Motherhood isn’t a single feeling. It’s a mixture of millions of feelings and thoughts. And they’re equally simple and complicated. A mother shares.
Motherhood sweeps you off your feet. It’s that tingly feeling you get in your heart when you feel your love pouring out of you. When you hold your child for the first time, it’s magical, and you suddenly leave behind your old temper and self, and step into a world of infinite love and affection.
True? Naah. At least not in my case!
Motherhood didn’t hit me at any particular moment. The love for my child didn’t erupt at any particular moment. My heart did melt but not at any particular moment. I became a mother. And that had nothing to do with crossing a threshold.
To be honest, it was a process. A process that started with wanting to be a mother, being nervous, uncertain, a little excited and slowly finding my footing in this new world.
There are too many opinions floating around these days about how ideally a mother should be like, what is an ideal ‘mother-behaviour’ (as if its a thing), how a mother should react, and absurdly enough, how a mother should feel.
So when a mother doesn’t ‘feel’ as per the given standards of feelings, there’s a society imposed guilt trip that follows.
What people forget is, mothers are individuals too. While everyone talks about how mothers should sacrifice, adjust, give up on a lot of things in life, what they miss is, it’s all a choice and not a guide book by which every mother can be judged.
So here are some of the things, that happened in my life which didn’t go quite as per the uptight standards of acceptable ‘motherhood’.
A lot of women glow during their pregnancy. Pregnancy brings about a dewy glow to the skin.
That’s what I had heard. Only, the glow that I had on my face was of light bulb sized pimples and good lord, they did glow!
We have grown up on Bollywood movies where once the woman has an aachar in hand, it’s a sure shot sign that she is expecting.
It might be true for a lot of women out there but, I had two cravings. Just two. Dark hazelnut chocolates and red meat.
I had a C section. I feel blessed that I had it.
My baby was a breech. I didn’t go into labour. I didn’t dilate. So when my kid finally popped out of me, after hearing her cry and knowing the gender, I slept. Not because I was tired from the labour but because I hadn’t slept comfortably since the past 2 months. So, I slept in the OT. While they were stitching me up. And I snored.
An intern of my OB-Gyn nudged me giggling, and asked, “did you just doze off?” And I replied “Yep!” And promptly slept again.
No documentary, no prep talk, no counselling does justice to the absolute confusion that occurs right after the delivery. I kept saying the lactation has not started, the nurses kept coming in and pressing the breasts to check, the shame and the shyness associated with the bosom left my life at that point.
For 2- 2.5 months I was a sleep deprived zombie. I was so desperate to do anything besides breastfeeding and sitting on the bed, that I offered my mother to chuck the maid out, keep me to do her household chores. She refused, of course. But, I was that desperate.
That there would be people giving unnecessary advice, is what I had anticipated. But, that the influx would be of such a magnitude, I had never ever imagined.
From how to breastfeed, to unsolicited advice about what position to feed in, to sleep when the baby sleeps (not practical at least in my case), to using which oil for massage, to what an absolute sin it is to give top feed, to the baby to everything.
After settling in, I joined back at work in 6 months, and because of the way my genetics are and the lifestyle I had always followed, I shed my pregnancy weight within 2-3 months.
I had no idea how both these things are such a looked-down upon aspects of being a mother. Working moms seem to be the synonym for not being a good mom, and shedding the weight simply means a female is too figure conscious and basically, doesn’t eat well. In other words, she diets. Haaaw!
Once I had settled into the grid of being a mother, a working mother, an independent female that I always was, just when I thought I have managed things well, boom! The baby starts walking! With that, the baby starts imitating.
No one tells you that having a kid is like having your karma constantly following you.
Dropped a grape and ate it anyway? Look behind! The kid would be doing the same to her food now.
Came from the office and tossed the shoes beneath the sofa? Ha! Lookie look! The kiddie footwear is beneath the beds and sofa now!
Like taking selfies? The kid would be posing with a TV remote now thinking it would too click pictures.
Like watching Netflix before dozing off? Well, the kid knows. Just knows there’s Baby Shark Do Do Do Do Do Do song on YouTube.
Just like baby turtles know where the sea is, the kids know their rights. And your wrongs. Hence, thats Karna wrapped in your own DNA!
My daughter started blabbering, then calling me mummy, then went on to say papa, then said .. well.. Joota ( she loves her shoes as much as she loves mummy and daddy).
She also says a lot of things now that she randomly hears. So now we communicate in spellings. I wish I could participate in the spelling bee now. Anyhow.
Besides all this, no one tells you how sometimes you are going to simply need some time to just stare at a wall and be. How shitting alone is a luxury because now the spy is constantly on a lookout for all your activities, and closing the door while the kid is outside is an impossibility. I have taken a dump while my daughter is sitting on my lap a dozen times.
All this happens, a lot more would happen. I know what hitting the teenage feels like. I remember what a storm I was during that phase. I know the havoc I created in my parent’s lives. And I know that time too would come. But, as it is said, change is the only constant in life.
The other day while I was complaining and telling my mother how I don’t get any me-time, she smiled and replied: kids grow up. Before you know, she won’t be needing you so much, and then you are going to miss this time.
The way she said it, it was a little wistful. Made me think. from constantly wanting to be physically around the mother, to being a grown up making own decisions and leading own life, does the transformation hurt? How does the mother cope up? Empty nest syndrome, isn’t it?
Nothing gives me more joy than being around my child. Nothing tires and drains me out more than being around my child. Both the things are true to the core.
When someone asked me a few days ago how has motherhood been treating me, I couldn’t give a one line answer. I just smiled. Motherhood isn’t a single feeling. It’s a mixture of millions of feelings and thoughts.
When I speak with friends who aren’t parents yet, and they seek an answer to when is the right time to have kids, I just say one thing. Have a kid when you feel is the right time. Not when your parents want, not when your careers are at a particular stage, not when only one partner wants it, don’t listen to the infamous lines: just have a kid and we will look after it. Because, no one can feed, smile, live and breathe for your child. Have a kid when you are ready so that when the above 10 point check list happens in your life, you know it was your own decision and can find humour in the situation, identity the infinite love you are capable of feeling and laugh the blues away.
A version of this is first published here.
Image source: pixabay
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