She heard him wail... She opened her eyes groggily and looked at her bedside clock. It had barely been an hour since she had fed him!! What made babies so hungry so often? All they did was to sleep all day anyways! She thought she’d buy earmuffs now.
She trudged towards the cradle. She picked him up and brought him to her breast. He gurgled hungrily. One look at his beautiful face, and all her irritation vanished. A smile came upon her face. “You greedy boy,” was all she managed to say. She was still looking at his innocent face, secure in her bosom, when she drifted into a dream.
She saw the bank where she used to work. She was walking in, dressed impeccably as always. She saw her clients, she saw herself smiling at them. She saw her fingers dancing on her keyboard as she punched details into the customer databases. She saw her boss applaud her, call her his prize employee. She saw her colleagues looking at her with admiration and envy. Oh, how she enjoyed the attention she got. She recalled last years Annual Celebration Day when her boss had presented her with the ‘Best Employee’ trophy, telling the audience that he couldn’t imagine working without her assistance. She was beaming with joy that day.
Suddenly, he began tugging at her long hair that was hanging loose. The dream was over. He had to be burped, and she thought afterwards she’d check his nappy too. And then put him back to sleep. She hoped to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep after that. She couldn’t remember when she’d last slept for more than four hours at a stretch.
As she rocked her son to sleep in her arms, she tried to recall what her life was like before motherhood happened. The days of girl-talk, appreciation at the bank, of romancing her husband, those weekly dates they went on, those fashionable clothes that wouldn’t look good on her almost misshapen body anymore... all of that was a distant memory now. She had almost forgotten where she had kept her favourite sketchbook- it was probably buried under the piles of baby stuff that now filled her home- diapers, toys, clothes...
Life used to be so different just a couple of months back. The arrival of the baby caused major upheaval, even though they were so well-prepared. Her past life seemed like another century altogether.
She had taken her son to the bank last week. She was surprised to see her old colleagues still busy with their work. Nobody really missed her as much as she thought they would. They were doing very well without their ‘prize employee’. Even the boss who loved and had appreciated her so much just acknowledged her presence with a cursory smile. Life goes on, she thought...
She looked at the window with the curtains drawn. She moved them, and felt overjoyed at the sight of the first snow of the year. The streets were empty at this unearthly hour. She told her son what snow was, and whispered into his ears, “You and I have witnessed what nobody else probably has. I wish you could remember this day! This is probably our best moment together!” She looked at him, but he was sleeping like a rock.
She put him into his cradle, thanked her stars and went back to sleep. She still had some hours before he’d cry again and demand to be fed.
She did not know what hour it was when she awoke. Sunlight was streaming into her room, and her husband’s side of the bed was empty. She peered at the clock again and was aghast- she had overslept by two hours. She was confused- why had the baby not cried? She called out her husband’s name in panic. Just then he entered the room.
He was holding a tray of breakfast- toast, scrambled eggs, and a big mug of strong coffee. He used to do that occasionally just after they had married. A wave of nostalgia hit her as she bit into the toast. She almost forgot they had the baby now- it was just like the old days. Immediately then, as if he felt her thoughts, Baby decided to make his presence felt and let out a loud wail. Their romantic moment was destroyed. She got up, but her husband held her by her wrist and said, “You enjoy the coffee. I’ll get him.” He rose and went to the cradle.
It was then that she saw it lying next to her pillow.
It was a beautiful handwritten note- with scented ink on handmade paper. A single rose lay across the paper. He had written plenty of such notes to her when they were dating and even after they married. She read it. It was a one line long message.
Happy Mothers’ Day to the world’s best mother. Love, from the two men in your life XOXO
Tears welled up in her eyes. Motherhood had always been a thankless job; she had never wished her mother on Mothers ‘ Day either.
Her husband entered the room. She rushed to kiss him. Then she took the crying baby from his arms and sat to feed him. She was staring at the note while she was at it. All of a sudden, the baby threw up, and the note was soiled. She cried as she held up the soggy remains of her husband’s love (on behalf of the baby!).
She kept the note aside as she tended to her son. Later, while he slept, she dried it in the sun. She meant to keep a reminder of her first Mothers’ Day as a mother. So what if there was baby puke all over it? That’s what motherhood was all about, right? Suddenly, her feelings of neglect at the bank, those sleepless nights, those soiled diapers looked like paradise to her... She was the happiest woman on the planet...