Friday 2 October 2009

Driving without (or with?) a purpose

Yesterday H aunty, a cousin of my mother-in-law, spent a few hours with us. During the course of the afternoon, she said she had to buy a few things and could I take her to the shops? So we bundled Y in her carseat and off we went. By the time we finished shopping and set off for home, Y was distinctly antsy due to a lack of sleep. As we entered our parking lot, I glanced back at the rear seat to see her starting glassily out of the window, a sure sign that she was about to drop off very soon. Rather than yanking her out of the carseat at that time and running the 100% risk of a meltdown, I told H aunty I was going to drive around a bit more to make sure she fell asleep. So out of the parking lot we went.
I drove around quiet residential streets in Santa Clara for 15 minutes, maintaining an even 25-30 mph and taking care to keep the sun on my left (Y keeps tearing off her carseat canopy with the result that the sun hits her directly on her face). H aunty was dozing. The silent houses seemed to be slumbering in the afternoon heat, just like Y at the back. The only sounds keeping me company were the purr of the car engine, the gentle hum of the air conditioner and the barely audible squawks from FM 106.9.
It occured to me what a large proportion of my time as a mother I have spent in activities like these. Driving aimlessly through city streets in an effort to calm a fussing child. Parked in a quiet street, the windows down and an afternoon breeze blowing through the car as both child and mother dozed. Swinging Ads with both arms, back and forth, back and forth while belting out garbled version of 60's Hindi film songs. Rocking Y, up-down up-down, on the Lazy-boy. All in a bid to grab that grand prize - SLEEP baby sleep so that I can get some rest.
As much as parenting involves to such a large extent performance of such repetitive, mind-numbing and monotonous tasks, I have to admit that my most serene and reflective moments have occurred while engaged in such tasks. If God lies in the details, then surely peace lies in a sleeping child cradled in your arms.

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