Thursday, March 29, 2007

Suddenly, mommy!

Being two-and-a-half means that baby n is now aware that she has her own body, and is free to come and go as she likes. She’s been becoming more aware of that since she learnt how to walk; realizing, slowly, that she is mistress of her will and her legs. That awareness makes her happy, of course, but it also leads to some nervousness. You see, in her pre-walking state of mind, she and mommy were one – in true Hindi-filim style, carved out of one body, attached first at navel and then breast, never to be parted. So now along with the freedom of mobility that she celebrates comes the uncomfortable knowledge that mommy too has the same freedom, and can come and go as she likes.

When you’re three-feet-high and just learning to articulate your feelings (which means yell-storms every 45 minutes and contests of wills), this is a rather overwhelming thought. So n is worried about me in particular and all mommies in general. Does the goose in Jogger’s Park have an amma? Where is she? Does the pigeon have an amma? Where is she? Does Noddy have an amma? Does the child in the picture book? Anything that looks young and vulnerable, must be accompanied by its mother. Then the universe will be a safe place for babies everywhere, and n can relax.

And it’s not enough for the mom to be in the same frame – as in a picture or on tv. She has to be involved, doing whatever it takes to make n feel that the baby is safe. Like we have this xylophone-cum-book in which every page has the notes to a song, which is also illustrated. Sometimes she opens it and ‘plays’ each song, moving briskly and fairly tunelessly from one to the other. Last night I caught her staring worriedly at the picture of a song called Lullaby and good night, thy mother’s delight. It showed a mama bear who had apparently just finished tucking baby bear into his bed and was smiling down at him, affection oozing out of every anthropomorphic line.

So I asked, “What happened?” and she replied, “Where baby bear’s amma?” And I pointed to the ‘amma’ bear and said, “Right there.” So she stares at it some more and then asks, “Where she going to sleep?” Of course. Now I know what’s upsetting her. For someone who sleeps wedged prophylactically between her parents, the thought of a mommy ‘putting’ her baby to bed and then walking away is a crazy, nightmarish one. Especially as we all know that night is the time when 1. it’s dark. 2. bad dreams come, 3. there’s that scary thing called the moon lurking around!

Speaking of co-sleeping – or not – I spent a good year pondering over the Western concept of letting babies sleep alone. I swayed between ‘What a wonderful idea!’ and ‘How completely barbaric!’ It doesn’t work for me, but lucky are those who have the stomach for it!


@ said...

I've been lurking for a while, but couldn't resist commenting when I read the co-sleeping bit! hurrah! I have found another co-sleeping advocate :) from the little I've read here so far, your daughter seems sharp and highly perceptive - to ponder about other mommies and why they are not 'involved' -that is profound!

Space Bar said...

exactly. and now my son's nearly seven and he still sleeps with me. soon, i'm going to feela little fraked out by this and insist he sleep on his own, but i can see myslef doing the dtory till he falls alseep thing for a good long time. not that i'm complaining!

surabhi said...

sanah sleeps in a seperate crib which is next to our bed. that is when i am not too tired at the end of the day to clean out the freshly laundered clothes dumped in the crib- along with everything else i am trying to keep out of sanah's hands. so basically every second day she is with us- kicking the daylights out of us.

am insisting that hansu bring me over to visit you and n! this interaction in cyber space is both liberating but i guess i am too used to conversations over chai.

Space Bar said...

totally agree, sur. anita, we have to meet next time i'm in mumbai.

oh...that asterix comment got shewed up, hanh? blogger funny sometimes...

The Mad Momma said...

oh we co-slept erratically.. and then finally my son moved permanently to his crib at around 10 months, right next to our bed. at 20 months i moved him to the next room because i was pregnant and i was more shattered than him.. i completely agree that it is rather barbaric... and i keep looking for opportunities to sneak him back to our room though he doesnt really care... sigh