“Treat this project like your own baby!”
I have heard it a hundred times, yet the gravity of it landed on me ONLY when an actual baby landed onto my lap and my life!
Yuuuuup, I became a Mommy on the 10th day of January 2020, when the world was just coming to terms with a virus that would alter our lives forever. It’s only been a quarter of a year since then, yet it seems like a lifetime
Coming back to my baby…within a week of her birth, the magnitude of my incompetence hit me fully in my face! Prior to that, I would just hear fellow Mommies talk about how difficult it is and wonder with some skepticism. Within two weeks of being a Mom – I had had two breakdowns, was very sure that I am not cut out for this, and truly believed that a corporate job is way easier than being a parent!
It’s but natural for anyone to look at a situation through the lens of their profession. A comedian would see it through the lens of jest, an analyst would crunch the numbers for a solution and philosopher would try to unearth the true meaning of it all. Hence, it was but natural, I viewed this through the lens of the learning process!
I think I have a decent level of expertise in the learning & development domain but had no clue about how being a Mom. I asked myself whether I could apply my work principles to becoming a capable mom?
Turns out, I can! Here’s how :
Before I could pick up any skill of being a Mom, I had to deal with the deluge of emotions I was engulfed in. Why am I not able to manage? Why is it so difficult? Will my baby ever love me? Am I even meant to do this?
I could move ahead only after I had addressed all of this turmoil within me. In a learning environment, we often focus on the ‘hard skill’, ignoring the softer aspects of emotions, that could range from the fear of failure to the discomfort of acquiring a difficult skill. No skill can be learnt without first addressing the emotions in a safe space. Thankfully, the presence of my mom and spouse enabled this environment for me.
Like most other skills, parenthood entails various skills which vary in complexity. It can be mastered only through experience and deliberate practice. Ranging from feeding and diaper change which are relatively easy peasy, burping is the domain of a somewhat experienced parent, whereas, calming a baby crying at 100 decibels is outright excellence!
As I started to gain some composure, I read one of the best books in the space –The ‘Happiest Baby in the Block‘ by Dr. Warp. After that, I would focus on mastering a skill every day, setting a goal for practice, perfecting it every time and making corrections on the way. I was receiving non – verbal feedback from my baby and verbal ones from those around. I forgave myself generously if I made mistakes. The more I gained mastery, the more confident I became and the more engaged I felt in my new role.
I cannot overstate the importance of social learning in acquiring a skill as difficult as parenthood! During this period, I have reached out to so many friends, who have kids ranging from infants to toddlers. I have heard what has worked best for them and applied the tips that worked best for me and my baby! At the same time, it was comforting to know that I am not the only one who feels this way or is facing the same difficulties. In organizations, social learning is key to success – informal or formal, online or offline. Unfortunately, my own research indicates that it is one of the most underutilized forms of learning.
Last, but not the least, one has to enjoy the process. I realized that I absolutely loved making up silly stories and noises for my kiddo and would indulge in it whenever the going got tough! The outcome has been magical. My baby now gets a fit of giggles every time I begin one of my stories…and any parent would agree, this is absolutely priceless!
If you are reading this article, thank you so much! This is my first attempt at writing after a hiatus of approximately 4 months! I look forward to hearing what you think!