They say having a child is like watching your heart walk outside your body forever! Nothing could be closer to the truth. Being a mother awakens a new purpose for living, and exposes a vulnerable part of your soul that you never knew existed….and can only do that much to protect.

The smell of a baby, the footsteps of a

toddler, little sleepy girls in their pajamas and the expressions of little boys chasing bubbles…are moments that a mother wants to capture forever.

One of the privileges of being a parent is the opportunity to watch your children reach their many milestones and witness their adorable reactions to the many firsts that take place, especially in the first five years of their lives.

Their first words, the first unsteady steps, that expression when they first tasted a lemon in contrast to their first chocolate, their first day at school, sleeping through the night, toilet training….a mother’s work is never done and the list goes on.

I remember the hours spent at the windowsill screaming “bow bow” to every dog that we could spot in the street with my daughter when she was a toddler….and after her first haircut I wanted to hold on to her little ringlets forever.

When my son, who constantly kicked my pregnant belly from within like it was a football, didn’t crawl at 6 months I remember the worry I felt. Each day I waited for him to crawl, scrape, drag…anything to indicate that he could, subjecting me to a range of anxious emotions….but he didn’t! Until finally one day, at 9 months, he simply held my fingers, lifted himself off the ground and nonchalantly walked two steps. I couldn’t believe it…wasn’t he too young to walk when he hadn’t even crawled yet….until my parenting Bible informed me that it’s perfectly normal for a child to skip crawling completely and go straight to the walking stage.

As a new mother, I remember devouring books on parenting, anxiously awaiting and monitoring each milestone with baited breath.

Feeling their gums for the first tooth, constantly talking to them hoping they would reply soon, their vaccination schedules, the first bicycle, teaching them to read…all consumed me in the happy bubble of motherhood.

Then one day, stopped at a traffic signal I saw a little girl of about nine, carrying her infant brother on her hip asking us for some money….not an uncommon sight, unfortunately, on our streets.

But that was probably the first time my son had noticed this. The infant and he both tried to reach out to each other through the window, each banging on it from their end. Two babies, one inside a car, well scrubbed and snuggled on his mother’s lap, protected from life’s ruthless reality…the other with matted hair and a phlegm crusted nose with tears in his eyes surviving the city’s heat and hunger. The disparity was harsh, though the two didn’t know it at that time. Giving them our cheese sandwich that I had packed for the way and some money was the best I could do at that time. But the image of the two children stayed with me for a long time after.

Who was monitoring their milestones, I wondered? They were probably not even vaccinated, who noticed when his teeth would sprout, or was anxious to hear his first words.

Just like mine, these children deserved the best life had to offer, or at least the necessities. A clean environment, health, basic education, and a loving family to witness their growth.

Unfortunately their parents couldn’t afford the luxury of the time needed to invest in this. Most likely the children would turn out just fine, but it was the parents who were being deprived of the essential joys and milestones of parenting!

Nitya Satyani, Mother

Reaching the milestone age of ‘five’ years should be a joyful journey. From learning how to smile to saying the first words. From learning how to hold a toy, to crawling, walking and finally running. This is a journey full of firsts that impacts the rest of a child’s life. The reality however, is that not all children are able to experience this joy of growing up healthy, because of inadequate nutrition and healthcare.  You can change the first five years of children’s lives for the better.

Donate now towards the CRY ‘Joy of Five’ initiative and ensure 2,50,532 children across CRY-supported projects experience the joy of turning five.

This article was originally published here

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