“Why do I need to stay with your family? I mean I like them and all, but you’re just going away for a month, right? I can take care of myself. Plus your sister is there with her new-born baby, it will be so chaotic :S, don’t you think ?,” Stephanie blurted out like a kid who’s forced to go to school on the day of a test that she has least prepared for.
“Haha, you sound like a baby you know,” laughed Jack.
“Laugh all you want, but I really don’t want to go,” she pleaded with puppy dog eyes and also let out a laughter when as she heard herself.
“I know you don’t want to go honey, but mom insisted quite a lot for you to stay with them while I’ll be away. It’s been so long. I turned her down twice but she was persistent, you know how it was” he said diligently.
“But there will be so much….so much work and all and you know I don’t like kids, I’ll miss youuuuu so much. Why does your company have to send you all the way to Australia and that too for a month. And why am I not allowed” she mumbled and she rambled.
“c’mon my family’s not all that bad. It’s just a month hun. It’ll be quickly gone. And you know my company needs to set up a new plant in Australia, so as the head of the department, I need to go for research and all and wife is not allowed as per company policy, but hey just a month right” and he picked up his bags and they left for the airport.
“Hey Steph, ah we meet after a long time. Jack got on the flight awrite ?,” asked Jack’s mom Rita in an excited voice.
“Hey Rita, yeah I spoke to Jack till he had to switch off his phone before the take off,” replied Stephanie in a tone quite opposite to that of Rita’s.
Rita welcomed her daughter-in-law inside and everyone else including Jack’s dad (Adam) and his sister (Laura) with her one-month old toddler (Aiden) greeted each other. Just when Stephanie (for a split-second) thought that Aiden was kewt inspite of her I-don’t-like-babies attitude, Aiden threw up all over her neck and dress causing Stephanie to retaliate in disgust and words like “ewwww”, “gross”, “what the hell”, “urghh” filled everyone’s otherwise peaceful ears.
Laura apologised but no one could stop laughing at this instance. Stephanie was a little confused at everyone’s reaction and thought that here she’s soaked in white vomit and a spoiled dress and everyone else is finding it funny ? Amidst her thoughts and strong reaction of confusion and disgust evidently glittering on her face, Rita caught her and understood what Steph might be going through considering the fact that she’s not so very fond of kids. So Rita went up to Steph and explained to her that the reason behind the giggles and laughter was the innocent and unintentional antics and raw behaviour of a kid that amuses a grown up all the time and makes him/her fall more in love with him. Steph gave a kids-are-weird-and-I-don’t-understand-the-stupid-things-they-do look, so Rita left her by herself to ponder some more over the enlightening piece of information about kids Rita had just given her.
Days turned into a week and Steph’s thinking about kids grew more stronger but in the opposite direction. Every time she went to kiss Aiden on the cheeks, he threw up on her. After innumerous throw ups and potty stains and aimless leaks on herself and the sleepless nights because of constant cries of Aiden at night, she was growing weary and was in a perennially flustered state.
She needed her dose of affection from her husband and so whenever Steph found some solitude, away from the chaos and the chores and the toddler’s irritating behaviour and Laura’s always-prancing-and-yelling-and-tsunami-causing-6-year-old Henry, she used to call Jack for some relieving talks.
“When are you coming back? I’m missing you. I can’t stay here. You don’t know what Aiden does to me all the time,” she was on the verge of crying.
“I miss you too hun. And haha what Aiden does to you or what you do to him?” he said trying to tease his wife.
“Eww, I dont like kids Jack. He’s just always throwing up on me, and peeing on me ALL THE TIME. C’mon, there’s a limit to everything,” she said.
“But how would a kid know that Steph, you need to understand,” he replied trying to explain her the ways kids work in.
“I don’t know all that. I’m just getting damn irritated now. Anyways, I don’t want to talk about all this now. I just want to talk to you, about you. Anything new at your end ?”
“Listen just take a deep breath ok. Just try to have fun with the kids. Well, the only thing new today is that I had your favourite Tiramisu”
“Even I want tiramisu,” and they talked for another ten minutes talking about Australia when Rita walked in and Steph disconnected the call.
“Ah, nice weather outside, want to go take a walk in the lawn ?” Rita asked a very frazzled Stephanie.
In a desperate attempt for a break, Steph accepted and they both headed towards the lush green lawn outside. The cooll air and the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers and the soil, Steph felt a little relaxed. Both of them got into a general chat about life, family, career…and kids when Rita asked Steph as to when she and Jack were planning to have kids.
“I don’t know Rita. To be frank, I think you know what I feel about kids. I’m not particularly fond of them. They get onto my nerves. So Jack and I aren’t planning for kids anytime soon. It’s a huge responsibility. And being in touch with my inner (and I think outer) retaliation, I don’t know if I ever want to have kids,” Steph replied in a subtle and tired manner.
“Well, yeah I’ve noticed how you feel about kids, Steph. And as a wife, I can understand what you mean, but being a mother (and I’m a mother to you as well) all I want to say is that you should keep your head clear and then arrive at any decision. Becoming a mother and raising a family is one amazing wonder of nature and life, something that everyone should experience atleast once. You get the opportunity of raising a life inside of you and protecting and moulding that life into a good person when it’s out in the world. Kids are a great responsibility, yes, but they’re also a part of you that you will cherish for the rest of your life. No one will force you for anything, Steph. But if you would just listen to me this once and keep an open mind about kids and the whole process and if still you feel that what you’ve decided is apt for you and Jack, then so be it, but I don’t want you to regret this decision twenty years later when you will have no one by your side apart from each other, to love you, to remind you of who you used to be, of who you are now, of what you’ve become, of what you’ve accomplished,” Rita got emotional and hoped Steph would understand.
“Hmmm, I cannot promise you anything, Rita. But I think I’ll give it a try to whatever you just said,” Steph smiled trying to heed Rita’s advice.
In the following days, Rita could see that Steph did consider her advice after all. Whenever Aiden did his usual stuff on Steph, she did get irked like the usual, but this time she also tried to control and understand it. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, maybe clear off her head and comprehended Aiden’s innocence.
Rita could notice that Steph’s tolerance level had increased, she was getting less annoyed with Aiden’s antics day after day and was trying to seep in more instead of urghing all the time. She was giving herself some time and space to deal with what raising a child actually means. There were times when Steph returned to her old self and got a little frustrated with Aiden, but that could be excused in front of all that that she was trying to understand and to some extend change her perspective towards kids too.
Steph started spending some more time with Aiden. He used to get excited and would gesture his hands and legs involuntarily at her mere sight. Earlier she would refrain a little and just smile but eventually she would take him into her arms and incessantly talk gibberishly with him. And he, no less, would cheer up and give that splendid smile without any pearly whites which used to make Steph giggle as well, everytime. Steph probably didn’t even notice how deep her affection was growing for Aiden. But there’s always a part that doubts the current behaviour and Steph did get irritated sometimes with the cries of the kid and the responsibility was daunting. But apart from that she now derived great pleasure from kissing him and hugging him and playing with him and before she knew it, her 30 days of enjoyment expired when Jack showed up at the house.
“Jack , omg! you are home,” she ran at the sight of him and hugged him and squeezed him tightly and Jack kissed her.
“You are early, weren’t you supposed to come after a month?,” she asked confused and excited and more than anything, she was happy.
“Erm, it is one month Steph, don’t tell me Aiden tortured you so much that you’re suffering from partial memory loss now,” scoffed Jack.
“Whoaa! one month’s over ? When ? How ? Why? And hey, Aiden’s a kewt baby, he doesn’t torture,” and she spanked Jack and went to her room.
“Whoaa, what happened to her Am I missing something ?” Jack asked in sheer confusion and amusement.
“Oh you have no clue,” said Rita jovially and in a mission-accomplished-cum-grateful manner.
“Did someone possess her and make her love Aiden, is it ?” he looked at his mom and sister.
“Jack, shut up,” said his mom, sister and Steph at the same time and they just laughed. Jack spent some time with his family, played with Aiden and chatted until it was time for Jack and Steph to leave when Steph’s brightly lit face because of Jack, faded a bit at the thought of leaving Aiden which almost everyone noticed.
Jack asked Steph if she was awrite to which she replied in a colourless tone that she was fine.
“If you’re going to miss him so much, why don’t we have our own kids ?” Jack said even though he knew what Steph’s reply would be.
But his eyes popped out and his jaw dropped open like a monkey when Steph replied, ” I think that could be a possibility.”