Before my first daughter, Anjali, was born I was terrified. What did I know about raising children? I was the youngest in a family of four. I had never been around children and couldn’t imagine a person who knew less about children, children’s psychology, or even the basics of changing a diaper. In the second trimester of my wife’s pregnancy, I was so anxious that I had a funny but terrifying dream of this baby that was coming into my life.
I dreamed that my wife, Laura, and I were walking down a corridor. As Laura walked beside me, she held a baby. In the dream I knew it was our baby. I felt some level of anxiety but Laura was so happy that she was literally glowing. As we walked along, she gave me the baby to hold. I felt my anxiety level rising as I tried to make sure that I didn’t drop the baby. As we walked, the baby started to get bigger, not older, just bigger. I tried to keep up with Laura but my arms felt like they were burning under the weight of this baby. As I continued to fall behind, I felt even more stress. Finally, Laura walked through a door and beckoned for me to step through. When I got to the door, I realized that the baby was too big for me to get both of us through. It was at that point that I woke up, screaming, and drenched in sweat. At the time, Laura thought it was so funny she couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t think it was all that funny.
Over the years, as I thought back to that dream, I realized that my anxiety wasn’t based on a fear that I wouldn’t be able to do the basics for my children, but that somehow I wouldn’t be loved by them. In my heart, I think I realized that I would fall madly in love with my children and that the intensity would persist throughout a lifetime. What I wasn’t so sure about was whether or not they would love me back.
In the years since Anjali’s birth and the births of my other daughters, one thing I have realized is that a child’s love for her parents is the closest thing to unconditional love we have on earth. The girls have taught me so much about unconditional love. I’m just glad I was able to slow down long enough to learn their language of love and fully feel it.
Sugata Biswas lives in Newbury Park, California, with his three daughters and always lovely wife. He works as a market researcher and enjoys participating in triathlons. He would welcome comments and communication at firstname.lastname@example.org.