Just when I thought I had outgrown kids and their paramountcy in my life, that I was now free do my own ‘thing’, I became a mother all over again.
My twenty something son and my college-going daughter got two brand new siblings, fresh from a litter of the most adorable seven cocker spaniel puppies.
This was motherhood part 2. It is no different from motherhood part 1 on at least 10 counts:
#1 Bringing a baby home –It was unacceptable to leave a dog alone in the house for hours on end or in day care due to professional commitments. Just as it had been unacceptable years ago to hand over my babies to a nanny or a crèche. So, having reached an age where one can live for oneself and hang the world, I chucked my full-time job and found part-time work from home. Of course, the work-from-home (even before Covid) was not as stimulating, for I had loved my job, but the hands-on mommy-ing was generous compensation. Once again, I took a career decision without a single regret.
#2 Of puke and poop –From puppyhood to adulthood, these babies will have you plan the day around their walks, pick their droppings up in newspaper packets, wipe clean the occasional puke and the little behinds, and maintain a hoard of baby wet wipes, cotton, delicate cleansers. Toilet training is a big achievement, and many a conversation and furrowed brow is all about frequency, consistency and colour of puke and poop.
#3 Feeds – Introducing new food, keeping eating implements squeaky clean for fear of microbes, becomes familiar again. Meal times are sacrosanct and the mental debate is always whether you have found the right mix– kibble or fresh food? Protein through paneer, chicken or daal? Which list of what is good for your baby to follow? How do you vary the daily fare so that it doesn’t become boring? And why is that little morsel left in the bowl?
#4 Sleepless nights– At first it is the early days of crying and whining that keep you awake; then it is the middle-of-the-night yaps when toilet trained pups want to be let out every three hours till their bladders grow up; and there will be the night of worry and watch as the adult baby is ill and uncomfortable as you soothe her and wonder whether to rush her to emergency in the nearest doggie hospital. Those who share beds with babies know the skeleton-defying contortions of the backbone to accommodate bundles curled up against tummy and back.
#5 Medicines and doctor on call – Once again, a separate drawer for baby medicines. Vitamins, calcium, digestive, ear drops, eye drops … Depending on #2 and #3, medicines are added and removed. The vet is on speed dial. Anything untoward is cause for panic, sometimes calmed by the confidence to handle it at home with grandma’s remedies, but very often leading to reaching for the phone to make an appointment. Even if serious health bumps are few, any health issue means anxious and constant watch and unbidden dark ‘what if’ thoughts.
#6 Grooming, accessories, and toys – You have a colourful floor now – balls, chew toys, ropes in various hues of the rainbow lying about. Let’s not forget the variety of combs and brushes, the sprays, and the bandanas and collars (with name tags) in that huge basket tucked away on a shelf groaning under its weight. Your social media feed is full of targeted ads for these. Your most relaxing moments of the day are combing your babies, and you become a child again as you bathe your babies in the sun with a hose splashing water over them.
#7 The social calendar – You will either refuse invitations or, if you go, you will leave a part of your heart behind. You want your babies to grow up well-balanced, so there will be play dates. You will seek pet friendly resorts over the fanciest seven-star hospitality. You will worry if your baby seems withdrawn just as you will be ready in a flash to save her from an aggressive social encounter. If you are the parent of a girl, there will ‘those’ times of the year when you will keep an eagle eye on wheedling acquaintances of the opposite sex.
#8 Embarrassment – Despite all your efforts at disciplining, your babies will make it seem as if you have not taught them basic manners in company. They will bark uncharacteristically loudly, jump all over, and behave as if they don’t know you or recognise that same tone and look you thought you had trained them with.
#9 Baby talk – Not only will you develop a special language to address your babies with but you will also lapse into that before others. You will assume the whole world is interested in your babies and their pursuits and will talk about little else. Heaven forbid if you find another parent of canine babies! The conversation will be indecipherable to non-parents.
#10 The emotional quotient – is indescribable. The melting pair of eyes, the touch of soft fur, the tight snuggle, the modulated bark to get your attention and the complete trust and unconditional love are no less than the gurgle, the coo, and the little fist clasping your finger. Yes, there will be moments of irritation and exhaustion, but never enough to challenge the joys. Gradually you will recognise how your baby is an individual in her own right, with likes and dislikes, quirks and balances.
If you have more than one, you will learn it is never one size fits all. Your babies sense every little mood of yours and act accordingly while you learn a new language of communication, without too many words but full of heart.
About the Author: The writer Trivikrama Kumari Jamwal loves to be known as a parent – a parent of two energetic spaniels who run their own blog at https://poochpickles.blog/ and of their elder human siblings who run their own lives.