeth or wanting Christmas presents for instance.

Also, don’t forget to discipline your child; she is no longer a baby.

Act 6 – Pre-teens and Puberty

Now, the difference between girls and boys becomes apparent. They all go through the phase of discovering changes in their body yet girls will be giggly and boys more cool.

Clothes. You are just SO out of date mom! No one wears that anymore! And why should it matter if my pants are hanging down by my knees? Mom, these clothes are too small!

Language. Well cool.

Help her through her first bra, her first period, her lipstick and makeup, her awkwardness and so on.

Stage 7 – Dates and Parties

Suddenly boys and girls are not so alien after all. Does (s)he fancy me?

Now, parents take the backseat and friends become all-important. Suddenly, parents know nothing, and they know everything.

Parents are out, friends are everything. So is music and fashion. And late nights. “Aw mum, why do I have to be back so early – everyone else is staying until 3 am!” Oh yeah? Are they really?

Yet, if you are accommodating, you can have an amazing conversation with your new young adult. It is very essential if you want to make sure they don’t go overboard in following their peers. But, be careful; don’t even try to lecture them or you will lose their attention.

You will be surprised how soon this phase is left behind. A couple of experiences help her see substance in what you have been telling her all along. She emerges a wonderful human being full of lofty ideas and beautiful dreams, but perhaps not so confident and wise.

Stage 8: Letting Go!

All these years of parenthood had become a habit. You went through each phase happily and not-so-happily, but your life revolved around them. Then, one day, they’re gone! But, you still worry and hope for them.

Robert Munsch has put it rightly: “I’ll love you, forever. I’ll like you, for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be” –

Time flies. Live every moment as though it is the only one. Enjoy your baby all along the way.