A close friend Ellen recently announced she was having a baby. I was ecstatic when I heard the news. I was happy and excited for her all at the same time. January has been the month of the stork b’cos this was the 4th news I was receiving of someone having a baby, or delivering one. While I excitedly congratulated Ellen, I realized she wasn’t on the same plane as me. “Whats wrong?” I asked. And it all came pouring out…
Most first time mothers I know, have at some point or other confessed how pressured they feel to Act, Think and Feel like a mom thanks to social norms. I can understand that, as I faced quite a bit of the same society-conditioned attitude when I became a mother. Hell yeah! I face it even today!
“You are a mom now, you must stop acting like an 18 year old”
Hullo! There’s no age limit to how young one feels!
“ You just ate the child’s candy, and you are her mother?!!!”
So? I need a sugar rush too. I am human!”
“ What?? You have been bouncing on the trampoline! What are you? A 5 year old?”
Ummm.. yeah. The girl inside me is alive and kicking, you know…
And this ones my favourite “ Oh! You are a mother!!!! You don’t look it!!!!”
How exactly are mother’s supposed to look?
I mean… why can’t people leave us alone? Isnt there enough to handle already? The arrival of a baby, the nappies, the lack of sleep, the hormones, the baby blues, the confusion and the anxiety of fitting into a completely new role ! Moreover, dealing with diapers, tantrums, and the terrible twos is nothing compared to the complex inner struggles of being a mother. Isn’t there enough on the plate already?
Then comes the free-advice. Free advice, which, if not taken seriously, is sure to offend the advisor. Hold the baby like this, feed the baby like that, wash him like this, keep him warm like that.
Please! Could I learn from my own experiences?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not being disrespectful to well wishing elders and those who genuinely mean to help! I just want to state, there’s a limit people shouldn’t cross.
Motherhood is a learning curve. One minute you are swathed in the ecstasy of finding out you are pregnant. The next moment you are feeding, washing, swaddling a wailing baby. At this time you are way out of your elements, still trying to figure what just hit you. This is an emotion that’s unique to moms. No one else is going to understand it.
There are times when you don’t like your kid. Yes it happens! It happened to me more than once at various occasions. There are times when you hate your child so much that you break down in tears out of guilt. But then you calm down and realize you love him so much too. There!! Time to feel more guilty for thinking otherwise!
Fact no 1# Its medical proven, most new mothers harbour ‘unloving thoughts’ about their child from time to time. This does not mean you are a bad mother or that something is abnormal with you. It means you are human. So don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty for any of this.
Its essential to allow the father to parent the child from time to time. We as women are conditioned to think and feel that if we don’t do it, it wont be done right. When I was a new mom, I would feel guilty if I caught myself dozing off while my husband or family took charge of our child. The pressure and jibes of nosey family members, pesky mother- in-laws, and ignorant friends add to all this.
Fact no 2# Your partner and you have created the child together. He is as much in it as you are. As much a novice as you are. Learn together. Share the joys together. Preserve a sense of mutual respect. A father wont know the physical pains involved in feeding a baby from time to time, but he is definitely better than you in carrying and swaddling. Use this time for yourself. Get a piece of your life back. It will only benefit your partner, child and you in the long run.
Its also important to consciously practice how and when to let go. This is difficult, and people around you will label you as irresponsible or uncaring and insensitive. Ask them to shut up. You cant raise your child in a bubble. As much as we are adults and have the experience, we need to allow the little ones to see and seek out life on their terms.
Fact no 3# Its OK to fall. Its OK to scrape those knees. Children need to experience more than just motherly love. Ever wondered why a kid loves it when daddy throws him around the house? What seems like rough and annoying to you, actually makes the child happy! Its essential for children to grow on every level of the graph when it comes to forging relations. Its OK to make friends and form bonds with people other than you.
Last and most important, stop trying to be a supermom. These only exist on the celluloid and in the ambitious recesses of your head. Its fine that you have a child now and that your priorities have changed. You are in a responsible, demanding and challenging role and there is no going back. But that does not mean you kill all the fun. You are still a person with an identity. Don’t allow yourself to get so merged up with your childs life, that you forget your own. Its nice to let your hair down once in a while. Its ok to have a night out. Its alright to not know all the answers. Its OK to make mistakes.
Fact no 4# A ‘cool’ mom is way better and likeable than one who is trying hard to be perfect and struggling to meet standards set by society.
The aim should be to bring up a child that is happy and independent and self reliant. And this can only be done when you as a primary parent are happy and independent and self reliant. So give yourself a break. Don’t take motherhood too seriously. Live a bit. You maybe a mother now, but you are a human first. Its OK to cry, to break down, to want to break free. Its normal to want to go back in time. Its OK to feel like taking off on a drive with your cell phone switched off. Its fine to want to feel like an emotional fool and reach for another cupcake.
The fat can be burnt, the guilt is stored.