This is January, 2009, and it’ll hopefully mark the rite of passage of my Copy-kitten (the younger daughter) from Terrible Two to Tolerable Three (the elder Lil Cat is, thank God, a Slightly-more-sensible Seven). Numerous A-B-C books scattered around the house in various states of disintegration have made me realize that I have also been forced to relearn my A-B-Cs since 2001. Life has completely changed (as in shaken up, turned upside down, gone round the bend and never come back, done cartwheels, been on a roller-coaster) ever the deceptively quiet swaddled bundle was placed in my arms by the doctor (twice over).
· A is for AMAZEMENT – that’s my usual reaction to life, post-motherhood. I’m amazed at how quickly kids grow (including nails, hair and feet) and learn (say a four-letter word in front of them and see). I’m amazed at how long they fight sleep off (when you’re dying to sleep but daren’t) and how swiftly they do fall asleep (while you are lying wide awake beside them).
· B is for BOTTLES – why do we have to sterilize them when the BUNDLE OF JOY is happily licking walls and chewing shoes without falling sick?
· C is for CRAWLING - the CHILD crawls for six months and then begins to walk; the mother is forever made to crawl under beds and tables to search for anything she needs – from CLOTHESPINS to CASSEROLE LIDS.
· D is for DIAPERS – environmental hazard; maternal help.
· E is for ENERGY, and EXCITEMENT and EXPLORATION and etc – the EXCESS of which leaves you feeling like a squeezed-out dishrag.
· F is for FIGHTS – whoever said that siblings learn caring and sharing has made a right royal FOOL of us.
· G is for GAMES – with complicated, ever-changing rules but one certain ending – an all-out fight.
· H is for HOME – which can be HELL or HEAVEN depending on whether the kids are awake or sleeping.
· I is for I-Me-Myself – that part of life which has almost been bulldozed into non-existence.
· J is for JUMPING – from beds and window-sills and chairs and other places that make your heart JUMP right into your mouth.
J is also for JUNKFOOD – the only edible thing kids eat quickly (refer L).
· K is for KISS – that slurpy, sticky, noisy ummmm-aa kiss that makes all the hassles worthwhile.
· L is for LUNCHTIME – which begins at noon and goes on till night.
L is also for LEFTOVERS – which is every mother’s main source of food.
· M is for MOTHERHOOD – what a MAD, MESSY, MIXED-UP ride it is!
· N is for NO – the most frequently used word to answer any question – “Are you hungry?” “Did you break the jam-jar?” “Did you hit your sister?” “Aren’t you mama’s good little girl?”
· O is for OTHER’S – which is OBVIOUSLY more preferable than whatever belongs to self. This includes sister’s schoolbooks, mother’s purse, dad’s cellphone and friend’s tiffins.
· P is for POTTY – that POWERFUL god whose colour, consistency and frequency (or absence) of appearance dominates your daily conciousness.
· Q is for QUIET – and peace and calm and serenity which have quite disappeared from your life.
· R is for RHYMES – don’t dare to mix up Mary with the little lamb with Mary who was contrary or the audience will fly into a RAGE.
· S is for STORIES – reading which is compulsory before the kids go to sleep. I always curse anybody who gifts the kids fat STORY-BOOKS, because they have to be read aloud from end to end (miss a page and they’ll SPOT the cheating immediately) at one sitting.
S is also for SHOUTING - which is the only way of getting kids to hear you.
· T is for TANTRUMS – those kicking-screaming-throwing-things fits that smart kids use for maximum impact.
· U is for ULCER – a side-effect of motherhood, along with migraine, hoarse throat (see S)and backaches.
· V is for VOMITING – you get used to see it all over the bed, all over your clothes, all over the place. It is another weapon in the kids’ arsenal, scold too hard and they’ll VOLUNTARILY vomit out their food which you took so much time and patience to put in them.
· W is for WHY? – that dreadful question which kids keep asking WHEN you don’t know the answer (and also WHEN you do); motherhood is all about being chased by unending WHYs.
· X is for X-TREMES – the kids are always extremely hungry, or extremely un-hungry, extremely devilish or extremely angelic (which only makes you extremely suspicious), extremely wide-awake (at bedtime) or extremely sleepy (at feeding/studying time).
· Y is for YAWN – kids can yawn and blissfully fall asleep; moms can only yawn, sigh and move on to the next chore.
· Z is for Z-Z-Z – the most precious thing for all mothers, who are all seriously sleep-deprived, all the time. Even if it is only the kids who are z-z-z-ing, it’s a welcome break, because it gives you time to get things done, like I am doing now.