x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Married life: bond with baby overtakes everything

Becoming an insufferable mother subjecting friends and strangers alike to news of her daughter is something that our Married Life columnist was unable to avoid.

I’ve become one of “those” kinds of mums. The mums that sleep, eat and breathe their little bundles of joy. I’ve become the sort of person that uses the phrase “bundle of joy”. I’m insufferable, and 100 per cent preoccupied by my baby daughter. My Facebook updates are all starring Baby A. I can’t remember the last time I took a picture of anything other than her, and we’re talking at least 20 pictures a day here, minimum. My online shopping addiction? Let’s just say they’re often resulting in the tiniest of packages delivered right to my door.

I can’t carry on a conversation that doesn’t involve Baby A, and if I do, then I am making a concerted effort not to bring her up. I am always secretly hoping that whomever I’m talking to or emailing will ask to see pictures of my baby girl, and if they don’t, I find a way to subject them to staring at the pictures anyway and demand they fawn over her, while engaging (read: putting them to sleep) with a running commentary on how cute she is.

Instagram is my new best friend: it’s yet another platform I can abuse with pictures of Baby A, and when complete strangers “like” a recently posted picture, I am secretly ecstatic and immediately inform Mr T.

I’ve become the cliche mother I once used to mock, and the worst part is, I’m not apologetic about it. My pint-sized dictator has become the centre of my universe and I’m making no effort to widen my universe’s picket fence.

Just a few months ago, I was a completely different person. I had other interests! I could talk about current events or exotic travel or good design or other adult topics. I could dissect movie plot lines with my equally interesting Mr T and research fun recipes to try out and plan gatherings with like-minded adults who have a plethora of interests.

And while those things may still pique my interest, they aren’t exactly occupying much brain power lately. I’m easily distracted, because the fact is, somewhere in the near vicinity, Baby A is cooing, or reaching out for a favourite toy, or eager to cuddle, and she’s so much more enticing than anything else I can think of doing.

Here’s the biggest shocker for me: despite the roller coaster that was the first few weeks of her life, I don’t mind being immersed in Babyland at all, which I never expected. Even more surprisingly, Mr T is on the exact same page.

“We never talk about anything but Baby A,” I remarked to him. “It’s like we have nothing else to talk about. What did we use to talk about?”

“Who cares,” he said to me. “Do you even want to talk about anything else? She’s too cute.”

There’s endless advice out there for couples who have just become parents: don’t make your entire world about your baby. Schedule date nights. Try to get alone time together and don’t spend it talking about baby.

The challenge, I suppose, is to continue enjoying our Baby A while not losing who we once were in process. We need to make an effort to socialise with people who are not parents, to read books, to plan vacations for the culture factor, rather than the baby-friendliness.

But honestly? Neither myself nor Mr T can be bothered. She’s just “too cute”. And will our relationship suffer as a consequence of being too obsessed with our baby? How can it possibly? We’re not the same people we once were, thanks to her, and how can it be a bad thing that we’re so in love with her, and consequently, more in love with one another than ever before? It’s a win-win situation.

Hala Khalaf is the deputy Arts&Life editor at The National