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Becoming a mother can wrought miraculous changes in a woman. A wonderful look at different relationships through the eyes of a new mother.
The last year has been an amazing year for me. I entered the most adventurous phase of my life right at the beginning of the year – motherhood, which redefined my existence.
As any mother would agree, this is the most awesome experience involving all the emotions a human being can possibly go through. We create and witness a miracle called ‘life’. My little bundle of joy will have his first birthday soon and with him I complete a year of being a mother. Everything happened in its own pace. Yet time just swept past like a hurricane. Being a first-time mom, that too in a foreign land away from all our dear ones, it was a totally different pitch to play.
As I look back today, I realize that one year of motherhood has changed a lot of things in me for sure. But the most healthy effect it had was on my relationships – with self and else. Of special mention are five very crucial and important relationships which either got a new meaning or moved to a different level altogether in this past one year.
Here I write about the five people in random order – my relationship with them was influenced the most in my first year roller-coaster ride of being a mother.
He is my friend, my confidante, my support, my husband. As I said, we are in a foreign land with a totally different language and this barrier was our greatest hurdle during my pregnancy and delivery. We had only each other’s support and what a rock solid strength he has been to me.
I chose my life-partner myself, and if I ever had a single thread of doubt in my mind about my choice, it has been torn into bits and pieces, washed away never to be seen again. Never did I expect I would need somebody to take care of me the way he did, especially during my first trimester. Along with severe nausea, I was spotting every day until my 12th week. It was a nightmare and there was a time when my confidence drooped so low that it took all his strength to pull me up and move forward.
I take pride in saying both of us share our responsibilities both in and out of the house. He understands that the professional challenges are same for both of us. And so, household work has always been ours, not his or mine.
Of course, we have our share of arguments and misunderstandings. And yes, we fight like cats and dogs. With the baby between us now, we have learnt a new art of non-verbal fight whenever possible, I repeat: whenever possible. We have revolutionized and given a new perspective to some good old songs like “Isharon isharon mein dil lene wale bata ye hunar tune sikha kahan se” and “Ankhon ankhon mein hum tum” or “Ankhon hi ankhon me ishara ho gaya”.
I decided to marry him the day I realized I could hear his silence and he could answer mine. Little did I know we were training for the forthcoming unique war of the Titans. Having said that, I have to thank his mother, my mother-in-law, for him being what he is. I hope and pray our son too inherits these genes from his father.
Now that I have mentioned my mother-in-law, the story turns to this lady who has stayed all her life in her village and nearby places except to attend our marriage in my hometown. But, who flew all the way to a totally strange land just to see her grandson and support me when I had to rejoin my work after 3 months of maternity leave.
Before this, we had never stayed with each other for more than a week at a stretch and during that period, I happily donned the role of a good daughter-in-law. But now, it was a different situation. A first-time mother versus a mother who was recently promoted to grandmom, and the serious task ahead was caring for the newborn.
She had her beliefs, ideas and norms whereas I had mine. I accepted what could be accepted but was adamant on other things. Some of her ideas were brilliant while others were geographically not suitable or logically not tolerable. Initially, I was very frustrated, more so because my husband was transferred to another province and visited us only on weekends. That left the two of us alone to deal with each other.
While at work, all the time I had this fear gripping me that hopefully everything is fine at home. This friction was having a toll on our life and relationship. It took me some time and effort to understand that whatever we both did, our intention was good health of my baby. I also realized that having lived all her life in hot and humid climate, her notions were based on that place and older generations’ advice. She was never exposed to another culture, climate, etc. Moreover, she had had no formal education after school.
I needed to act sensibly. She was not an enemy and meant good. So, I started explaining to her why I did what I did and why I couldn’t accept some of the things she said. I read to her from internet and books. It was my good fortune that she was not as adamant as I thought. She was open to new ideas, provided she understood the logic. Moreover, she was happy with my patience and sincerity for my baby. She did not expect me to take care of my baby so minutely despite having a tough working schedule in the office.
With time, we had a very sweet relationship with each other and thus, communication helped us in bonding. As I said, I was fortunate that she also realized I am not an enemy and I do care for our family as much as she does. She was supportive henceforth and till date, although she went back to her place after staying for a brief period here. We have a very healthy relationship now and pray to God it remains so always.
Fathers can do anything for their daughters, it is said. True. My father came to visit us immediately after he heard that I will be staying alone with my newborn baby when my husband had to shift to another province for his job.
My father had never done household work all his life till my mother was there because she did everything. But after the demise of my mother, he took hold of all her responsibilities from taking care of the house and us to my marriage.
What my mother was supposed to do after the birth of my baby, my father did. He cooked for us, took care of the baby, looked after both of us. He did for his grandson what he never had to do for his children. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I saw my father in a new light and am filled with appreciation for him.
I didn’t have to tell him what to do. He understood on his own. A man who is fond of outdoor activities was almost house-arrested because of the baby and to top it all, the weather didn’t permit venturing outdoors. Yet he never complained. He was too happy to be with his grandson to think about anything else.
I was and still am my father’s darling daughter. I remember him carrying me on his back for fun all around the house until recently. In my school days, during rainy season he would carry me across a pool of water to the school building just so that my shoes did not become wet.
During my 10th board exam I was so scared of the subject ‘Social Studies’ that I couldn’t sleep the night before and Papa sat on my bedside telling me stories so that I could go to sleep all the while holding my hand. I said I didn’t want to hold the text book ever again after the next day’s exam and he promised me he will see to it that I never have to come across that text book again. Till date I have not seen that book in our house after that day.
Nothing has changed much in his attitude today. When in hospital with labor pain, I heard my father’s voice over phone assuring me with a choked voice that everything is going to be fine and that the pain will eventually bring the most joyful moment of my life. When informed that there has to be an emergency C-section for the baby’s safety, his immediate query was what about the mother’s safety? Being a mother myself now I know all moms are great. But having seen my father and my husband, I also realize all dads too are superb.
Well. Yes. All moms are great. I knew this before, but now I realize the immensity of the word ‘Maa’. My mother always said that being pregnant is the easiest thing in the journey called ‘motherhood’. After that, every day is a chapter in itself.
I always told Maa that I don’t think I can take care of my own kids and that I can’t imagine how she brought us up. I said I would give my children to her and take back only when they are grown-ups. But it was not to be so. And I now realize why even after working all day and night for us, she was never tired. Always with a smiling face and full of love not only for us but for all the children around.
I remember a thief in our neighbourhood caught red-handed whom everybody had seen since his childhood. He was beaten black and blue by the people and seeing this, my mother and an aunt (our neighbour) shouted “Please don’t beat him like that. Consider him as our son. He has committed crime but please don’t beat him so brutally. We can’t bear to see him like this”. A mother’s heart cried out.
A mother’s role is tough I knew. But had I known the physical transition a woman goes through to give birth to a child, I would have loved my mother a little more. I have already spoken about the fear I had when spotting for 12 weeks straight. Later when I learnt that Maa too had the same symptom during both of her pregnancies, it felt so reassuring. Reading on internet made me feel like a victim but knowing this fact about Maa, I felt as if things were not that bad.
I learnt everything from Maa but do not remember ever talking about how to handle motherhood. What should be done and what not? When pregnant, I was clueless and missed her the most. But slowly I realized that Maa taught me one important lesson in life. “Be a good learner and life will teach you all that is necessary when the right time comes.” She was right. I don’t know if I can be half as good a mother as Maa has been. But I am definitely learning and improving myself with each passing day.
That brings me to the last relationship I want to talk about today. I, me, myself. What a wonderful transition has happened to me since I entered this new phase of life. I found strength in me I never thought I was capable of. My patience has increased many-fold.
And I wonder how I can love somebody so hopelessly. An unknown fear has taken a seat in my heart igniting the protective nature in me to the extreme all the time. I now know why mothers are revered so in our world. Every mother deserves much more. My precious little Santa has made me a better person in all aspect. I found new dimensions in all my relationships. I am more compassionate. And the best thing is that I have stopped being judgmental about mothers.
I have always been a very cautious person where emotions of the person in front have been concerned. But nevertheless, I did give few dissatisfying glances at times to distraught mothers not able to handle children in public places. I often wondered why they didn’t do anything to control their children. Now I understand that you CANNOT do anything to control children when they decide to do what they want to do. My apologies for all those times and this is my way of requesting everybody, who are yet to handle children, that they cannot imagine what it takes to be an exhausted, sleep-deprived, over-working, always on toes parent of children who realize they have their own mind and can follow their heart without giving two hoots to the world.
I was also overwhelmed by all the mothers I know who encouraged me and instilled confidence in me to take up the role of a new mom. I am thankful to all of them and am glad to be a part of this ‘sisterhood of motherhood’. Motherhood refueled in me the zeal to work harder and try my best to make this world a better place for all children. I now find my heart beating in same rhythm as all mothers in the world. I can feel what every mother feels. “Tumhare seene se uthta dhuan hamare dil se guzar raha hai.”
Ending this note with prayers for all children to stay happy and healthy.
Image source: a new mother by Shutterstock.
A woman who is trying to improve herself as a person, a mother, a researcher,
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