For the last week, Baby A has been down with the flu. When that happens to me, I like to curl up in bed with a book and demand that my husband answer to my every beck and call. Baby A, on the other hand, vehemently fought off this cultural response and continued to waddle along and poke her curious little nose into every nook and cranny of the house (and elsewhere). It took me an hour to pick up her medicines from the pharmacy, because it turns out that if you’re carrying a diaper bag, a purse, a bag of medicine and the poor decision of the latte you desperately needed after the screaming and shouting at the doctor’s, your toddler will recognize that you cannot carry them as well and will toddle in the opposite direction of the car until you dump your half drunk cup of coffee.
Things took a turn for the worse when the flu gave her an ear infection and the antibiotics an upset tummy. For the cherry on top, I caught the flu from her. As any mother will tell you, the only thing worse than a sick baby, is a sick baby and mama. Instead of curling up in bed with a book, you take your cough and runny nose and get on with life. The baby is held, comforted and rocked as you blow your way through tissue box after tissue box. The baby’s meals are cooked and when she refuses to eat and just flings everything on the floor, you drag your tired, exhausted body and clean up the mess because if you left it for the maid to clean up the next morning, your toddler would trample over it, drag it into the bedroom or worse, eat off the floor what she had refused to eat while sitting on the table. Shudder. Then you debate with yourself whether or not your should drag an already sick child to your doctor’s and finally convince yourself that there is nothing that a few cups of ginger tea and a few nights of 6-hour sleeps cannot cure.
Don’t get me wrong. Despite the countless calls to my husband begging him to come home early, hell would freeze over before I let any of my child’s needs go unmet. I would spend a hundred nights putting pieces of cool wet cloth on my child’s forehead to bring down her fever, if I had to. So would billions of other mothers.
Mothers, I have come to realize after I became one, are cut from a different cloth, or perhaps another layer is sewn over them once they become mothers.
My mother called me late one evening, after Baby A had retired for the night. After a long day at work, I had come home to feed, bathe and put the baby to bed and when my mum called, I was preparing lunch and snacks for the little one’s nursery the next day. After a brief distracted conversation, my mother remarked, “You know that you’re an amazing mother, right?” I replied, “That’s the only kind of mother I know how to be, because it’s the only mother I ever saw.”
This Mother’s Day, I write to say thank you to my mother and to all the other mothers in the world, who work tirelessly, educate relentlessly and love selflessly. As I write, I hope that one day when I’m telling my daughter how amazing a mother she is, she gives me the same reply that I gave my mother.