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Can well-meaning advice from mothers to mothers to be do more harm than good? What do you think?
Smita Ramani in her own words: I am 28; professionally, I work in media and I love to paint, read & travel. I am super excited for the most amazing journey of my life..motherhood! I am currently 5 months expecting and can’t wait for what comes next!
Before I begin, let me give you a bit of a background. I am a first time mom-to-be and as expected I am flying a few feet above the ground with this news brewing…literally in my tummy!
During these first few months, I began to notice a strange ‘phenomenon’ – a particular reaction this news receives from women who themselves are already mothers. Well to be fair, not all moms, but I can safely say 80% of the moms have a very similar reaction.
Being in the late 20s age group that I am (sigh!), I also have a few friends who are on their journey to motherhood, and they too have encountered this very same ‘phenomenon’. So I decided to put it out there for all moms-to-be and moms.
This is the usual reaction my pregnancy news gets from the ‘been-there-done-that-mothers’ – from close relatives, to friends to complete strangers who see the bump and just have to come up and say something .
On hearing the news, of course there is the customary congratulations offered, followed by enquiries on my health, month etc. All standard and expected. What comes next is what I find a little difficult to comprehend and probably a little uncomfortable as well. Next comes an armory of statements and advice on the changes in my life and the challenges of motherhood. Here are a few examples:
– Wow! Your life is about to change! Enjoy while you still can!
– How far along did you say you are? You look way too big bump/small bump/overweight/underweight .You should check with your doctor and eat properly.
– Oh my god! Say good bye to sleep and any personal time for the next 2 years.
– Get ready for a cranky baby and diaper duties.
– And my personal favorite…”Motherhood is not as easy at it looks ok? Its not as rosy as it looks in the Anne Geddes pictures. There is a lot of sacrifice and tears. You should be prepared for it.”
To the above, I am thinking in my head, “You don’t say! I thought I would just switch the baby to ‘auto-mode’ and it would just self sustain.” I think we all have been in contact with enough cranky,bratty and difficult toddlers to know motherhood is no piece of cake. Hell! We too were demanding little brats once.
I want to tell all these experienced mothers that though I know their advice is well meaning, it does more harm than good. I remember one mother telling me the challenges of breastfeeding and how it doesn’t come naturally to all mothers. I immediately panicked and bought so many books on breastfeeding! Really.
Out of all the mothers I have interacted with so far, two gave me the reactions I think all moms-to be need and want to hear.
A close friend, also a mother, told me, “Being a mother is the most natural process in the world. You will learn, as we all did, on-the-job. You will be exactly the mother your child needs.”
And my mom, a loving mother of two daughters, God knows she had her own set of challenges. But when I ask her about it, all she had to say was “Be prepared to feel more love than you ever thought possible. That’s all you need to be prepared for right now, the rest will all come naturally”
So to conclude, it is my request to all the wonderful experienced mothers out there. We mums-to-be know and are prepared for what lies ahead (well, as prepared as anyone can be). I am sure there will be challenges, but then we don’t expect to get something so beautiful without a bit of work! So please, the next time you see an expectant mum, just give her a hug, tell her something wonderful you experienced as a mother (I am sure there are plenty of things).
Because even though this mom-to-be might seem to be floating several hundred feet above the ground in a happy bubble, she doesn’t need your ‘reality check’ just yet…because when the time comes, this floaty, happy mum-to-be will land smooth and strong…ON HER FEET!
To all mums-to-be, Ladies, block out the noise, you are already the BEST mother your child can get.
Pic credit: Bodhisoma (Used under a Creative Commons license)
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Trigger Warning: This speaks of physical and emotional violence by teachers, caste based abuse, and contains some graphic details, and may be triggering for survivors.
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