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While being a mom may seem fun and games, it is probably one of the hardest things ever. Here are eight things about motherhood no one ever tells you!
In our society, as soon as you are married, everyone starts nudging you to give them the ‘good news.’ We have all been taught consciously or sub-consciously that to bear a child is the greatest gift of God. One that is bestowed on women and it is our utmost responsibility to make optimum use of that blessing. We are told that no other way would justify our existence on this planet.
So, everyone displays a great interest in what we are upto. The mother figures in our lives even track our monthly cycles. We are constantly bombarded with images via family anecdotes. Media and social media have the happy pictures that motherhood is this big, rare, exhilarating part of your life without which you are incomplete.
However, there are a few things these well-meaning folks forget to mention when they pester you to have a baby. I could only list out eight, for now, but I am sure there are many more.
In fact, let me tell you this outright – motherhood is bloody hard! And I am not sure why the society (including women in our families) refuse to speak about it. We are rarely told about it except for the odd but common scolding from disappointed moms, ‘Yehi din dekhne ke liye paida kiya tha?’ (Did I give birth to you only to see this day?)
From the physical pain of delivering a child to the sleepless nights of feeding – formula or breastfeeding takes a toll on our mental health. Just being there 110 percent for your baby’s every need, managing your career, the family and the finances, all this takes a LOT of work! And selflessness. Not to forget, sacrifice too!
It is high time we start acknowledging the efforts mothers put into bringing a child into this world and bring them up. Not just in the ‘women are meant for this’ and sloppy Bollywood song way, but actually treating it as a significant (though unpaid, unappreciated) labour.
The first emotion I felt as soon as my baby came out and I heard him cry was relief. And the emotions over the next few weeks were a mix of pride, fear, guilt, worry, amazement, gratefulness. But it took a long time for me to fall irrevocably in love with the bub – the kind they tell you, you would feel for your child.
Like I said, it didn’t happen at first sight, first day or even the first month. Whenever it does, or doesn’t happen to you, please know that it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. After all, the child is a stranger in your arms. All of us fall in love differently but yes, one day, you will fall in love with these amazing tiny human beings.
If you were naive like me, you would believe that as soon as the baby comes, your breast would start oozing milk like a spring fountain. You’d then cut to an image of a happy mommy feeding a happy baby like we have seen SO MANY TIMES in all of the media representation of this act.
The reality is starkly different. It took seven days of pulling and squeezing in the hospital, weeks of pain and tears, several months of trial and error to establish a breastfeeding rhythm.
The constant questioning of the milk-making abilities of my breasts or my breastfeeding skills made the matters worse. However, the reality is that a first-time mom and baby may need time getting used to breastfeeding.
A lot of the times they will need help in the form of supportive medical staff, family members and probably a lactation consultant. The mother’s metal health also affects the milk production significantly.
There is likely a possibility that in spite all of the good intentions and efforts, sometimes a woman is really not be able to breastfeed her child. That, too, is normal. A mother prioritising her own physical and mental health and deciding not to breastfeed her child should be normal too!
Well, figuratively too. A normal baby poops for more than five or six times a day – it may be more or less but is usually more. Children are not going to learn to wash their own butts (and you’d probably not let them do so) until at least they are four or five years old. That is approximately 3,030 times of you having to deal with smelly poop firsthand (pun intended)
My son is at a phase where he has forego his potty training and now likes to poop in his pants/diapers in instalments throughout the day. He refuses to let me wash it, so I am drowning in the poop smell several times a day for hours. All I want to do, for a change, is to spend a day on my own, smelling some fresh flowers and not having to smell any poop – just one day.
Then there’s the shit you will receive from other people. The unsolicited advice on parenting, motherhood, how kids were raised in ‘our times’ and I could go on and on. It will take lots of time, patience and courage but learning to ignore is the best skill you will ever develop when it comes to this facet of parenting.
Even if you are seeing the baby for the first time ever, you will just know! They don’t call it a ‘mother’s instinct’ for nothing. It actually has a deeper and scientific meaning attached to it.
No matter how many kids anyone may have raised and raised them well, when it comes to your own child, you will ALWAYS know what is the right thing. Be it matters related to what you feed them, how you bring them up or the values you choose to give. That is why, you will be the one who will always have to stand up for them – against strangers, family members or at times, even your partner.
It has been two years since the bub came into my live and despite living a fairly full life, if you were to ask me who am I, I wouldn’t have an answer. My life before the baby, seems like another lifetime or even someone else’s life. I do not know what songs I like to listen to or what movies I like to watch. Now, I am always at a loss of words when you would ask me to talk about myself or to talk about anything else other than my child.
Needless to say, I have also become that mother who dishes out free parenting advice every opportunity she gets. This is not really what I expected to become nor what I wanted to continue being.
Now with the bub growing, the lockdown days have given me a chance to explore my interests better. I am reading more, taking up some e-courses and just learning what made me special, all over again. Trust me, it is a sweet feeling. This sweet feeling is one that would come to you too – just do not lose touch with your inner self.
It must be, though many times it won’t be. Yes, no one will tell you this and probably almost everyone will not acknowledge it or even ignore it. But allow me to tell you and I hope you are listening to me carefully. When you become a mother, your mental wellness is likely to go for a toss and that is why it is very important for you to be aware about it.
Take your partner/parent/friend the person you trust in the most into confidence and tell them to keep a check on you regularly. Talk to them about how you’re feeling, tell them about your fears, your guilt, anxieties and failures if you’re feeling any.
Everyone wants you to be a happy momma and you would be, in your own time, but if you aren’t feeling so, speak to someone. It is perfectly normal to feel so. See a counsellor if that’d help you best. So many of them provide online services now so you wouldn’t even have to step out of your room.
But do take care of yourself. Try to do something that makes you happy every day, even if it’s just five minutes of listening to a favourite song.
It is not necessary for you to give birth biologically to justify your existence as a woman on this planet. You can choose to adopt or have no child at all.
Motherhood is not our only purpose as women and it will in no way ‘complete’ us. You, on your own, are perfectly happily a complete being.
Have a child only if you really WANT to. Also, please know, if you do not want to have a baby or for various reasons are not able to have one – in no way does it make you any less from anyone else. You, right here, are enough.
I wish when we talk to women on motherhood, we are more open about our struggles. And I hope we can facilitate a culture where it is safe to express our negative emotions on this journey as much as we are expected to share our positive experiences.
Motherhood and non-motherhood is equally tough. It is only through dialogues, transparency and positivity can us help create a society where being our selves is considered the greatest blessings of all. A society where, irrespective of the roles we choose to play in our lives, we are considered complete.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Good Newwz
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I am a Development Consultant, PhD student of Social Sciences, Military spouse and a feminist
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