Sharanya Misra

There I was, a 30 year old, unable to love the way my 16 month old daughter did. It made me realise how much of our innocence we lose as we grow up.   

(This post is part of my Mommy Moments series.)

My toddler hates her hair being washed. HATES it. There’s simply no other way to describe it. Her dislike for it has progressively escalated until a few days back it finally led to a full blown meltdown, complete with a truckload of tears interspersed with gasping breaths.

As I sat there in the bathroom, failing to convince her that the act wasn’t as terrible as she believed, I finally gritted my teeth, pushed my love aside and forcibly poured water on her head. I usually do not indulge in this kind of parenting. My approach is very baby-led. But with a bawling baby, head full of shampoo, before me, a very hot and humid bathroom and mounting levels of frustration within, I resorted to the rip-the-bandaid-in-a-go method. Undoubtedly, the result wasn’t pleasant.

She was quickly wrapped in a towel and whisked away by the Daddy with all the necessary coos to calm her down. Yet, nothing seemed to work. She was very upset. I counted to 10 as I wiped myself down, calmed my mind, and then felt the guilt engulf as I walked towards her.

How could I have done this to my baby? She never cries. Not this hard, except maybe when she gets vaccinated. But even then, she has always only experienced my support. But this time, when she was clearly scared about the water and clung to my body, she saw the same mommy just pushing her fears aside ruthlessly and pouring on the water. In my mind, I had done a terrible deed. I had broken her trust, dismissed her fears and disrespected her emotions. I pacified myself, afterall one cannot always be a perfect parent. But my heart knew that I had hurt her. I worried about how she would react on seeing me.

But when I entered the room, to my surprise, I saw her face light up with relief. Although it had been me who had put her through the ordeal, she still wanted me to be the one to lean against and calm down to. She wanted me to be the one to rock her to sleep as she struggled with the tiny gasps that still refused to let go. Every now and then she would cry a little again, probably recollecting the tough time she had just had, clinging closer to me for comfort. In a few minutes, she was fast asleep, still holding onto my hand.

I sat there next to her tiny sleeping figure and couldn’t help but marvel at the innocence of these little minds. No grudge held, no questions asked. The ordeal of the present so easily forgiven in the face of unwavering trust. I asked myself when I had last been this forgiving. When I had trusted so blindly. When I had, so purely and naturally, allowed love to overcome my ego. Can’t think of a recent instance, to be honest.

There I was, a 30 year old, unable to love the way my 16 month old daughter did. It made me realise how much of our innocence we lose as we grow up. The faith is replaced with doubts. The emotions with pragmatism. Our approach becomes calculated. Our thoughts, a little too pessimistic. So much so, that the simple act of unconditional love I had just experienced, had taken me by surprise.

I have always thought that one of the greatest joys of parenting is the opportunity of re-living one’s childhood, of experiencing those flecks of innocent emotions as we did long ago. And what a refreshing moment it was. What a moment of learning. Amidst all the practicality and ego and anger and determination that had seeped into my being over the years, amidst all the wisdom of blacks and whites and greys, I realised I had forgotten how freeing it can be to love with no expectations, how relieving to learn to let go. Life as a 30 year old was no longer as simplistic, but emotions still could be.

Tucking her in for her nap, I bent over and dropped a tiny kiss on my baby’s forehead. 16 months old, and already a teacher. This journey sure is going to be one full of learnings and introspection. I smiled.

Click here for my previous post “Parenting is a Father’s responsibility too” in the Mommy Moments series.

Mommy Moment with my daughter.

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