On Fathers and Daughters

On Fathers and Daughters

One night, I was sitting on my bed, my 3 month old baby girl playing in my lap throwing her hands and legs around in an increasingly more fluid and less robotic fashion. The room was dark but there was enough light for us to see each other’s faces. I could see that she was looking right at me while I kept bringing my face down and placing the tip of my nose on hers, like I love doing all the time. She brought her hands to my face and started exploring my cheeks, pulling my hair, rubbing my beard and grabbing my nose, like she had recently learnt to do. Somewhere during this little episode, the realization hit me with an intensity like never before that I was now a father of a girl who I loved so much that it was impossible to describe. Just to look at her playing calmly in my lap gave me a sense of happiness. It felt like I was in a deep state of meditation, in a cave far away from the rest of humanity, and it opened my mind to thoughts I never had before. I was discovering how much I loved my daughter. Right here in that moment, perhaps she was learning to love me too. I was her window to the world, but did she know that right now? I realized that there is something special about a father-daughter relationship that only fathers and daughters can understand.

It is incredibly difficult to know the heart of a father, I realized. Mostly because society talks more about mother’s love, fatherhood gets a distant second mention. Mind you, I don’t think any less about mothers. After all, they go through nine months of pregnancy, then a painful and potentially life threatening delivery, and then years of the child being stuck to them for physical as well as emotional nourishment. It is a huge task and my respect for mothers has only increased with our own experience. But what about a father? What can explain the way he falls in love with a baby who is still in the mother’s womb, months away from birth? He, who accompanies the mother-to-be to the midwife clinics every time and remembers to ask the important questions which she herself would be too nervous to remember. He, who stands by her for dozens of hours while she is in labour, encouraging her to go on. He, who sees the baby’s head and her body come out into the world. And he who then stays awake for the rest of his life so that he can protect them both from the very same world. And finally he, who decades later stays calm and takes charge, while the mother loses herself crying and howling, when that daughter leaves them for her new life with a new partner.

My chain of thoughts is suddenly broken as my 3 month old darling daughter scratches hard with her nails right next to my left eye. In the dark, I know she can see my face and the tears that had just fallen from my eyes. Is it just her innocence or is she telling me not to worry right now? After all, she has barely learnt to move her limbs and there is still a long way to go. I lift her up, hold her tight to my chest and kiss her on her cheeks, and then on her forehead while she continues the exploration of my face and neck with her tiny hands. We sit there like that for a long time as I learn what it is like being a dad to a girl. I used to think that fathers are furthest in the chain of emotions, but holding my little girl in my arms, I question how that could ever be true. I know now how my dad feels about my younger sisters, even though he never shows it, and how much they really must love him back. I know how much my wife loves his father and how much my mom her own. That I am now myself part of this sacred relationship makes me feel special, enlightened.

So, I look down back at my darling daughter and tell her what every father tells his daughter, ‘Nitara! My dear Noni! Papa loves you.’

How life has changed since the Baby

How life has changed since the Baby

One immediate consequence of having become a father was that it took time away from the things that I generally enjoyed doing before the baby arrived. I loved to read lots of books, write this blog, learn Swedish, and watch Netflix with my wife. Soon after my daughter was born, I did continue to write this blog for a while, though with lesser frequency and they were mostly delayed posts. Then, at around 3 months after the birth, we decided to take parental leave for 6 weeks and visit our family in India. This break, I was certain, would give me time again to be able to do the stuff I was starting to miss over the last few months.

So, we prepared for the travel and I kept notes about our preparation so that I could write a post about it soon. However, I stayed in India for over 6 weeks but not once during that time did I get the opportunity to write a single post even though my mind was bursting with things that I really wanted to write and publish here.

So, what happened? Why could I not do the stuff I really cared about doing for my entire holiday? A few things actually. I realized that neither did I have the time away from my darling daughter (by my own choice) nor the frame of mind to detach myself from her exciting world to be able to do some writing. I could spend entire days, weeks or even months being by her side, watching as she kept trying something new every now and then. She learnt to reach out with her hands and touch and feel my face. She started to grab her toys and then try to put them in her mouth. She tried to roll over on to her stomach but kept failing for many weeks, until she finally did it and then started crying when she couldn’t move back. I saw the first time she saw something funny on my t-shirt (I always wore cartoon prints) and decided to try to crawl to get to me across the bed. She pushed hard with her legs to move forward (a big development) but had no idea how to use her arms and as a consequence of this lack of coordination, she would raise her bums in the air, dig her face into the bed and end up rolling over to one side and onto her back, wondering what went wrong. And I watched with fascination, when even in a state of hunger, she would break her feed and turn her head around to stare at the TV in our room, and then back to the feed and again to the TV, over and over.

On top of that, only a couple of weeks into our vacation I fell sick to Typhoid, which ended up making me too weak to sit in front of a laptop for more than a few minutes at a time. It took me the rest of the vacation period to overcome the illness.

So, due to the reasons stated above, I suddenly realized that I had not been able to make a single post on my blog for over 2 months. So many things had happened in my life as a dad over the past few months that it was now difficult to keep track of all the developments. When my darling daughter transitioned from being a quiet observer to learning to make tiny “a-goo” sounds to call us and then on to filling our ears with her shouting and singing – all in order to amuse herself – seems like a recent blur.

Over the next few days and weeks, I will try to come up to speed again with my writing, the reason being that I am back to Sweden without my wife and daughter – but only for a short while. Next month, I bring them back here and then the routine perhaps would resume and I might find myself short on time again.

So, one thing that I really did learn from my experience until now is how the arrival of a child changes the lives of the parents forever, whether it relates work, social life or just personal preferences. You suddenly realize that you can no longer accompany your friends to that bar that you frequented. You can only hear of others telling you about their upcoming foreign vacations, but you yourself can no longer plan one. So, a lot has changed and sometimes we hope to be able to do the same stuff as others, but we are new parents and still getting used to the new life. However, contrary to what I always hear, I wouldn’t really call it a sacrifice at all. I don’t think I am making a sacrifice if I am giving up on a few things I liked to do so that I can take better care of my daughter. I am happy to do everything I can for her, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. I do it out of love.

And love it really is. Of a kind that I have never felt before. Or never felt possible. Remember the first crush in school? Remember the first time you thought you were in love? Or the first time you actually got loved back? The time when you thought you would die if you did not get your love back? Or the time when you got married? All of those feelings simply pale in comparison to the feeling of love that I feel for my darling daughter.

Darling, she really is. It is impossible to explain how happy she makes me feel when she smiles at the stupid faces I make in order to amuse her. Every single time she smiles seems to me like the first time and fills me with life. The only thing I want to do all the time is pick her up in my arms, hug her and plant tiny kisses on her round round cheeks.

So, on the one hand while having a baby has taken away the routine of my life, my passion for reading and writing and being able to socialize with friends in the same way as before, it has also brought me happiness and love in its purest and most pleasurable form – the love of a father for his daughter. So, the scales are tipped heavily in the favour of the good compared to the bad.

And that is all that matters, doesn’t it? How has your experience been like?

Did you like this post? Please click Like if you did and do remember to Follow my blog for more such posts.

Love for the Unborn

It is a slightly different sort of feeling today. My wife is over 4 months pregnant now and while I have been looking at baby products like toys, gyms, neck slings, etc., I  am positively overwhelmed. There is so much I need to and want to do, whereas the baby is still over 5 months away. I want to buy the most colorful bibs and toys, and my heart is set on the most expensive baby gym and stroller I have seen yet. I have basically forgotten about everything else that, until a few months back, I wanted to buy for myself. No longer am I wishing for the MacBook, or the Hoverboards so popular these days. Neither am I thinking of a gift for myself on my 33rd birthday, which is only about a week away.

But more importantly, I felt something even more incredible. While I was looking at some baby carriers, I felt this strong urge to pick up and hug my baby. I felt as if we already have a baby and someone has taken it away from me and I just felt unable to bear the separation. I just wanted to hold it close to my chest and not let it go, and protect it from the world. Gosh! It feels like I am the mother, not the father. Never expected I would have started to feel this much love and attachment for the unborn little one this early. Do dads really feel the way I am feeling?