- Motherhood is not easy. In fact, let me just tell you this outright – motherhood is bloody hard! And I am not sure why the society (including the women in our family) just do not speak about it enough, except for that odd (but common) scoldings from a disappointed mom,”Yehi din dekhne ke liye paida kiya tha!” From the physical pain of delivering a child (whatever method) to the sleepless nights of feeding (breast or formula), tolls on our mental health, just being there 110% for every need of your baby, managing the family, career and finances – it takes a LOT of work! And selflessness. And sacrifice. It is high time we start acknowledging the efforts mothers put in to bring a child into this world and bring them up and not just in the ‘Women are meant for this’ way and some sloppy Bollywood songs but ACTUALLY treating it as a significant (though unpaid, unappreciated) labour.
- You might not fall in love with your baby at first sight: The first emotion I felt as soon as my baby came out of me and I heard him cry – was of relief. The emotions over next several 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. And like I said, it didn’t happen at first sight, first day or even the first month. It may happen to you or not but please know that it wouldn’t make you any less of a mother – this child is after all a stranger in your arms. All of us fall in love differently but yes, you will one day fall hopelessly in love with these amazing tiny human beings.
- Your mental health will be of utmost importance: 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 whoever 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, your anxieties and your failures if you’re feeling any. Everyone would want 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. Post-partum depression is a REAL thing. 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.
- Breastfeeding doesn’t happen naturally. If you were naive like me, you would believe that as soon as the baby comes out of your body, your breast would start oozing milk like a spring fountain and 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, it took me 7 days of pulling and squeezing in the hospital, weeks of pain and tears, several months of trial and error to establish a breastfeeding rythm. The constant questioning of the milk-making abilities of my breasts or my breastfeeding skills made the matters worse. The reality is – a first time mother and her baby might need time to get used to breastfeeding. A lot of the times they will need outside 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 despite all of the good intentions and efforts, sometimes a woman would really not be able to breastfeed her child and that is normal. A mother prioritizing her own physical and mental health and deciding not to breastfeed her child should be normal too! A fed child is best.
- You will have to deal with a whole lot of shit (literally). And figuratively as well. A normal baby poops for more than 5-6 times a day (it may be more or less but is usually more). Children probably are not going to learn to wash their own butts (and you’d probably not let them do so) until at least they are 4-5 years old. That is approximately 3,030 times more or less 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 multiple installments throughout the day and refuses to let me wash it so I am drowning in that poop smell for several times a day for that many hours. And all I want to do for a change is to spend a day on my own actually smelling some fresh flowers and not have to smell any poop – just one day.And the shit you will receive from other people – 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.
- Nobody will know your child like you – even if you are seeing a baby for the first time ever! 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 somebody else might have raised (even if its your own mother/grandmother) and they might have raised them well but when it comes to your own child, you would ALWAYS know what is the right thing to do – be it matters related to what you feed them, how you bring them up or the values you choose to give. And that is why, you will be the who will always have to stand up for them be it against strangers, family members or at times, even your partner.
- You will lose your sense of self: It has been two years since the bub came into my lives and despite living a fairly full life, if you were to ask me today Who am I, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. 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. 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 had expected to become nor what I would want to continue to be. 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 and it is a sweet feeling. And that sweet feeling would come to you too – just do not lose touch with your inner self.
- Motherhood is not the sole purpose of woman’s life: 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 the only purpose for us to be born in a woman’s body 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, here, are enough.
The first time that I came across the ‘Bois (boys) Locker Room’ incident, I was horrified! My second reaction was, “Well, that’s not surprising!”. In a country (and probably the world) where misogyny is a way of life by way of culture and heritage, it is really not hard to believe that teenage boys from influential schools think so degradingly of women. It is easy to claim that these kids have not been brought up well (despite the fact that they come from wealthy families), it is easier to blame everything on the society, which has also been my usual response as well. But now that I am mother to a son, such incidents have started having deeper impact on me.
- Girls are not your personal property. In fact, any individual, other than your own self, is not your property – not your parents, not your partner, not your spouse, not even your kids! So you have no right to make choices for them nor do you get to judge how they choose to live their life. You always need to respect them, even if they are different than you.
- Girls don’t owe you s**t – even if they are in a relationship with you. They do not owe you their bodies, they do not owe you their beliefs, they do not owe you their intellect, neither their past nor their future. Any part of themselves they choose to share with you is entirely up to THEM and they will always be the rightful owner of it – be it their body or any representation of it. Never you! If something bothers you in this respect, you are always free to talk about it to them or choose to end the relation if your understandings do not match. But nothing, I repeat, NOTHING entitles you to any part of her body, mind or soul. And that is why there can be no place in your relationship for any kind of coercion, violence, blackmail, disregard or breach of trust.
- How a girl chooses to dress does not define her character. How you choose to perceive her or speak about her definitely defines yours. Choose wisely.
- Jokes about sexual assault are JUST NOT DONE! EVER! Neither are threats.
- NOTHING can justify violence, ever! Period.
- Sexism is not cool. Misogyny is not cool. Patriarchy is not cool. What is cool is that you understand the meaning of these terms and live a life in which these systems are not a part of your personality, beliefs or vocabulary.
- It is alright if you don’t end up successful in your life, it is alright if you do not end up as brave or wise or kind as I wish for you to be. What I sincerely hope you do not turn out to be, is a spineless jackass with a dick. Be anything in life but THAT.
Peer pressure is ugly. To give into it is easy and uglier. When the pressure you face is opposed to your value system, no matter how difficult it feels, always stand up against it. Your so-called ‘friends’ will not remain in your life forever but your conscience will. When things get more overwhelming than you can handle, I hope you always come and find me, or anyone else you can trust. If you don’t find that person in your circle of trust, always, always seek a therapist to talk it out. No shame in that, ever!
|A typical Norwegian meal – baked trout/salmon with steamed veggies|
Do you have any message for all the moms out there?
All I have to say is, enjoy motherhood and treat yourself well!
Thank you so much, Priya!
I watch with an inexplainable heaviness when the bub prances around any male adult he meets, trying to garner his attention or trying to gain his approval with his antics, something that should have been reserved for his father. Turns out, he does understands and desires the presence of a male adult in his life. The only blessing in disguise has been that the bub has been too young to ‘remember’ his father or understand the meaning of it. Until now!