Where do I even start here? Most mothers the world over are the primary caregivers to their kids in addition to being the home makers. Someone very wise said that such women should be given 7 times the pay a man gets, and this job ladies, is no joke. Then why do I see women all around me sell themselves so short? I mean the drastic changes both physical and mental during pregnancy, postpartum blues, breast feeding, sleepless nights, the incessant changing of nappies and nursing during illnesses (without any regard for your own state of being); simultaneously juggling the cleaning and cooking and washing up, being the teacher and the mentor… it’s mind boggling what we do.
Gradually something starts happening. Joy is sucked out of your life, and you become this husk of your previous jolly,outgoing and robust self. Your health goes down as does your motivation. Whether you like it or not, these subtle changes start to bleed into the raising of your kids. Do not underestimate the ability of your kids to pick up on your moods. You become more cranky, impatient, sloppy; and it makes for some stressful situations. Not a good thing at all.
Good news is, the crisis can be averted.
1. You are not Perfect: You know you want to be, but realizing your limitations and working well within them is way better than trying to reach out towards things you can’t- just can’t do. The sooner you realize that having 3 kids is preventing you from hitherto doing the tens of other jobs that you could do when you had just one, it would do you good to adjust accordingly. And mistakes are made: always; the important thing is to learn from them and move on. Someone once said to me, “A mother is best for her kids.”
2. Don’t Compare: Ah the vice of comparing, we moms are more prone to do this when it comes to our kids. We want each of them to do better than all the rest and sometimes do crazy things to get them to be like that, even if that is not want they want nor is it where their true talents lie. We compare ourselves to the mom next door who looks oh so picture perfect. But if it’s the one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that everybody is sailing in rocky boats through uncharted waters, no matter how beautiful the sails may be.
3. Ignoring Yourself: The act of self neglect is a crime- can’t put it any other way. We moms do it all the time. We skimp on our food, we lose sight of our health, our passions, interests. With some effective self contemplation you can do an even more amazing job at raising your kids, if you take a little time out in taking of yourself. So go ahead and read that book, take those walks and go on that diet, splurge on that face cream for the the frown marks. Complete that unfinished project. It’s not easy but the first step is conjuring up the will. When you look more joyful and healthy, you are setting a good example for your kids, especially daughters.
4. Losing Sight of your Ambitions: We all dream, there’s no harm in that. As young adults we aspire to towards some goals. It goes without saying that your kids do come first, but losing sight of your long term goals in life just make you less of you. It may not be possible to get there all at once, but baby steps, maybe its a course in something or the other, maybe its starting a book club, maybe its even writing a book. If you have the determination, you can achieve your dreams.
5. Discussions with your Spouse: Which brings me to this topic. You both are equal partners in crime and having said that, it is a duty that both of you should discuss not only the mundane of the everyday, but also about your hopes, desires and aspirations; and then be supportive. Even if it means that it can’t be done in your particular set of circumstances (we women have mastered the art of self sacrifice), making your life partner listen, and making him realize your sacrifices (without sounding contemptuous) is what makes for a solid communication gateway.
6. Feeling Guilty: In life, at one point or another, we fall short of our own expectations. Forget coming up to the expectations of others- that my friend, is just never going to happen. We beat up ourselves about it, people around you may make you feel self doubt, sometimes it gets so bad that one starts blaming oneself in everything that life throws. You need to take a step back and ask yourself, what can I do to make it better? Then do it, and get over it and move on.
7. Losing Faith: And moving on is no easy task if your faith has wavered. You have to trust that all will be well, but only after you have given it your very best. Stay connected to your spirituality, and feed on it, plant it, nurture it. Let go of the negativity. Do what you can and do it well. Then leave the rest to fate, trust that it will be for the better. Don’t lose hope in the divine, stay positive. Take refuge in the bounties already bestowed upon you, the tiny things we take for granted. Seek refuge in the beauty of nature, in the smiles of your children, of the providence in your life.
8. Not Setting Boundaries: I mentioned above that most women become a master at self sacrifice, but you really need to set healthy boundaries. We keep saying yes and yes, even going past those yeses, but at what cost? If it leads to self harm, you need to put your foot down. I’m all for co-operation and goodwill among family, be it yours or your partner’s, your neighbours, or your friends. But certain people cause too much inconvenience and if it comes at the expense of your well being or those of whom you love, you need to put a foot down.
Whereas in today’s cut throat world, it is no easy task to be the primary provider and caretaker in this competitive era, it would be nice to be appreciated, to have the acknowledgement that we too are not useless and provide an essential function. We mustn’t lose ourselves, a happy mom, is a good mom- the best mom you can possibly be.