At the age of 23, when the idea of exploring life dominates the younger generation that often struggles with commitment issues, Vaibhav Pawar had different idea about exploring life. He dreamt of becoming a father to a daughter and had also thought of a name for her – Tiara. Now at 31, Vaibhav’s dream has come to life. He has found his calling and feels contended with a loving wife Janvi and daughter in tow. Vaibhav – a marketing consultant for an insurance company, is proud of his wife Janvi Doshi who’s a psychologist. When Janvi was admitted to the hospital for delivery Vaibhav was working. But when he got the message, he was by her side in the labour room. “It’s Tiara” – Vaibhav had announced Vaibhav as soon as she arrived. ‘The doctor was stunned, and she looked at me. I was prepared for fatherhood even before Tiara was born’, says Vaibhav.
Janvi and Vaibhav had planned the pregnancy thoughtfully. “Reading books helped but I also learned hands on. Although I had morning sickness for the longest period, I remained professionally active for the entire 9 months. Vaibhav was involved since the beginning. He assumed the responsibility of managing the house. People would advise me to slow down but I was working till the day of delivery. On the day of my travel, Vaibhav would pack lunch for me. He simply took over. He would call me to check on me during my professional tours,” shared Janvi.
Explaining her relationship with her daughter, Janvi said, “My relationship specifically with Tiara was joyous. I was happy during my pregnancy. After six months, I didn’t try to wean her off; she weaned herself off gradually,” Janvi beams with joy as she looks at Tiara.
During her pregnancy, Janvi had to go to Switzerland for work, the voyage which Vaibhav didn’t want her to take. He tried to reason out with her but when the doctor gave her permission, he had to concede. “A lot of parents struggle through the pregnancy, but I continued doing what I loved to do. Initially, I had difficulty in breast feeding Tiara but in a couple of days, it was sorted. After six months, Tiara started taking the complementary food and she enjoyed the fare. Now that she’s 18-month-old, she has started relishing the dishes such as poha, and sabudana khichadi. You don’t have to feed her; she eats with her little spoon’.
Vaibhav had also prepared himself for fatherhood. He read a lot about pregnancy and newborn care. Janvi and Vaibhav exchanged notes as Janvi wanted her partner to be on the same page. Dialogue, empathy and trust have been the hallmark of Janvi and Vaibhav’s bond.
“Pandemic made a big shift in our relationship. Vaibhav started working from home and became a full-time father. This shift helped me a lot. Tiara is firm about what she wants, so it’s easy for us. People also have attachment issues, but we have decided to make Tiara secure. We play with her, encourage her curiosity – that’s the way children learn,” shared Janvi.
Vaibhav grew up in a family where old norms were practiced. The new norms of women retaining their last name after marriage and not wearing Mangalsutra were new to him. But he got attuned to the new ideas in no time. “It’s a template, right? One can create their own. We are molded into a boy, or a girl and we carry all the baggage associated with boy/girl/manhood. We learn this binary early in life. My wife is intelligent and passionate about her work. I am into marketing communications and she’s a psychologist, sometimes I feel her work is more important than mine,” said Vaibhav.
After Tiara completed 6 months, Janvi resumed her work. Due to this new normal, people aren’t meeting each other. Janvi’s psychological consultations are conducted online, and she devotes around three hours daily for work.
“I schedule my work and I don’t take on work or meetings during those hours. I get to decide my own time, I have that freedom. We check each other’s schedule and decide accordingly. I hate cleaning so I choose to cook. I cooked breakfast and dinner during the entire lockdown period. I had never washed my plate or done laundry; all I would do was to put my clothes in the laundry bag. The moment we started living separately, I realized there’s lot of work. I want my child to learn all these chores. It’s difficult when you come from a background where you didn’t have to assume any responsibility and suddenly, when you start living separately, there’s lot of work.
“My parents had a love marriage, and it was an inter-caste marriage which was a big deal then. Despite being from a family where there were fixed gender roles, my father took on many responsibilities. It was a big step for his generation. A lot of my sensitivity came from Janvi because she’s been a campaigner for equal rights. She’s pushed me and I am open to new ideas. I am happy that it was my choice, and I was not forced into it,” explained Vaibhav. There are men who think child rearing is not their responsibility and there are men like Vaibhav, who are learning to be loving fathers, caring husband and good human beings.