Many years ago I was at home with my parents and we were watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There’s a scene in the movie where the main character is depicted spending her evening sitting between her two parents watching TV. It didn’t take a second for both my parents to turn, point, laugh and announce that I was their Toula. I was supposed to be the one left behind. My mother often quotes her mother who had warned her to be nice to me as I’d be the only one left to take care of her when she’s old. Well, like Toula, I didn’t stick to the script. I didn’t exactly find myself a John Corbett, but the husband is American, so there’s at least one similarity.
As a child I would find whatever excuse I could to join in with as few chores as possible. In my early 20s I wasn’t even sure I wanted a family. Why would you do that when you can have a career, earn money and spend it on yourself? Besides, other people would have children. If I felt the need I could spend time with one of them and then GIVE THEM BACK. I wasn’t even very house proud. In fact, I hardly spent any time at home – I was always out with my friends. As far as I was concerned, having no responsibilities was a bonus.
But then my big sister had her first child. As all good Indian families do, as soon as she went into labour we piled into two cars and the whole gang went down to the hospital. She had asked me to be with her when things got messy. Can’t say I was much use. It was so hot – birth partners should know that delivery rooms are really hot – dress accordingly. And I felt dizzy had the most awful cramps. Obviously nothing compared to what my sister was feeling…. Anyway, my niece finally arrived and I’d never felt a rush of emotion like it. I left the room and sobbed in the hallway for what felt like three hours. It might have actually been about 7 minutes, I’m not sure. But it was then I realised that the life that I’d mapped out for myself was very lonely and I’d totally missed the point. It took me 24 years to learn that lesson.
Fast forward 10 years or so. My daughter is a few months old and I’m with my mum and she says: “You know, when you said you were pregnant I looked at your Dad and we got worried. We thought we’d need to hire you a nanny. I didn’t think you would be able to cope, I mean it’s you – I wasn’t even sure you could manage changing a nappy. But you can, I’m proud of you.”
So to all nervous expectant mothers out there, if I can do this, so can you. Everything’s going to be ok.