As one moves from school to college to work life, one’s social circle only gets bigger and bigger. There’s always an old friend to catch up with, a co-worker to hang out with or a relative to pay a visit to. Marriage just adds to this bag. Your spouse’s friends, cousins and colleagues expand your Facebook friend list to new heights. Birthdays, festivals or just weekend nights- you dress up and let your hair down.
And then you have a baby.
Suddenly, your social encounters take on a whole new avatar. Some friends call you over to chill out. Your mind floods over with questions… by what time will the evening end? Will there be a separate room available where you can feed the child? Should you dress up your baby in a full-slleve shirt, in case the air conditioning makes the room too cold? Is the diaper bag packed with everything you might need? Are you carrying spare clothes in case of spit-ups? Phew….! Sometimes, it just seems easier to stay home. Yet, you had resolved with your partner, before the arrival of your child, that you will not let your lives get impeded by a baby.
So you take in a deep breath and commence preparations. There was a time when you would have carefully selected your dress for such an evening. You would have wanted to wear the new neck-piece you had purchased. A fancy handbag and footwear would have complemented your outfit. Now, you look for clothing that would be convenient, since you will be hitching the little monkey all over the place. Accessories are carefully tucked away, lest the aforementioned creature decides to dangle off your earrings. Heels and sandals lie unheeded in your wardrobe, while you slip on your most comfortable pair of shoes.
The time to step out arrives. But it is preceded by a mini-disaster. A suspicious smell leads you to discover poop in the baby’s pants. While you’re cleaning him up, he manages to pee in such a way as to wet his clothes. By the time you’ve changed him into a fresh outfit and diaper, your hair is askew, your makeup is streaked and your shirt has a patch on it that you don’t want to know more about. Your baby, meanwhile, continues to look utterly innocent.
You arrive at the host’s place looking like you just braved a cyclone. While everyone coos over how cute, sweet and quiet your child is, you mutter under your breath. “Why don’t you keep him for a while?”, you suggest. People evaporate from around you as if suddenly reminded of other important commitments. You barely settle down with the baby on a sofa when he starts bawling. Guests turn around and look at you suspiciously, their eyes insinuating that you must have done something to upset the child. The evening wears on. You try to hold a conversation while your little chimp tries to climb up your head. You remember the child has another parent and pass him on to the father.
Ten minutes later, they are back. The baby is hungry. Again. Only you can help him. You sit all by yourself in a separate room, feeding the child, while you hear your friends laugh, drink and dance. Someone suggests a game. You want to play, but by the time you head out, the winner has been declared.
By 10pm, dinner is announced. You are starved. But your baby has had enough for the day. He decides he wants to be rocked to sleep. “OWAIIIIIN”, he wails into your ear. Your partner and you take turns in eating your meals- one gobbles his food down, while the other tries to calm the frantic child. By the time dessert is served, you decide you’ve had enough and you take your host’s leave.
You reach home exhausted, vowing never to attend another social event.
The next week, however, is a community event or a wedding or a celebration for a festival. And you don’t want to miss being there. You had, after all, resolved not to let a baby bring your social life to a standstill.
So you take another deep breath and set off all over again!
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.