Oped

Mummy is not a bad mother

  • Stop guilt-shaming overwhelmed mothers who just need space
- PALLAVI DHAKAL

Dec 31, 2017-I think I speak for a lot of women out there when I say--the respect for our mothers increases a million fold after we become a mother. Despite the nausea and tiredness that comes with pregnancy the whole experience is still fun. But what happens post pregnancy is something that no one prepares us for. No matter what people say, the journey is difficult and it affects us deeply, which is why we start to look at our mothers in a different light. 

Millions of women become mothers every day. Because it’s biological and has been happening since as far back as we can remember, motherhood is something that we all take rather casually. Mothers have not complained, they have not made excuses, and even if they felt the burden of motherhood, they’ve silently persisted. Frankly, there have been days where I have despised and resented being a mother. There I said it! This does not mean that I  love or care for my little one any less, but I am sure many will jump to guilt-trip me and tag me a bad mother. 

Why is there a stigma attached to conversations regarding the weight of motherhood? In this wonderful journey, there are moments when we hate being a mother. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of happiness too and all mothers will share this view with enthusiasm. For me, holding my newborn for the first time was surreal. As a mother the most profound joy for me came in the simplest of things: when the little one makes eye contact for the first time, when she wakes up in the morning and gives her signature smile, when she first says mama, rolls over etc., the joys continue. However, there is the flip side to all of this too, and its awful. Mothers are reluctant to share this awfulness of motherhood for the fear of being shamed and judged. 

We are an emotional havoc post-delivery. There are so many emotions involved that it is difficult to process. Yes, it’s part hormonal but there is also the other side. The process of labour is in itself in the most traumatising experience that a woman goes through. The scars heal but the abdominal, back and pelvic pain continues for many women even years after delivery. Then there are the sleepless nights and moments when you have no energy but still you have to muster the courage to push yourself to care for your little one. And your body changes in so many ways that it is difficult to recognise yourself. There is also the lingering fear of your child dying--suffocation, starvation, random objects etc., you probably never lived in such fear and it can be draining. Months down the line, you still despise your body. You’re out of shape, clothes don’t fit, you have ugly scars, your boobs are no longer perky, and you have to deal with the constant needs of a little human being that does not let you eat or poop in peace. There’s no denying that each one of us endures this negative side of motherhood to a certain degree. So why guilt-shame mothers for sharing?

To all the women out there, it is okay to talk about all the bad stuff too. It doesn’t make you less of a mother and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. Dear society, stop scrutinising mothers, if anything, there are two parents who are supposed to raise a kid. Create a space where it is ok to share freely how awful she feels being a mother. Don’t roll your eyes if she slacks a little or complains. Fathers, she just needs a break, so step up and enjoy fatherhood. And everyone else, stop with the guilt-shaming. 

Mothers will forget because once the kid is grown, these minute breakdowns are thing of the past. The joy of seeing the baby grow and thrive is enough to overshadow the fleeting pain. Perhaps this is the reason we persist despite difficulty and we prepare ourselves for the second and third baby; because joys overshadow the pains. So, in that brief instant of motherly distress, for the wellbeing of the mother, let her share how tormented she feels, how she despises her life, how tiring and annoying it gets and keep our judgmental eyes shut. Instead encourage her, tell her she is doing good, and that it is just a matter time and the feeling will pass. Most importantly, tell her it’s normal and her feeling negative doesn’t make her a bad mother--she is just a little overwhelmed!

- Dhakal is a communications consultant by profession, and a mother

Published: 31-12-2017 08:22

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