Originally written for Gulf News: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/reflections-on-being-a-mother-again-1.1376023
Published August 2014
She gazes at me with rapt attention, her coal black eyes fixed on me. Her brow is furrowed, as though she is trying to figure out what this strange new place is. It’s a beautiful moment of bonding with her in my arms, her tiny body curled up against me. I can smell her wonderful newborn smell, and as she rubs her face against my cheek there are no words necessary between the two of us. It is love, a love so powerful, so profound that I can feel it within me.
This infant owns my heart, my soul. The tough nine months of pregnancy are long-forgotten, and the labour feels like a distant dream. I have her to hold, her to call my own. A little friend, someone I need as much as she needs me. I put her down and examine her face, trying to memorise every single thing about her. She begins to cry and I let her. For a few moments, I listen to the sound of her crying, mesmerised, before I lift her into my arms again. I feel blessed, so blessed to have become a mother again.
No one said it was going to be easy, and it isn’t. Being a parent is a beautiful, bittersweet journey, and no juncture in it is free of concern and worry. It is governed by an overwhelming feeling of love and affection, and it is something just about all the people in the world understand and experience, either as parents, or as children, or even as favourite caregivers. We do everything we can for our children, and nothing makes us happier than to see them safe, happy and thriving. Their wellbeing — it goes without saying becomes our number one priority in life. And all those years ago, when I was born, it must have been my mother’s too.
I must have become the centre of my mother’s life as soon as I was born, in fact even before it. My timings of eating and sleeping would have dictated hers, and every time I cried helplessly she would have been there for me. And just as I am the most important figure in my daughter’s life right now, my mother would have been in mine.
As I grew older, her appreciation, advice and guidance meant everything to me. But now as I am busy playing the role of a mother myself, I wonder about my own mother, forgotten, gone to a better place. She doesn’t feature in my life except as a lingering memory, or through an occasional dream. The woman who did everything for me and loved me only as a mother can — I can now do little more for her than pray for her. It is only after becoming parents ourselves that we realise just what our parents did for us. My father too, did everything he could to shape me into the person I am today. The man who celebrated my first steps, snapped photos of me when I smiled in my sleep as a baby and was generally just a great father — why is it that I don’t visit or call him more often? Am I so busy being a parent that I’ve forgotten my own?
How I wish I could hold my mother’s hands one more time, hug her and tell her I love her. What wouldn’t I give to see the expression on her face when she met the baby? And my Dad? I feel fortunate that he’s around. It’s time to call home.