Last weekend I heard one of SA small screen celebrity dad talk about how he wished he had read a book on how to raise a first child like a third born before he became a father.
I could relate and I bet a whole lot of other parents out there who like me couldn’t sleep for weeks after the birth of their first child, in fear that something terrible might just happen to the poor child while they shut their eyes can relate too.
When I had my first born six years ago, the idea of leaving him at home in the care of a maid when he was three months old to go back to work seemed preposterous and sheer torture to both the helpless baby and the mum.
Had it not been for the compelling need to generate an income for the many new costs that come with an addition to the family, I would have gladly stayed at home, not forever of course because I am simply not cut out for that, but a lot longer to bring him up. Instead I compromised and eased my guilt by taking him with me on most work trips for the past five years.
I remember coming from a workshop in VicFalls with him when he was six months old. I also remember clearly how he cried the whole time on the 45- minute flight from OR. Tambo to Gaborone. I definitely remember the piercing looks that some passengers who simply needed their peace and quite on that flight gave me.
And then I remember my friend who had two kids that she often left with a maid and her younger sibling at that time saying to me, “Wait until you have your second child and then you will know how I do it.”
I did have my second child a year and seven months later and although things did get a lot more complicated when it came to travelling, having to carry one on the back and another on the hip always made me some kind of a spectacle to watch every time I boarded or disembarked an aeroplane.
But in another sense things did get easier, as I came to realise that indeed children are much more protected and taken care of by God and I therefore didn’t need to watch my children all the time, apparently a fear that many new parents suffer from. I could relax and even travel for a few days leaving them at home in the care of someone else I trusted without feeling too bad. Missing them terribly, yes, but scared and worried that something bad might happen to them while I am gone, definitely no!
It turns out that dealing with small children and being a parent is a skill like any other and, despite logistical challenges, it does get easier on many levels by the time another one arrives.
Screams that used to send me running to the play ground with panic to check what could have upset my son so much, don’t do it anymore because I have picked up the skill, as any mother would after a while, of telling the difference between the real hurt cries and attention seeking screams, for example.
As time goes on you realise and accept that it is only a passing phase. You will sleep again after all, and you might even be able to find it easier to fit into the programme some great sex again as time goes on and you prepare for the third born whom I hear is quite a breeze to raise compared to the first two.
I am yet to find out.
Anybody with experience to share on the subject can write to firstname.lastname@example.org