As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I was hardly an angel while growing up. I was rebellious and angry most of the time and was only in a good mood when there was something good to eat. I was the poster child of angry difficult teenagers and did everything opposite of what my mother would tell me to. And during the very many battles of wits we had, there was one single dialogue that my mum would always throw my way, “You will pay for all of this when you are a mother!”. At that time, as an emotional hormonal teenager, I used to think that “My own mother is cursing me?! Oh! What a travesty!” (You see the flair for the dramatic runs in my family :P) But now I know for sure, she was only stating a fact. And the fact is, ladies and gentlemen, if you thought your life is tough, then buckle up for the ride of a lifetime, because parenthood is just opposite of what you thought it would be. 😛
I was watching a comedy sketch the other day by a very funny British comedian about parenthood. He was mentioning how nerve-wracking it becomes when your child leaves your field of vision for just a couple of minutes. You immediately start hyper-ventilating and if you don’t find them in the next few seconds, you would definitely suffer a nervous breakdown. You could tell who in the audience had children and who didn’t. Those who didn’t have children were laughing because they found the whole situation trivial and funny, but those who had children were nodding along and laughing nervously because they could relate to it, and in some cases were reliving the horror of losing their children! That’s why modern world has come up with the ingenious solution, “the kiddie leash”, which might look inhumane, but for many parents it is the only way. And that is only for when they are little and their tiny legs cannot take them too far. Cellphones and other mobile devices work as kiddie leashes for when they grow up and the need to keep a track of their whereabouts is overwhelming. Yet the feeling of utter helplessness never leaves you until they are back home from their schools/colleges/friend’s homes/malls or anywhere else they go without you. And hence I know now what my mother meant all those years ago when she, while shaking with barely contained fury, lifted her finger to my face and said, “You will pay for all of this when you are a mother!” I know she was not cursing my guts, only stating facts. 😛
So… Motherhood! Ohhh it is just one of those things that us women like to moan about.. ugghhh.. ! 😛 First of all, let me address something that has been bothering me from the time Agastya was born. The fact that there are so many books and so much material online to read through about pregnancy and childbirth, but there is so little about the part that comes after all of that? That is so unfair! Because pregnancy and childbirth is actually a walk in the park on a warm Sunday afternoon as compared to what follows later. None of the books or articles or blog posts forewarn you about how terrifying it is when you have to provide for a little human who communicates with you through incessant crying and of course their poop and wee-wee colors. 🙂 But don’t worry, you figure it all out by yourself by the end of the 3rd month. Because by that time you get used to the sleep-deprivation. 😛
I have been asked many times by my friends who are mothers and those who are trying for a baby, what my biggest challenge has been yet as a mother. Well! Let’s see… I gave birth to Agastya, by c-section, in Johannesburg. He is our first baby (and definitely the only one ;)) and our parents couldn’t make it to SA at the time of his birth. So all of a sudden we had this tiny bundle of pink with us and all the hours we spent reading up on the books like “What to expect while you’re expecting?”, seemed wasted. Because unfortunately, it was not mentioned in those books “What to do when your baby is here, and you are as constipated as a goat! When its only day one and you already feel like a failure because you aren’t producing any milk to feed your baby and he keeps crying out of hunger but you are strictly advised against bottle feeding him. When he gets a freaking fissure on his little baby bum because you over-dressed him and has to be put on antibiotics at only 2 weeks old. When after 4 weeks, your body finally catches up and the ever elusive milk decides to make its appearance and you are absolutely ecstatic to feed your child but are still crying yourself to sleep every night because… you know… “hormones”. When you were not ready to see your abdomen sagging like a half full sack of rice (that brought upon another bout of tears :P). When its been 20 days since you had your last meal with any condiment other than salt in it. When you are so sleep-deprived that you nod-off while feeding your baby. When you haven’t had a decent shower or dressed in anything but night gowns in 6 weeks.” Phew! (I hope these details aren’t that gory! :P) Anyway these things I learnt on my own, the difficult way, through trial and error but they were still not my biggest challenges. Those were judgmental people and their misinformed opinions. And I am sure many of the mothers out there can relate to my ordeal.
Well I have been asked questions such as, “Why are you feeding Agastya bottle milk?” AND “Why is he not putting on any weight? Are you feeding him enough?” AND “Why are you always so tired?” to “Why are you losing weight so fast? Are you dieting at the time of feeding your baby?”. The most recent ones are, “Its been more than 4 years since Agastya was born, why haven’t you joined back work?” and “Its been more than 4 years now, plan for another baby. Don’t join back work!”. Sometimes I am being paranoid and overprotective, other times I am not being protective enough. Sometimes I am overreacting and other times I am not reacting enough… so on and so forth. Its an everyday thing now and mostly doesn’t even register anymore (just like the pain in my foot after being stabbed by rouge pieces of legos strewn about by my little brat :P). But it was difficult as a new mother, struggling with so many things simultaneously and being told you are not doing enough. And my sleep-deprived mind wouldn’t even come up with an appropriate/inappropriate retort (it still won’t). 😛 People do not know this one thing about mothers, we take every single word, said in contempt or otherwise, to our hormone ridden hearts. And many mothers out there are suffering from much deeper and serious issues than being unable to produce breast milk. Some are just better at hiding their problems than the others. Moreover, every time we fail at the smallest tasks, the mom guilt slaps us upside our heads. 🙂 So you see, we can do just fine without all the unnecessary judgments from those who are not and will never be in a situation same as ours.
What I am trying to convey is that there are no rules here, no rights or wrongs and certainly no winners or losers. We can be traditional mums or the modern ones, we can be old mums or the young ones, we can be stay at home mums or the working ones, we can be those mums who feed their children organically produced vegetables or those who believe that a piece of cake or fried food once in a while won’t make any difference, we can be those mums who strictly limit screen time or those who depend on screen time to get a few moments of peace. Motherhood is so freaking difficult and different for every mother and child, but we cannot give up… can we? Because these are tiny humans we are talking about! They are completely and utterly dependent on us, for being fed, bathed, and generally to be kept alive and healthy. 🙂 We are trying to bring up wholesome well-adjusted individuals who preferably would recycle and hopefully not turn out into serial killers :P, and that takes a lot. Most of us mothers are doing the best we can, as much as we can, stretched beyond the limits of our physical and mental capabilities. So, please be supportive, be kind, don’t judge, don’t provide unsolicited advise, don’t roll your eyes at us and when we say “You don’t know what I have been through!”… trust us, because you seriously don’t know what we’ve been through. And when such thoughts come to your mind, just remember “Mum’s the word”! 😉
Happy Mother’s day everyone! Appreciate your mum today and acknowledge her sacrifices. It will mean the world to her!