Time and again we hear the sacrifices of the mother. How the mother feels a special kind of bonding with her child, how she alone knows what is going on in the deep recesses of her child’s mind, how she ‘knows’ how much upset/happy/disturbed/thrilled/betrayed/sad/top-of-the-world/bottom-of-the-world the child is feeling just by one look at the face or even by hearing the voice from seas across, and how she is the ‘communication channel’ between the child and the Daddy (as said in the lovely lyrics of a poem written by a thirteen-year-old son for his mom decades back which I was lucky to have a glimpse at because the accomplished son’s mother, an accomplished lady who has been in association with reputed schools across India and is in the management committee of a reputed Bangalore school, was generous enough to share with me) – all because mom is the one who had the umbilical cord as the connecting link between her and her child at some point of time and which is still strong, though invisible now, by virtue of having existed in the past.
But do spare a few seconds – Doesn’t a father too today occupy a significant part of the child’s world? Well, a father too has an umbilical cord tying him to the child – this one isn’t the usual kind the doctor gets to ‘see’ during the child’s birth, this one is virtual, but very real too. This post is for the daddies out there. Just because they aren’t talked about doesn’t mean they haven’t been contributing much – many of them begin contributing from the ‘delivery day’, while the others from the day mom’s involvement in the child’s academics isn’t enough any longer. Have a heart, clap for the fathers too!
The umbilical cord has been cut, bringing to an end the physical connection between the new mom and the newborn. But, along with the birth of the baby, it’s also time to celebrate the birth of a new bond – invisible and very strong, the emotional-and-psychological bond between mom and baby. Where is the father here?! He cannot boast of any of these bonds. Does that mean he is nowhere in the picture during the birth of the baby and immediately after that? Well, not really.
Right from boosting the morale of the mom-to-be in the delivery room waiting for the big moment to supporting the mother in baby-care, the father is there. To talk about my own experience, my husband was the pillar after my son’s arrival to the world. Suffering from colic, my first-born routinely cried and screamed, turning red, as I clenched my fingers and thought hard if there was anything we could do to alleviate his pain, tormenting me every time his face was racked with pain. It was my husband who began taking us out in the car, baby and me, driving round and round the neighbourhood during those times (colic pains visited our son mostly after sundown) and miraculously the crying would stop, providing the much-needed relief to my frayed nerves! All thanks to Internet where he had searched to come up with such novel ways of handling colic attacks.
And when within a week, our little Advaita was found to have dust allergy with even the cotton mattress inducing severe cough, it was the father again who sat sealing the mattress inside a plastic cover with stitches all along the border, till the wee hours of the morning, I supplying with only little help, intermittently.
The new father, delirious with happiness, would definitely have loved to lend a hand in the regular baby-care matters like feeding and preparing his feeds (Advaita could not suck properly initially and often ended up being half-fed only if he had got paternity leave. My husband made up though by religiously dedicating the evenings to baby-sitting no matter how tired he was after the long drive from his office through traffic-congested roads.
When my daughter was born, the born-again father was now a much busier man, but managed to give me enough support at the hospital and once again, after a gap of six years, devote the evenings to the new baby with the same, familiar dedication. And this time he even played a mother to our son (who felt more left out than thrilled with the arrival of a sibling, that too a sister, to his disappointment initially) by taking him out and treating him to zoo visits and restaurant food just the way I used to before I got heavily pregnant with our little Diya.
Well, that was definitely a big leap from the times of my mother-in-law whose husband visited her at the hospital two days after their first child was born, lest he earned the label of ‘a too-doting father’ from the neighbours (those were the prehistoric days)!
When a baby arrives, a father is needed as much as a mother is – not only for the baby but also for the new mom who too needs to adjust to her new life as much as the baby needs, in fact even faster. With his love and affection and enthusiasm, my children’s father had bound himself with the rest of his family with a different kind of umbilical cord – this too invisible and very strong!
Also Read : Involved Fathers