Baby JFC has been a part of the Cardoso-D’Souza for a year and two months now. Before I met him, I had all sorts of grand ideas how it would go. I was supposed to surprise my family by showing up for lunch in Goa on Christmas day (they thought I was coming on the 28th). They would all be like “WHAT”, my dad would say “arey!” (a word of exclamation that means exactly what it sounds like it means) and Jacob would try to crawl-walk around in circles bringing me all his toys in excitement. Unfortunately while preparing for various arrivals, my dad was in a tragic accident and he died two weeks later. If you’re thinking “I can’t imagine how you feel”, well…yes.
My introduction to Jacob was on no sleep, chaos and yet it was like we’d known each other since the day he was born like 12 months earlier. I thought he would be more wary of me but we weren’t strangers in his mind. Maybe he was feeling the stress too. I try to strain my brain to think how it must have been for Jane to take care of her baby and watch her father just….not swoop in and save everyone and I can’t imagine it either. We all just went through what we went through, little time for emotion and Jacob was the exact opposite. He laughed when he was happy, cried when he was hungry or sleepy, and hit his walking milestone all while grandpa couldn’t walk again. Caring for a Jacob in the midst of it all – even for a few hours – felt like a lot.
Duh. Babies are hard work. Parenting them takes a village. Parenting them well takes a solid parent(s). Jane is an awesome mother because of all the people that have come before and because of all those she lets into her life for baby Jacob. She trusts wisely and lets friends and family love her son, gleaning wisdom they pass on. It’s easy for a parent to protect their offspring but maintaining the fine balance between learning and safety is what I think Jane does best. I can’t for the life of me remember how our parents raised us but I know play was never stifled (We played SO MUCH). I imagine Jane and Sidney will do the same for Jacob. He’s already such a sensitive kiddo, always touching everything and has so much more love to give. That has to come from somewhere special.
On her second Mommy’s Day, maybe you’d like to catch up on her first interview? SURE. Here it is.
Happy second Mother’s Day, Jane. You make your parents so proud. Your choice to be an adoptive parent also helped me become a lot more tolerant of crying babies on airplanes (Folks, stop whinging. There’s really nothing that can be done about it.) (thanks Jacob!). There’s a lot to be thankful for but most of all, thank you.
1) How did it feel to finally hear Jacob say “mama”?
He took his time. (He) Said Dada long before mama. In fact, he used to properly say “dada” when asked to say “mama” and look for my reaction. I don’t think I reacted to him saying mama as much as I did when he first introduced me to a stranger as mama. That was an amazing feeling. Like I belonged with him.
2) It’s been a year since your first Mother’s Day. How have you evolved as a mother to this new phase of baby Jacob?
Oh my wow. Jacob’s gone from strength to strength, only getting more and more adventurous with each passing day. I think I’ve evolved in that I pick my battles. Not everything is punishment material because it also kills curiosity. I’ve learned to be more patient. And definitely have a way, way higher tolerance for loud noises.
3) Has being a mother to Jacob lived up to what your expectations of parenthood were pre-baby?
Lived up and more.
4) What is your favourite new thing about being Jacob’s mother?
His affection. He’s learned to give us kisses. And sometimes he does it without being asked. It’s the best.
5) There has been a significant change in your life with the tragic loss of your dad in December. Did you feel that changed your relationship with Jacob in any way?
Losing my father didn’t change my relationship with Jacob but it definitely made life bearable after. It also put into perspective how my father must have felt about me and I suck as much joy out of that as possible.
6) Last year I had asked you the question “How does it feel to see mama and dada interact with Jacob”. You said “Complete”. It’s different now. What do you miss the most from seeing him lose a grandparent and what have you gained from all the upheaval?
I’ll always wonder what amazing things my father could have taught him. I’m sure he would have spoiled him rotten like he did us. Worse even. I grieve for both of us. Every time he says “papa” I miss my dada. But I’ve gained the perspective that my father lived every day to the fullest, doing what he wanted to do and I’ve tried to do that since. If I want to take Jacob to the beach, I just do it. Get invited to go over to someone’s house, I go.
7) What are some of your greatest lessons that you learnt from your parents about being a mother to Jacob?
There’s no such thing as too much love. To give and give plenty.
8) Our DD was crazy about Jacob (and his toys). How will you keep dada’s memory alive with Jacob?
I think he’s too young to remind now. And he won’t soon remember. But talking about dada all the time helps. And when he grows up, to tell him things about him. How he loved Jacob. And how loved Jacob made him feel. Memories are all we have.
9) Is having a strong community of family and friends important to the success of your parenting journey?
Not so much success of my parenting as Jacob’s growth. I do derive a lot of energy and patience from my mother, family and friends, especially those with kids. But I feel Jacob benefits much more than me in a highly social environment. A lot of his behavioural learning happens outside of home. It’s easy to teach and constrain bad behaviour when it’s just us, but the benefits of being out there living in the world are so much more.
10) You have been very open about your adoption journey with Jacob. Do you feel this openness has helped other families in your life wanting to add to their little brood? Elaborate.
To an extent yes. So many people have reached out to ask for help and advice. So many admire how Jacob fits in with us so well. It sort of adds to the acceptance that not much of society offers. To go beyond conceiving being the “preferred” way and more about choosing what is best for you. I guess having the option to choose nurture over nature.
11) What strategies have you come up with to keep Jacob as a baby forever?
Never gonna happen. He’s growing up so fast. Although a friend idea of keeping him a baby bonsai seems like the best strategy so far.
12) Okay fine. How does it feel to see him grow up so fast?
See. Even you know what I mean. It’s too fast and too slow all at once. I’m always eagerly awaiting the next milestone but I greatly miss the one that went before. I’m fighting a losing battle.
13) Do you ever feel any social pressure as a mother to raise your baby a certain way? How do you keep those thoughts/people at bay?
The pressure exists. But I try hard not to let it cloud my judgement and understanding of the person that is Jacob. If I have to listen to society, it means I have to lock Jacob up rather than let him, literally, run free. I have to “be careful” rather than trust him. I wish I had the control society thinks I have over this child. But it’s not realistic and I want him to know he is a few bird, but know he will always have me to fall back on.
14) Last year you said you didn’t feel any change on becoming a mother and that you still felt like a child. Is it still weird to think of yourself as Jacob’s mama or has your identity become full-mommy now?
A little of both. His growing needs exhaust me sometimes which definitely make me feel older. But I still feel too young.
15) Do you ever feel any desire to separate your identity as Jane the person and Jane the mother? Basically, how do you take care of you?
I don’t think it crosses my mind. I can’t imagine life without Jacob anymore. Or life before him. He’s a part of me and I love that. As for the taking care of me part, thankfully between Sidney and Mama, I get to go out and do my thing. So small increments of me time helps tremendously.
16) Is there any life advice, embarrassing stories or anecdotes you want to tell 1-year-old Jacob since my blog is forever and I’m definitely going to show him this once he can read at age 2?
Just to be true to himself. The world today pulls you in so many different ways. Something that appeals to one is disgusting for another. And if you think to live your life based on others, you’ll always feel like you are falling short. I’d also like to tell him to always keep his quirky sense of humor because it definitely helps brighten the world around him.
Plus as far as stories of him, currently his adorable use to “papaya” as the category of fruits is so funny. Everything from watermelon to mango is papaya. And ironically enough he didn’t quite like actual papaya.
17) Last question, does Sidney (husband) give you enough foot massages?
There’s never enough foot massages in the world. But he does give pretty amazing massages. No complaints.