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A tale of two lives
April 11, 2013 COMMENT comment
     
A tale of two lives
Arti Jain
 
There are two lives every parent lives – one pre-baby and the other postbaby. And once you step over the threshold, there's no return... Once they enter your life, your previous life and a lot of "ideas" about parenthood go flying out of the window. Most parents, to lesser degree or more, have to eat crow.
 
Who says there's only one life? Parents often feel that there are two for them, the demarcation being the baby's birth. Parenthood is a permanently altered state, a bit like Hotel California: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." You can't step back into pre-baby life ever after stepping over to the dark side. While everyone has a cursory understanding of what being a parent involves, you are unlikely to know what goes on at a day-to-day level until you have to roll up your sleeves and scoop the poop.

It's not important if you accidently stumbled into a maternity gown or you planned the little one's arrival to a tee. Once they enter your life, your previous life and a lot of "ideas" about parenthood go flying out of the window. Most parents, to lesser degree or more, have to eat crow.

In pre-kid days, one looks at parents fretting over the 4 S's - Sh*t, Sleep, Sustenance and Studies, and wonder what the fuss is all about. They seem hapless, tripping over themselves trying to keep both their brains and their brood together. We shake our heads and tell ourselves that there has to be a better way to do this. We promise ourselves that we wouldn't let parenthood overwhelm us this way.

In crisp contrast to the confidence of yore, we now walk around half bent, balancing a spoonful of mush carefully, begging for the little one's attention while she turns away from us and tosses around freshly folded clothes. While earlier we were shocked and appalled when our parent-friend mentioned, very casually, the exact nature of their baby's poop, we now pause before discarding the diaper and in all sombreness ask ourselves if the contents should go into our mental notes as greenish yellow or yellowish green. While earlier a friend's insistence on sharing photos and concerns about her child would make us stifl e a yawn and maybe even surreptitiously look at the watch, we now can't wait to hang up on a friend who tells us about her love life in excruciating detail, so we can go back to the bedroom and make her giggle uncontrollably.

In a few years we will stay up all night filling out nursery admission forms and stagger into office the next day looking like a zombie. We will chase the kid around the mall courtyard while she finds it hilarious that she can pull her hand out of our clasp and run loose. And then soon enough we will worry ourselves sick over the kid's Facebook friend who seems a little kooky. Through all of this we wouldn't pause to think about how we must appear to our friends who don't have kids. You guessed it, we would seem hapless and we wouldn't even know it. The transition into life number two would be complete.

Why would anyone choose life number two over the more sane life number one? It's simple. Some people jump off airplanes, some aspire tirelessly to get to the top of their profession, some decide to circumnavigate the earth. Sanity is relative. If you think about it, no matter what you choose to do, and if you decide to do well, it will lead you far away from your previous life. Parenthood is no different. It's about our desire to make life stretch out a bit. Raising a human being is one of many ways of doing that. And while it may not look like it on the face of it, parenthood can be quite thrilling. It sure is a hell of an adventure.

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