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Put pleasure in parenting




I watch this mother often. I see her almost everyday because the family lives close to the main road where I have to pass most mornings and evenings. And she is always holding the baby who is about six months old now. Sometimes her husband is with them and they chat as they watch over the young one.

The interesting thing is that I observed them paying the same equal attention to their first child, a boy of three years, who runs around in the streets these days.

I admit that looking after a child needs all the concentration and this couple appears to be good at it, but sometimes it takes a big restraint not to shout at them and say: “Don’t you have other things to do but gaze at that baby?”


Looking at baby from morning till night when she goes to bed-she goes to bed late these days, I have noticed too- can be very boring. But I think that gazing at baby is different from taking care of her. I think that a mother would ‘care’ like that because it may be difficult to cope with other aspects of married life and running of the home. So she puts all the energy in holding her, bathing and even feeding-all these are essential part of childcare, I know. But I am afraid they may be done mechanically without any warmth because they are seen as a sense of duty, which may be devoid of the love that should go with it.

When it is done as a duty only, baby may be the only point of connection between mother and father, as I suspect in this case.So I do want to talk to them but have not found the right way to go about.

But I am sure there are other mothers like this close to you, with whom you have a good relationship and discuss earnestly your own belief, that a woman can be a parent and also live a fulfilling life in other endeavours as well. You may, therefore, say to her that the child of a lively woman grows up to be happy. If you look at parenting a bit narrowly, this couple may appear to have got it right- father providing for his family, mother taking care of the home front, but home front needs creativity and a little imagination to make it habitable and produce bright and emotionally balanced children.

We sometimes take the saying that living for our children means giving up our own lives. But giving up our lives to care for our children has far wider meaning than giving up work or hobby. When a mother literally gives up her life to care for a child or children, she should do it without grudges and not hold it against her children in the future.

In simple terms, living for a child/children should mean that the child is given every opportunity to be a happy human being-somebody who feels secure in the right knowledge and strives to be independent. From the parents’ example, he strives to achieve in a big way, do better than his forbears so he could care of them in return.

It is dangerous, therefore, for parents to give full attention to a young one and leave them to their devices after breastfeeding or when he begins to walk and talk reasonably well. The monotonous lives of mothers like the one above tires them out early and they are in a hurry to let the child go.

Some people say that the parents themselves were brought up in this same way-father does low income work and mother is a petty trader; she may not do anything at all to have an income. The male child would expect to do the same thing and the girl dreams to walk in her mother’s steps.

We admit that a child is pleasure in himself and an absolute blessing to all, but the one who is broad in creativity and is keen to learn is fun personified; watch your toddler as he copies dance steps and tries to sing. He expects mummy to lead him as he explores his ability. Your sense of fun should not stop because you are now a mother; it should be in double fold now-we don’t say you should be a drinking mother or the one who parties until late into the night. We advocate the mum who is busy and enjoys her children-the happy mother.

This brings us to the topic of those of us who have been brought up to believe that living is all about work-grinding, back-breaking toil so that they view leisure as forbidden and sinful.


So with the negative things we have experienced, we think that the time has come to reorient mothers, teach them the importance of balancing work and play to have happiness in what she does. A stay at-home mum can breeze through her washing as she whistles a favourite tune.

What makes you happy then? You may find that it would not be a bigger purse or that highly paying job. I knew this mother of three for a while; a simple woman outwardly but one whom I thought was richly endowed. I sought to have a chat with her desperately at one time; it was not that she was not willing to appear in print but she wanted me to take permission from her husband who worked far away from home and comes late on Sunday nights. I never made it.

She was special because she was industrious; she sold practically everything in her petty trading. But the amazing thing was her big smile, which comes when she sees you gaping at her hand-embroidered curtains in their wooden home. She wove patterns like broad leaves or words like l’amour. Her joy was the pleasant reaction of anyone who saw her work. But she did not make them for money, she told me. It was a passion she did not want to tarnish by taking money or endeavouring to meet a client’s deadline; that would spoil the fun, she said.

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