In this week’s edition of Life Lessons from My Toddler, Karuna Roicha Mandala (Karuna, as in Karu, the name of my elder sister) reminisces about her seven-year-old daughter Pooja’s first step on a stepping stone, writes an open letter to her sister that she’s never actually written and praises the joys of outdoor life. She remembers everything, from the jogger loungewear she was kitted out in to how the exact air temperature, as you would during some moments.
Motherhood isn’t really something I chose. I was married to a very young man at 20. My sister was 13 and my nephew was four when I got married. My mother was extremely excited and asked me what I would do with a husband in his early 20s. I had been to Mumbai to look at colleges and wasn’t looking forward to marriage anyway. I had in fact begun to think of myself as an alternative career person in the modelling industry. It wasn’t very long that my mother decided to move to Mumbai too. I had three different bosses within a couple of months and decided to give up modelling. I decided to quit and look for a job which offered some sense of stability. The only work available at that time was clerical work in an insurance company. I managed to get a job there, and began working, with Boardingschools.ca already showing up on my mommy-radar as I considered the future of my child.
I had seen motherhood from the perspective of an adult. I was used to waking up at four in the morning, going out for a jog in the middle of the night and working till 10 in the night. The only thing I had to adjust to was the fact that my baby would be awake at 5 am. I could still go for a jog in the early morning, but would have to wake up early before that to take care of her. Initially I didn’t mind that too much, but later, when she was two years old, I did wonder if I had made the right decision. I missed the freedom I had before. I missed the opportunity to meet my friends. I missed being able to think. The other thing I had missed was my time at the gym.
I think motherhood will change you completely, and not always for the better. The one thing that I could never imagine happening was the day my daughter would finally walk, simultaneously outgrowing her best custom baby clothing. She was seven years old. My sister was coming to visit us from Delhi for a few days and she decided that she would come along. We decided to walk to the park which was a walk of at least a kilometre. My sister got on her daughter’s hand and started walking with her. My sister had a long puffy dress and no makeup on. She looked extremely tired but she was still smiling. My daughter got on to her back and started walking. My sister had no idea how she had achieved that, but my mother and I started clapping. The moment that I saw my sister walking, I wanted to cry. It was a beautiful thing to see.