Having a little one can change you in ways you never imagined. Even the cold hearted ones like myself. But what you never expect is all that they can teach you.
1. Perseverance.There is something interesting and almost inspiring about seeing a little 4 month old trying to grab that colorful noisy bumble bee hanging above her on the play gym. She will stretch, grab and let go, roll around with resolve, stare it down, reach for it completely uncaring about the limits of her little limbs. But she won’t let it go. She will make it happen. Be it days or weeks, eventually that colorful bumble bee will be rustling in her hands as she grunts her satisfaction. That my friend, is pure perseverance. It is a ‘let’s do this’ attitude if there ever was one. She knows she can do it. She WILL do it and there isn’t anyone or anything that can stop her. So why is that when we grow older, we find that the bumble bee is too out of reach? We give up too soon because it seems a bit impossible? Maybe 4 month olds are onto something here.
2. Patience. She has none and I had too little. But if this relationship was to work, we had to reach a middle point. A compromise. So now she has a little less than none and I have oodles. Compromises are great aren’t they?
3. Changing the way you look at things. There is something about looking through the eyes of a baby. She can stare out of windows, at construction happening, smile at strangers without hesitation, watch cars go by, laugh as you talk nonsense, look in awe at the glittering interiors of Dubai Mall and never get bored. When was the last time you did that? But when you see your baby do it, you’re intrigued. What does she see? How does it make her feel? And then you begin to remove the nonsense from your own eyes, the jadedness, and look afresh. Isn’t it amazing? The ordinary can be made extraordinary; it’s just how you look at it.
4. Complete and utter lack of ego. It’s so refreshing to see this new human look at strangers without any preconceived notions. Without an ounce of judgement; just pure curiosity. She can stare without shyness at strangers and then smile the moment the eyes meet. Isn’t that beautiful? And you know what? Anytime she has smiled at someone, they’ve been quick to smile back.
5. A renewed love for music and dance. There is something so fun about introducing your favorite songs to a little one and watching her reaction. Sometimes theres a smile, sometimes theres a ‘what the heck is this?’ look. But you end up listening to these songs and imagining how it would be listening for the first time.
6. And a brand new love for the old stories. As you read the 3 Little Bears or Princess and the Pea to her, you realize how much you miss your childhood. And how lucky you are to relive it. The way she gurgles in response makes one revel in the simplicity and beauty of the old stories and how fun they are, especially re-read and shared.
7. Unbounded joy. I mean when was the last time you smiled while taking a shower, enjoyed the water, splashed around a bit? Sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it? But isn’t it amazing? Or giggled while trying to roll over? Or shook you hands with excitement at the sound of a key in the door? It’s the small stuff that matters yet as we grow up we forget that and keep looking for the grand gestures or moments to move us. Wouldn’t it be nice to laugh, just because?
8. Self Improvement. Something about having a little girl looking up to you makes you question yourself. It almost comes down to ‘Will she approve?’ You want to be a good person. To be kind. To not hurt anyone. To say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more so she can follow in your example. Suddenly, you can’t be that cut-throat, brazen cool guy/girl. You are carving a life. You’re sowing the seeds for the future. You’re being looked up to. Better get your act together.
9. A love for naps and a reassessment of the amount of sleep needed. You know when you’re younger and then when you’re working, sleep is GOLDEN. It’s all about clocking in those 8-9 hours or you know you’ll be an absolutely useless the next day. But then you have a baby and you realize, maybe you don’t really need that much sleep. You can function on 2-3 hours right? Those eye bags that now boast their own beautiful shade of black-brown are actually quite attractive right? And the unkempt hair is actually in fashion, didn’t someone mention bed-hair? Or something? And as months pass, you miss sleep less but you LOVE naps more. There is this secret fluttering in my heart every time I get 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon. It’s as if I have defied nature, as if I reckoned with the forces that be, and had a good shut eye. It’s almost naughty but oh so satisfying.
10. A closeness with family you never had before. I’ve always been close to my family, but then seeing their love for your little one is a totally different experience. The Skype calls increase, the laughter is doubled and everyone wants to be around your little one. It feels good to know she’s loved, not just by you but the ones you love.
11. Love. And protectiveness. One that you’ve never felt before. It’s like this other person emerges from within you. And this person is a martial arts expert, with a touch of ninja and a dash of samurai. You’ve got your armor ready and you’ll don it the moment your little one needs you.
And of course, she teaches you how to be. Forget the lists, forget the emails, the cleaning, the chores, the friends. This moment is all you have. And it’s moving so fast. So forget all you need to do, and just be. She teaches you this. To just savor in this moment. Right now.