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Be Kind To New Moms; They Already Have Enough To Deal With!

Posted: September 8, 2019

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A mom needs to be happy herself, to be able to raise happy and well-adjusted kids. Stop being judgemental towards her!

When was the last time you truly enjoyed being judged?

Chances are you’ll say- Never! Then why does this behaviour come so naturally to us, when it concerns other people? Why must we sit on a high throne and shoot out nasty little missiles into the world?

It is an innate human need. To label, cluster and attach a meaning to everything in our environment, in order to make sense of or justify our own actions.

Judging a new mom

The one stage of life where every woman must pass an ‘Agni pareeksha’ of caustic taanas (snide comments) and judgemental icicles is the most popular free for all arena – of working after a maternity break. And do you when it hurts the most? When your own kind turn on you.

Yes, I’m talking about a small and strange tribe called the ‘mean mahila mandal’!

Call it naïve, but I’ve grown up with the belief that there are nicer people in the world than bad. But pasting your opinions on someone never cost a dime and I don’t see it getting any dearer in the future.

Imagine, a time when you are on the precipice of an entirely intimidating and new life. And you have a battalion of loud albeit well meaning voices driving you insane. These gems could come from grannies, neighbours, friends, to even rank strangers.

Here are the usual suspects

If you didn’t want to take care of your child, then why did you have one?

You can’t expect maids to raise your child!

How can work be a bigger priority than your child?

What kind of a mother leaves their child in a day care? The clincher is: Phika phika padaa rahega/gi (He/ she must be feeling lost without you).

You’ve got the rest of your life to think about yourself. Your child needs you now.

Give the poor woman a break!

No ladies. A woman needs to sort herself out and be a happy mother first, in order to raise a happy child. That’s where it all starts.

If it was left up to me, I would make career and reintegration counselling or even post-natal counselling a government mandated law. It would save thousands of women the torture and dilemma of trying to raise a human being on one hand and fighting to retain a sense of self on another. We wouldn’t even have so many mental health issues in that section of the population.

A personal story

I briefly went through a very dark patch myself, post my maternity break, when I was unable to join back full time and had to take a long break. I eventually decided to start consulting instead, in the effort to carve out some flexibility, and accommodate my writing as well. During these times the comments that used to hurt the most were the ones that surprisingly came from women. Laden with censure, guilt trips and unconstructive comments.

Once, my daughter (who was very young then) brought a friend home who was rather excited about a little bit of TV time that I allowed my daughter once a week. The mother turned up with a sour face post work and dragged her home, saying, “You don’t work so you have no clue how badly I miss spending time with my daughter. TV can wait.”

I understood how she felt but she reduced my position at home to some pitiable, pathetic decision that deprived me of the status a working mother enjoyed. That hurt.

Just stop with the judgement!

Creches, day care, maids, relatives, friends, dogs, or just sitting at home with the kid and watching reruns of Akbar Birbal! Whatever caretaking resource a parent decides on is the best they can do and we should make our peace with that without being prejudiced or caustic.

Now, as I look back from where I have reached in life, having managed my child, my work, my books, and all my responsibilities with equal panache, I wonder if perhaps the negativity fuelled me towards my destiny.

Over the last few years, I’ve met incredibly kind, warm and helpful women who at times even feel like sisters. As women, don’t we all share so much in common anyway? From puberty to childbirth and beyond, we all walk similar landscapes, traversing the same peaks and troughs on our journeys. If anything, that should make us most empathetic, specially towards each other.

All I want to say to that opinionated and not so kind mahila mandal oft lying somewhere deep inside us- Come on, ladies. Drop the Lalita Pawar act and transform into Reema Lagu! It’s time to stop talking and start embracing your tribe.

Image source: shutterstock

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After chasing criminals as a journalist and spending over a decade in advertising, Richa penned

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