Expectation – Idly walking in and out of the shops in the mall and casually indulging in some therapeutic window shopping while your toddler naps in her stroller, thereby allowing you to leisurely enjoy your overpriced, decadent toffee nut latte. People peep into the stroller and coo cute nothings to your sweet little sleeping baby. You flip your hair and exclaim that she has always been such a good little child who never troubles anyone. You finish picking out some cute pieces till you decide you have spent enough money and it is time to head home.
Reality – Pushing a Carrefour trolley down the vegetable aisle at top speed, with a screaming toddler perched on the trolley seat in front of your face, who is trying to reach out and grab every chocolate and balloon in sight. People look at you disdainfully, while you studiously ignore them and focus on your goal i.e. finish grocery shopping and reach home before nap-time. No, nap-time CANNOT be missed. How else am i expected to function as a normal adult, without that one measly hour to myself?
Expectation – Relaxing spa session, with aromatherapy and reflexology massages planned over the span of a full 90 minutes. Somebody kneads your tired body in rhythmic, relaxing strokes while you lay down and let your mind drift off, subconsciously listening to the soft classical music playing in the background. After which, you are cozily swathed in a terrycot robe and made to drink green tea from tiny teacups while reading the latest issue of Vogue.
Reality – You stand under the shower and let the boiling hot water wash away your worry and despair at how many things need to be done, and how little time you have to do it in. You increase the shower pressure in the hope that it will drown out the incessant screams of your toddler, who is frantically knocking on the bathroom door and demanding to be let inside. Ten minutes later, you know you have overstayed your welcome. It’s time to exit the bathroom and get back to the real world. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Till the next scheduled ‘spa session’.
Expectation – You throw a couple of exotic ingredients into the food processor and in return receive a homogenous smooth bowl of healthy yummy baby food. Your toddler is waiting eagerly in her high-chair, eagerly anticipating the delicacies you will be presenting to her shortly. Meal time is always filled with laughter and jokes. Your child eats up every last morsel on the plate, all the while smacking her lips for more. You feel satisfied and satiated at the nourishment you have provided your offspring. The meal is completed with a cup of warm water to wash it all down and to aid digestion.
Reality – It is WAR. Me vs the toddler. Both sides put up a damn good fight. Who will emerge victorious in this battle of pure grit and nerve? There is plenty of hair pulling and kicking (by one party). There is plenty of screaming and crying (by both parties). Pasta pieces are flung in the air. Vegetables meet a grisly end when spat out on the floor. Rice is made to rain everywhere. Cheese that was carefully chopped into uniform little cubes, are squished together like mud-pies. Crunchy treats and chips are offered as bribe. Aforementioned bribes are rejected with evil laughter. Few mouth-fulls are sneaked in with the aid of the trusted Ipad (Well done, Steve Jobs). The entire pandemonium ends with me muttering, “Will you at least just drink some damn milk instead?”. The war is temporarily called off. Peace prevails. Life goes on.
Expectation: You tuck your toddler under the blanket and kiss her good night. Lights are dimmed and her breathing becomes a rhythmic, soft snore. You tiptoe out of the room and head downstairs to the couch to enjoy that long overdue glass of wine.
Reality: You tuck your toddler under the blanket and she yanks your hand indicating that she wants you to lie down beside her. You oblige, because unconditional love and all of that. “Song Mama?” You start with her favorite nursery rhyme, only to be rudely interrupted with “Story Mama?” So you launch into the same story you have told her a hundred times every single night. Upon completion you quietly peek into the little face next to yours, only to realize she is still wide awake. This is then followed by her loudly naming every single family member and me providing her the assurance that they have all gone to sleep and hence, so must she. This seems to satisfy her, until the dog next-door starts barking loudly, so she sits up in fascination. I grit my teeth and curse the dog and his owners under my breath. Ten minutes of coercing her to lay down and we have a semi-sleepy toddler who flops down on to the pillow. “Poopoo Mama?” What follows now is understood and i shall not delve into details here. Twenty minutes of tummy rubbing, cuddling and shhhh-ing later, you can hear that her breathing has become a rhythmic, soft snore. You tiptoe out of the room and head downstairs to the couch to enjoy that long overdue glass of wine.