Thoughts Of A Tired New Mom As Her Infant Sleeps In The Darkness…

In our culture, men take control and dictate our well-being. So for the men, only a mother can fulfil all the baby’s needs. It’s no one else’s job!

She pulled the light-blocking curtains. Her breasts were leaking. The left one was larger than the right. She lay beside him while he suckled continuously. He tapped her bare stomach. At times, he tickled her belly button. Within seconds he fell asleep.

Gently, she pulled herself out of the bed. She unrolled her yoga mat and sat down. She felt her chest going up and down with every breath. She was tired. She experienced excruciating pain in her wrists. She rotated both her wrists to release some tension in the muscles. Yet, she wanted to get into the ‘crow pose’. She wanted to see if she still had the strength to balance her body with her hands. She tried a couple of times and she held her feet high up, pointing to the sky. Her entire body weight was on her palms. She balanced herself. She took one deep breath, smiling, at her achievement, despite the aches and pains. 

He was up again. Turning in bed.

She ran to the bed and tapped him back to sleep. He resisted and kept kicking her. His kicks didn’t hurt much. She offered him her breasts again. He suckled. His eyes shut. He lay still. She tapped his forehead again.

He was asleep. 

She sat on her rocking chair holding her journal to her chest. Unscrewing her pen’s lid, she gasped!

These days she writes only when he sleeps. She could hardly see what she was writing. The room was too dark for her eyes. Yet, she scribbled words in her diary.

Writing calmed her down. There was no other way to do it. She had been writing her journal since she was a little girl. In school, she even wrote love letters to herself. Nothing could stop her now. She’s almost thirty five. She wrote when the reviewers rejected her academic papers; when men made snide comments at her in her lab, when her childhood traumas haunted her; when her parents bickered with each other; when The One refused to accept her and when she gave birth, unmedicated, feeling really close to nature, all by herself. 

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This time her journal read, “Mothers continue to see themselves as “just mothers”. As if mothering was their primary and only responsibility. Jane’s chimps travelled across the forest, foraged for food, stored food, cleaned themselves, had babies, protected their territory and yet found time to simply sit with their daughters and relax. They multitasked effortlessly. Our evolutionary history tells us that females have always multitasked.

Then why do human beings find it so difficult?

I think it’s the culture and the way society looks at us, moms (and women)!

After becoming mothers we forget who we are. Our culture forces us to live differently.

Our culture tells us that moms must prioritise the child’s well-being at all times. And that it’s bad to take a break from family duties and rituals. Since there’s no one else who’ll do it for us, there’s no help of any kind. Asking for help also seems too much at times. The ever increasing prices of nannies, daycares and schools have us all feel overwhelmed. The system doesn’t take care of a mother’s exhaustion.

With chimps, the babies grow up in a matriarchal group. The group provides protection, food and shelter. It’s not just the mother’s responsibility anymore. The baby chimp is everyone’s responsibility. Chimp babies are well protected and fed together by other female members of the troop while the mom naps.

With human culture that doesn’t happen. Despite us finding our ‘mommy support groups’, these groups aren’t real support systems, we can’t leave our babies with these groups. At the most, these groups will provide an ear to our venting and may help with a word on schools or help in organising a birthday party by sending numbers of decorators. But that’s pretty much it. In our culture, men take control and dictate our well-being. So for the men, only a mother can fulfil all the baby’s needs. It’s no one else’s job!”

To see the light again, she’ll have to wait till the baby wakes up. Then she can try the crow pose once again. However, she knows she wouldn’t be able to do it as easily. It’s not because she gave birth after two days of labour – pain so intense tantamount to breaking every bone in her body. It was because, the baby will have to be fed, cleaned and looked after. 

When she tries to relax on her yoga mat letting go of it all, the baby will climb on her chest and say, ‘Mamma! Mamma!’

“Where are the women in power?”, she screams in her head. 

Why does it feel so anti feminist to have a baby, after all? 

Image source: Sergiu Valenas on Unsplash

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About the Author

Madhushri Mudke

Researcher and Writer in love with forests, fitness and fashion. Former community based physiotherapist. Currently, a PhD candidate at Ashoka Trust for Research of Ecology and The Environment (ATREE) and Zoological Society of London's read more...

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