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Whoever said being a mother was easy? Unless you think juggling 24*7, grappling with self-doubt and sleepless nights is easy! Yet, here’s the beauty of it. Read on!
It was my last official day at work and I was eagerly looking forward to my pregnancy and the subsequent motherhood stage. It was on my way back home in the company shuttle, when I received the most powerful Motherhood advice. Ironically, this came from a female colleague – in her early 20’s and unmarried! She had an elder sister who was a stay-at-home mother of two children. Based on the keen observations of her own sister’s life, she imparted her expert, golden words of Motherhood wisdom to me that day –
“Let me tell you, Motherhood is going to be very hard and it will really test your patience. You have to be very …very…patient all along. As a mother, the most important quality you need to possess is Patience. Never lose sight of it.”
Little did I realize then, how true and timeless her words are! It made sense back then in time, when I had my newborn baby in tow. As it does today, when my daughter is almost 8 years old! And, I am pretty certain, her advice will hold water in the coming years as well. Maybe, for the longest period of time. Perhaps, dorever! Because as they say – “Once a Mother, always one.”
To keep me from losing my sanity to Motherhood, I find rescue in my secret tool of ‘Patience’. And girl, trust me, I had to use this insanely powerful tool to get past so many hard stages of being a mother. Like so many!
Here are some of them.
It starts with the nine months of pregnancy. From morning sickness to the ballooning of your body, your body is not solely yours anymore. It is the shared space for another life…another being…your child! And as mothers, we take this uncomfortable phase gladly because of the over-whelming joy and excitement, all the more if it’s the first child. But, there is no doubt, pregnancy is a hard stage, especially for mothers who have kids in quick succession.
When it comes to labour, it is a very raw, gruelling experience, that takes a toll on your body. Your body does not look the same anymore. From breasts that get saggier with each pregnancy to the increasing rolls of fat layers around the belly, not to forget the cellulite! Pregnancy changes the entire roadmap of your body. Like literally! It took upto a year for my body to regain its original shape. Well, almost!
It is especially hard when others body shame new mothers heartlessly, knowing fully well, that it takes far more time for some to lose all that flab. Some of us have a hard time struggling to knock off their pregnancy weight. Some have sleepless nights over the marked loss of hair post pregnancy. It is very hard at times, to face the harsh realities around bodily changes. Some of course, make a conscious effort to get their original bodies and thus, their confidence back. But, the body struggle is just hard!
Ever heard the expression ‘Mother of Sorrows’? It refers to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ from ‘The Bible’ and considered the mother of all mankind. Since she is the mother of all humanity, her heart is never at ease, always concerned…always worried…always sorrowful for her children.
Well, in the life of normal mothers like you and me, who are saddled with the responsibility of looking after maybe 1 or 2 or 3 children, we are no strangers to sadness and depression in some form or the other. Mild, acute or chronic!
For starters, the very first night I brought my baby home, I immediately flash forwarded to 25 years down the line. When my daughter would be either be married in most probability or be far away from me, living in some other town. The mere thought itself brought big, fat, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. The love and attachment was already so powerfully strong.
Again, as much as I loved holding my baby finally in my arms, I was experiencing conflicting emotions. I remember the first week of motherhood was super depressing for me. I was not able to cope with the sudden, rapid change in lifestyle and responsibility. Those sleepless nights trying to soothe my colicky baby! Every night for four long hours, all I did was walk around the bedroom, with my eyes half wide shut open, singing every possible song I ever knew and trying to rock my baby gently to sleep. By the end of the first week, I just broke down into tears uncontrollably, overwhelmed by utter helplessness and loneliness. This despite the fact, that I was living in my mother’s home and I had all her help. Yet, it was hard and the hormones weren’t exactly helping my cause either.
But thankfully, the postpartum depression didn’t last for more than a week in my case. But, for those who struggle with this form of depression, I got a glimpse of it in that first week. And all I can say is that the condition and feeling is very confusing, disorienting, alienating and highly depressing.
Mothers are more prone to worry, anxiety and depression. Even if it does not get out of hand, it is hard to cope with.
No one warned me that being a mother was akin to being a juggler. But a whole lot worse. Be it the circus jugglers or bartending jugglers, they have it much better actually! Their juggling act lasts only for a couple of minutes at any given point of time. The juggling act is either stretched to a couple of minutes over the course of the day or is a one-time performance that lasts for an hour, at the max. Not to forget, they get paid for all their jugglery!
But, we poor mothers, as always, get the raw deal. During my time in California, I had a Mexican friend who received the news that she was pregnant for the third time when her second child was only 5 months old. And her first child was 6 years old. She was depressed by the news of her third pregnancy because not only was it unexpected but the responsibility of looking after three kids was daunting, to say the least. She was already having sleepless nights and juggling between the responsibilities of two children. Her husband had a very busy work schedule, leaving her all by herself to take care of the home and the kids. All through her third pregnancy, she was perennially worried about doing the harder level of motherhood jugglery. For those who care to know, the mother- in-question is doing a beautiful job of juggling time between home, kids and herself. But I am sure, she finds it hard.
“Who am I?”
Rather, “What am I?”
Better still, “What have I become?”
I was a stay-at-home mother for six years in the US and for the longest period of time, I questioned my identity and the purpose of my life. “Was my life revolving only around cooking, cleaning and taking care of my baby and husband?” It was hard to see other working mothers who had family support head straight back to work and who seemed like they had it all figured out.
Young, educated and talented mothers find time slipping by, as the only intellectual work they do anymore is cook, clean, baby-sit. They also feel an extreme sense of guilt, of letting their education and career wither in oblivion.
On the other hand, working mothers are suffused with ‘Mommy guilt’. Whether they are working at office or from home, they feel they are never fully there for their kids. They are judged for their decision of placing their careers over their babies. They also find themselves perennially caught in a Catch 22situation between home and family. They know too well that Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi voiced out their painful realisation when she said famously, “Women can’t have it all.”
Damn, it’s hard either ways!
I took my 18 month old baby for her first wedding to my hometown in Kerala. While there, one of the relatives told me,“Motherhood is such a thankless job.” I refrained from replying back to him that I wasn’t looking after my child for appreciation. The nature of a mother’s love, as such, is to ‘to give’ and not ‘to get’.
Anyway, there is some truth in what he said as well. We give so much of ourselves as mothers to our children, right from the time they are babies till they are grown up. Husbands and children can take the mother for granted, many times, without understanding the magnitude of thought, time and effort that goes into most of her actions.
“Why is the house so messy?”
“It is all Mommy’s fault”
“ What do you do all day?”
Being a stay-at-home mother seems like the coziest and loveliest job in the world for many people, including our husbands. Let me tell you, having been in both the boats, being a stay at home mother to an infant or toddler is a lot more exhausting than working outside in any office.
At home, we are perennially multi-tasking. Cooking with an infant in hand, watching over your baby round the clock etc. Also, work always crawls at a snail pace thanks to constant tantrums and the child’s constant need for love and affection. I remember I did not sleep in peace for a single night for two consecutive years since my baby was born. Constantly changing her cotton diapers in the middle of the night and waking up early in the morning as she is an early riser. Yup, even earlier than Mr. Sunrise himself.
Being a mother is hard when you feel like everyone in the family is taking you for granted, making you feel misunderstood and unappreciated.
Well, that was just the list of all the hard aspects of Motherhood. But, that’s just one side of the coin. Flip it over and you will see a bright, sunny side UP to Motherhood.
Pretty pretty please! Just stop!
Whoever said motherhood was easy! It is not!
And that’s what makes it so beautiful! And that’s what makes You so beautiful!
To your children! To your husband! To the world around!
You make the home and the world a better place!
You, who were ashamed of your body, has housed, nursed and raised beautiful living bodies.
You, who cried many a tear, many a night, is the wondrous cheerleader that brings a big smile on your children and husband’s faces.
You, who were exhausted to the point of dropping on the floor, wondering if you have any more stamina and energy left to carry on, is the inspiration for your children and husband. For your perseverance, tenacity, grit and unmatched supreme sacrifice!
You, who questioned your own identity and purpose in life, gave so many their own identity and purpose for living.
You, who feel time slipping by and you are missing out on Life, you are living ´The Life´ – smelling the roses and deriving happiness from the little pleasures of life which cannot be bought from any pricey luxury in the world.
You, who question your worth and feel unappreciated, is the rock, the pillar and the strength of the family and the home.
My Beautiful, Always remember that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
So, that just makes us all, the Queens of the world! How powerful and empowering is that! We should be proud of our beautiful selves and pat our own backs for making things that seem so hard, so beautiful in our own sweet time.
I am reminded of my husband’s words, every time I find the going hard – “99.9 percent of what our daughter is… is because of You!”
And I know instantly, Life is beautiful, Motherhood is beautiful and I am so beautiful and blessed!
Blessed to have been there to witness and participate in all my baby’s little and big milestones. When she turned over the first time or uttered her first word or took her first step, my heart leapt and skipped a beat. All those priceless moments of doing craft together, taking vacations, baking together, theme park hopping and so many more are forever etched in my heart.
Like a tiny plant sproutling that takes years to offshoot into a huge, gigantic tree, I know love and patience will go a long way to see my rewards of motherhood labour come to fruition.
So, at every arduous stage of Motherhood, keep telling yourself – “Yes! It´s hard…but just hold on and hang in there. This too shall pass….”
As for me, I wouldn’t have Motherhood any other easy way. And, I can bet, so wouldn’t you!
First published here.
Image via Pixabay
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Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award (2019) in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘
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