Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Settling into this Pregnancy

This pregnancy started out in a cloud of disbelief and happiness. After all these years of asking Vicky to agree to have another child, here we were, number 2 finally on its way, and Rahul thrilled at the thought. I saw the world in a soft, hazy glow, though that may have been from all the sleep I got in my first four-five months.

Now I'm in month six, more used to this baby, more accustomed to the happiness. Starting to take it the littlest bit for granted. The hormonal mood swings are intense. Rahul has begun to not only go around telling people that I have a baby in my tummy but also that this is the reason I am so angry and so sad so easily. When he was a baby I fretted a little because he took his time talking but at times like these I really wish he never did start to talk.

I'm also finally relaxed enough to completely loathe Vicky for doing this to me. He knew I would never be able to say no to a baby. Why not allow me to get all this over and done with in my twenties? What kind of a husband makes his wife go through all this in her old age? I'll be thirty-two when this child is born, the age when I had planned to retire from motherhood and get back to the swinging single life. Instead, there go my thirties too. Also, really, the next time he wants a child, let him carry it himself or adopt. As always, everything is his fault.

What has completely thrown me though is his response to my attitude. When I was expecting Rahul and easily upset by small things, he was very unfeeling and often rather cruel. This time around he has his off days but mostly he's running around getting me snacks, rubbing my back on request, patting me soothingly when I burst into tears yet again because of something utterly nonsensical... and so it goes. He is never this nice to me. It's making me rather suspicious.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

[CSAAM April 2014] Letting Go to Keep Him Safe

For the fourth time now, we're hosting Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month all through April. As we geared up for the emotional investment and learnt slowly to detach from the horrors we dealt with each year, as our children grew and our fears for them changed and also grew, each year taught us something new.

I start April 2014 with the resolve to not let fears of CSA make me a paranoid parent. Rahul is seven and a half, and there will soon be another child to watch over and fear for, and I cannot afford to let fear rule my life now or ever. From the very start I was very aware of how his gender would not protect my son and in fact, in certain ways, it could possibly make him even more vulnerable to abuse than a daughter. I talked openly about my personal experiences with CSA in the family, and one of my best friends wrote about her own abuse and suggested ways to help keep our children safe. Rahul grew older and I adapted my ideas of safety. CSAAM even made me re-think some of my favourite books in light of the questionable age gap in certain relationships. My last CSAAM post was a subject very important to us all: how to keep our children safe online.

I'm still adapting my notions of safety, as I mentioned before. Now more than ever I'm trying to learn to let go. In recent times, here are ways in which I've tried not to fetter my child:

1. I've let him walk off with strangers (with waiters, for example, into restaurant kitchens), into public bathrooms without any supervision.

2. He occasionally answers the front door -- though only after we give him the go-ahead from upstairs, and only if it's for a person he recognises, such as the maid.

3. He's gone to parties without us, to homes we don't know, filled with other children and adults who are strangers to us.

4. I encourage him to make requests in public places by himself, such as when requesting a cashier for service. Sometimes this means he is out of sight for short whiles.

5. I no longer panic if I can't see him every time I look up when we're outside.

6. He went swimming and played for hours in the lawn while we napped in our cottage, while on holiday last weekend.

In other words, I'm learning to trust his instincts. He is not a child normally given to walking off with strangers without at least coming to let us know where he is going and who with, so this makes our job that little bit easier. If there is one thing that CSAAM has taught me so far, it's that the best way I can protect my child is to let him develop his own judgment of who to trust and how far. As a parent I'm aware that these are but baby steps by me so far, but hey, it's progress!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Little Jem

As an impressionable teenager I read about Anne Shirley/Blythe's oldest son, Jem, bringing her the first mayflowers of each year. It was a little ritual private to them both, and when he was away at the Great War, her second son Walter (just thinking about whom makes me want to bawl) brought her the flowers instead. I sighed over the pages and dreamt of a son of my own day.

I knew I would have a daughter, of course, in my own image, and also infinitely better, but I also wanted a son. I dreamt of a quiet young boy, biddable, obedient, intelligent and very sensitive to his world. I don't know about quiet or biddable, but Rahul is immeasurably intelligent and alarmingly sensitive. He is also satisfyingly grubby, annoyingly whiny and rather more charming than I like to acknowledge.

He also gets me flowers. From when he was a tiny tot visiting my parents at Moore Avenue and he'd pick up the closed kolke flowers on his way home each evening for me, to the flowers he picked from the bushes lining his way home from the school bus-stops in Lake Gardens and Kalikapur. He grows older but the flowers keep coming, always for me, and then occasionally for somebody else as well. On my request he no longer plucks them (or so I hope!) but he gets the ones that have fallen from wherever he finds them, and remembers to bring them, wilted and faded, to me whenever he sees me next. A few minutes ago he promised me that he would always get me flowers.

Dreams come true, you know. Just rather grubbier than you'd expect, but still very satisfying.