One of the side effects of turning 30 is the massive number of babies around you. It’s endearing and annoying in equal parts. Almost all of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues have a child or two. A whole bunch of them were born recently. I have witnessed some of them grow old, heard their stories and seen their numerous pictures and videos. And it’s exhausting. I just can’t seem to share the same amount of excitement about babies and children as their parents do.
There is no denying the fact that babies are cute, with their little hands and feet, big eyes on soft little chubby faces and smiling pink lips. They can be fun when they start growing old. The kids have a pure soul and a beautiful positive energy. But I am not sure if I enjoy their company.
The obsessive parents are more difficult to deal with. Their stories usually just start with ‘my son’ or ‘my daughter’. Gradually, a name is introduced to the conversation. For a brief while, a name is the only connection I would have with the child. In some cases, I don’t even remember the name or the gender. There are so many of them around me that I lost track. With passing time, however, those names begin to take shape into a person with a set of preferences and a distinct character. It feels like I know each of them intimately through the animated stories told by the parents with a joyful spark in their eyes.
The little stories of the little ones follow the same pattern but the colors change as per the personality each baby takes on while growing up. The stories of sleepless nights taking care of the babies turn into the stories of their charming naughty acts and then move to the apparently difficult school management. One fine day I realized I am not indifferent anymore. Most of the stories are still boring and repetitive. But suddenly the main character has a name and a personality. Without actually being there, I saw them grow old. I became a small insignificant part of their story… as a member of the audience. It can get overwhelming. I still have phases of indifference. My interest in babies varies depending on my mood.
The intriguing part of this experience is the reflection on the concept of time and aging. My life hasn’t changed much in the last 12 years or so. I have had my share of fun and adventure. I have had periods of movements and a variety of interesting experiences. But the essence hasn’t changed much. So my sense of time and my own aging has been twisted. But when I see a child who was a little baby three years back, I realize the extent of power three years can have on us and everything around us.
This feeling and sense of time might have been present on some level in my life. But I felt it strongly only last week. I had been shopping for the last two months for two of my dear friends who are expecting babies. I took that long because I don’t really know much about babies or pregnancy and I am not quite sure what would make a good gift for an expecting mother and a baby. But I know my friends well. So the thought of an appropriate gift would often wander to my memories with them. What would she like for her baby? How would she like to decorate the room of her baby? What kind of clothes she would like her baby to wear? What kind of fun activities she would do with her baby? I didn’t make a structured list of such potential questions and answers. But when I was in any shop looking for an appropriate gift, my thoughts would go to the mother as much as to the baby.
I didn’t realize this pattern of thoughts until last week. When I finished buying everything, I sat down to pack my gifts. My work table was overflowing with gift items and sundry packing material. I was admiring my packing skills; feeling elated at the choice of my gifts and wondering how my friends might react to these. In that moment, I realized the time and age we have covered together.
I still remember when we were young girls and I would hear them talk about love. I would occasionally give my views even though I had no experience of a stable relationship. I still don’t have any but that’s another story for another time.
I met one of them at 18 and another one at 23. It feels like a different lifetime. How much we have changed and grown since then! I remember the long morning and evening walks where we discussed love and life; and our opinion of men and relationships. I remember the time when they fell in love and when they decided to get married. Both of them are now expecting a baby. I can’t seem to let go of the image of their younger version. They are still full of life. But now they are also to-be-mothers.
Very often you don’t see your own life pass by. The time becomes real only when you enter a new phase of life. And sometimes you become aware of the passing time when your near and dear ones enter a new phase of life.
I feel an uncanny sense of joy with the very thought of them holding their little ones. The memories of the times to come will be as precious as the memories of the times that went by. Those little things suddenly made me see time and life in a new light.