Mothers are complex, volatile, apprehensive and extremely emotional beings and I’m no different. Mothers are not perfect but motherhood does come with a lot of self-imposed pressure – to be on one’s toes and know the right thing and do the right thing for the children all the time. If something doesn’t go by the ‘rules’, the ‘big’, ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ guilt sneaks in every now and then.
Tell yourself this everyday – You’re not perfect! Nobody is! And the one rule to being a great mother is that there are no rules! Every child is different and every experience is unique.
Here’s what I’ve learnt from my 3 years of motherhood. And this is not a rulebook, but just my experience of what I’ve learnt to do and not do to myself, to keep some sanity intact in my otherwise eventful life:
1. It’s OK if you don’t fall head-over-heels for your newborn: When I learnt that I’m going to become a mother, I started preparing myself mentally with all the reading up and joining of social groups of first-time-mums, to pick up from their experiences. But I didn’t know what was coming my way until I had my baby and I took a break from work for the first time in 9 years! Reality struck and I slipped into post-partum depression and it turned my world upside down. I wasn’t ready for this change. I felt angry, frustrated, extremely emotional and exhausted. I wanted to run away. I wanted to sleep for days. The change was enormous and I wasn’t ready to deal with it physically or emotionally. Moreover, (this might sound horrible), I did not feel instant love for my baby. I only felt very responsible towards him and took care of him tirelessly. Love happened a lot later and that’s OK. Today, when I look back, I cannot imagine my life without my son. There is no rule that tags you a horrible mother because you took time to come to terms with the new reality. It’s a different experience for every mother and love does happen, sooner or later.
2. It’s OK to put yourself first: Being a mother isn’t easy. Like every parent, I’ve seen my mother juggle work and home and putting me and my needs first. In that process, she completely forgot to have a life of her own. Her world revolved so much around me, that after I got married, she was deeply affected by the sudden void and her recovery was long and arduous. Now, I’m a mother of a 3-year-old boy and I am aware every single day that it is very important to connect with your inner self, give yourself ‘me time’ to feel like any other normal human being. I love my son unconditionally and I will always tend to his needs to the best of my abilities. But, putting myself first doesn’t make me a bad parent. My husband made me realise once that our son will grow up one day and go about living his life independently and that’s the way the world works. Simple.
3. Don’t quit your dreams: As a mother, you have the right to make all the choices that make you feel comfortable and at peace with yourself first. I made a choice to go back to work only after 3 months of having my son. I felt guilty every second of my life, to have left him with a nanny and resumed office-work in full swing, but I learnt to grow out of it gradually. I realised that I cannot stop working. More than financial, it was an emotional need and it helped me get out of depression. It helped me regain my confidence and purpose in life. But, even if you decide to quit your job and be a stay-at-home mother, it should be entirely your choice, without a trace of guilt.
Going back to work was the hardest thing for me but I don’t regret my decision. I continued to work for 3 years thereafter, and now I’m a work-from-home mom. It doesn’t mean that I’ve quit my dreams or am taking it easy at all. But I want to accomplish something else in life that couldn’t have happened without this pivoting. This also allows me to strike a balance between work, self-studying and my son and gives an elevating sense of self-control and freedom.
Motherhood doesn’t mean that you and your baby be joined at the hip and that you sacrifice everything that defines your existence. Do what makes you happy in your head and heart and it’ll reflect positively on your child as well. Ignore the unsolicited advice that interferes with your peace of mind and just keep it simple 🙂