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Motherhood is a wonderful thing. “But should it mean that I should give up who I am, to be just a mother all the time?” A new mother muses.
“Oh my god, you are glowing! Congratulations!” is something every mother-to-be gets to hear all through the nine months that she carries the tiny life that is taking form. And the pampered momma blushes and smiles, thanking everyone, feeling happy and blissful about the time to come.
But do all go down the lane of happiness and joy? Or are there some who wonder what the future will hold for them: will they just become ‘mother of baby XYZ’ or will they continue to have an identity of their own? What if they don’t feel content just having a baby? Will they be shunned for wanting to be themselves?
I was told that it was not possible to want anything else once the stork dropped the little bundle; it wasn’t ‘human’ to not be content after the child’s birth.
And thus I was alienated; from most in the family who felt I was nuts to want anything beyond taking care of my child, from my friends who sympathized but could never understand why I felt so low and depressed despite getting what most of us always yearned for.
Yes, I was depressed. After hearing tales of how happy women are once they become mothers, I was scared to admit it, even to myself. All I could think about was how my life would change. Would I be able to do things I had done before? Would I get my space, something I have always treasured? Thousands of questions hounded my very being.
How could I feel so low? Was I insane to not be able to enjoy the thought of motherhood? A ‘gift’ most women would kill for? I was convinced that something was wrong with me. A difficult pregnancy only made matters worse. It will all change once the baby arrives, I told myself.
Nine months went by and my little bundle arrived. I still remember the moment he was placed in my hands. I was overwhelmed by the surge of emotion I felt as I held my son. Everything felt right with the world and suddenly all my apprehensions seemed trivial in front of the life that I had given birth to. I would be able to manage both I felt; being myself and stepping into the role of being a mother to my child. Life would fall into place or so I thought.
Right from the word go, everyone around me seemed to take it for granted that all I would do now is take care of my son. Barring my husband and a select few, each family member seemed to have decided what course my life should take.
Getting help to bathe the baby was considered blasphemy. Going for a quick 10 minute walk to ease my stiffened body was looked down upon. Going out for shopping or to grab a bite only raised eyebrows. Even with others present; I had to be around the baby all the time- be it to change his nappies or picking up his toys, I was the one who had to drop everything and attend to him.
Everything I did or did not do began to get criticized and judged. I seemed to have taken permanent residence on the hot seat.
And if that wasn’t enough, people then started speaking on my behalf- “She won’t go back to working now; why should she? She has to take care of the child.” All this from educated women who until then had come across as sensible and practical in their approach to life. Even working from home was a taboo. My life wasn’t mine anymore, everyone but me seemed to have taken ownership of it.
That was the last straw.
Not all women are the same – some find their happiness in being homemakers and taking care of their families while others find peace in their work and jobs. It by no way means that the former is ignorant and whiling away time, nor does it mean that the latter do not care for their families. Everyone’s calling differs and it should not be force-fitted into a pre-determined mould.
I had begun losing myself in order to become a mother and I was not ok with that.
Fortunately for me, I have my husband by my side; to help me overcome the hostility around me; to break free and have a life of my own. That is my silver lining.
This experience has helped me open my eyes to the realities around me, within my own family. It will take me time to fight this low I have found myself in but I know I will tide through it.
Motherhood has been the most beautiful bond that I have experienced; the most precious gift I could ever have. My son means the world to me; and nurturing him is of utmost priority. So is not losing myself, standing strong as myself.
Because if I let the world get the better of me, I will always live with a guilt – that of my son never getting to know the real me.
Image source: working mother with a baby by Shutterstock.
Seeta Bodke is a Business Consultant and Senior Manager from the IT sector. After spending
Wonderful article.. You just read my mind!!
Thanks Aparna. Only after writing this piece did I realize I am not alone. Unfortunately our society is such that it does not allow these feelings to surface. We have been conditioned to feel guilty about everything we do and feel.
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