Am I a Good Mother~ A Thought that Results in Sleepless Nights!
Disclaimer: I am not trying to create any fear around motherhood. But when you feel stressed, anxious, and depressed, simple issues turn out to be massive challenges. This is why you must be in control of your emotions and vent out if you're feeling anxious or depressed for any known or unknown reason. #SpeakUp
When I used to read quotes like:
“Having children just puts the whole world into perspective. Everything else just disappears.” —Kate Winslet.”
“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” —Robert Browning.”
“The moment he wakes up from a nap.… Just a gummy mouth, no teeth, just a big smile, happy that you’re alive and you’re just looking at him. That’s probably the most magical.” —Jessica Biel.”
I used to believe that motherhood was nothing but a blissful journey where there were nothing but smiles and giggles. But it was only until I became a mother. I had quite a painful journey from pregnancy to delivering a baby.
I was separated and heading toward a divorce, so my stress levels were at their highest. And my last trimester was all about itching, stretch marks, endless cold and cough nights.
I felt as if it was the end of the world. But when I saw my daughter for the first time, although I couldn’t move, I can still clearly remember tears rolling down.
I had become a mother of a beautiful precious girl, “AANYA.”
Here is a little backstory for those who don't know me. I believed in manifestation only after my daughter was born. Whenever I used to talk about having kids, I always said I wanted a daughter, and her name would be “Aanya.” Guess what? It was around 10 years ago. That's what I call magic!
Even though I was alone, this blessing helped me put myself together.
But it was only after becoming a mother I understood the dilemma. The fact that we look for validation that we are good mothers constantly made me wonder, “why?”
But why am I saying all this?
My daughter came into the world pretty early. On the auspicious day of “Lohri”, I was blessed with a daughter like her. However, it was a C-section, which was quite painful at first. I had no knowledge about motherhood. I didn’t prepare myself for the uncertainty. I didn’t read books or watch videos on how to handle things. Whatever I learned in the last 5 years was experiential.
But had I given much thought, the journey would have been less painful, mentally and physically. Since all the attention went to the newborn, many families stopped thinking about the emotional health of new mothers. This is why postpartum depression and anxiety are at their all-time high. Everyone wants a mother to act a “CERTAIN” way, which makes it quite intriguing and exhausting for mothers.
I remember I couldn’t say, "I am feeling low, of course, for obvious reasons.” But the fact that everyone thought, “this happens to a mother. So I wasn't feeling anything out of this world”, made me feel as if my emotions, turmoil, and challenges were even right to discuss.
Since I kept it within myself, I was almost on the verge of postpartum depression. I remember the nights when I used to cry for no particular reason. I used to get angry and felt as if nothing was right. I kept thinking, “I am a bad mother.” It was only in 2020 that I felt “Enough is enough.” I am doing my best.
The fact that we believe “motherhood is all about sacrificing your dreams” makes it wrong from the first go. Unlike what anyone says motherhood is about growing together with your child and learning new skills to boost your personal growth.
You aren’t a bad mother if you think about yourself, your dreams, aspirations, or ambitions. You are a bad mother if you aren’t psychologically making yourself available for your child. You need to be approachable and not accessible all the time.
“You define your own definition of motherhood and follow it. Never let anyone make you feel otherwise.”
But what’s all the hype around this dilemma?
Why do you think mothers feel like this?
The mental weight of doing everything perfectly makes a mother worry constantly. Well! I am not talking about making dinners or breakfasts. It's more about making everyone happy and being constantly worried about their needs and aspirations that you forget about yourself.
In other words, the endless list of small tasks alone drains all the energy. Still, many of us end up asking, "What could possibly go wrong?"
After all, it's all daily chores that a woman has been doing all her life. Isn't it? I am not even talking about postpartum depression or anxiety here. The occasional daymares and euphoric highs cross my mind due to incredibly dark thoughts. It's mostly the tag "women ought to be perfect" that makes motherhood daunting.
Well, it might sound like, "what a failing mother!" After all, for everyone, it's such a blessing that keeps the race growing and progressing. No wonder why mothers are treated like God.
But did you know that's the root cause of all the problems women face when entering motherhood?
Let's take an example of a post some years back where a mother did the daily chores even though she had an oxygen mask. Was it projecting love, or was it showing the true face of humankind?
No matter how she feels from the inside, a woman has to stay relevant to the image that's been cast inside others for centuries. What is that? She is the epitome of sacrifice.
I talked to fellow mothers I have known through LinkedIn and asked for their perspectives. Here’s what they said!
💁♀️ Nivedita Mishra: She has over 22 years of experience in content writing helping brands, organizations, and individuals looking to communicate their stories in a purpose-driven manner. Here's what she said:
"Overwhelm, Exhaustion, and Insight. Motherhood stretches one's bandwidth like no other human experience. I was overwhelmed by the birth of my children. At the time of delivery, I felt a strong and direct connection with the Divine since, at that moment, the mother and child are completely in God's hands.
I have been exhausted by repeated school performances and functions, forced conversations with other parents, and the unending stream of tasks a mom is expected to enjoy. Continuously learning more about myself as a parent, I have understood myself as a mother slowly in 19 years.
Children are independent of their parents very early if you respect them enough.
They showcase the best and the worst of you. They can be your best friends and worst critics. Like phantom limbs over which you have no control, they are the itch you cannot always scratch.
Motherhood is an entirely personal and customized journey for each person. Not everyone is cut out for it.”
💁♀️ Vagisha Arora: She is featured In the Top 10 Content Writers Of India and is a well-known freelance writer for SaaS, eCommerce, and customer success. She is also a public speaker. Here's what she said:
Am I a good mother? This question doesn't really overwhelm me because it is never a question of being a perfect mother. The idea of motherhood revolves around taking care of your child in the best possible way and not perfection at every step. It is not about taking all the right decisions for your child's well-being.
It is about loving your child unconditionally and it is okay to make mistakes in the process. As long as you are trying to fulfill your responsibilities to your kid, the question of how good you are should not overwhelm you. The degree of goodness cannot be measured but the degree of happiness your child feels in your presence matters more. Hence, focusing on bonding with your child is much more important than anything else.
💁♀️ Aaina Chopra: She is a working mother who is a physio turned writer. She is one of the leading content creators on LinkedIn. Here's what she said:
"Am I a good enough mom? I have pondered over the question more times than I can count and one thing that I have come to realize is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PERFECT MOM.
I have no qualms in admitting that I am not a perfect mom. Truth be told, I don't want to be one. I am quite happy with the way I am mothering my kid. Maybe I need to get a little bit better at dealing with this nagging feeling of guilt that somehow manages to still catch up with me from time to time. Other than that, I am fine.
I still vividly remember the time when my daughter was born, I left my full-time job as a Physiotherapist (by choice) and found myself on a journey as a writer. That was the time when I used to beat myself up for every other thing that went wrong. Literally everything.
If she puked, I would blame myself. If she had more screen time on a given day, I would have a sleepless night that day. Now when I look back, I feel it's funny how we mommies forget that raising kids is no picnic as portrayed on social media. It demands real work. Especially if you are working alongside, it becomes all the more exhaustive trying to juggle so many things at once. The mothers and kids that we see so put together on social media are all an act.
Me being a stay-at-home working mom, five years into the journey now, I still have moments of getting washed over by this overwhelming emotion of guilt. But, I have come a long way from the time when I used to be a 24-hour guilt-ridden mom and I am proud of it. I now understand that parenting is hard and we are only human.
One thing that I try hard is not to let any unrealistic expectations get in the way of finding my joy in motherhood. Still learning. After all, it's a slippery slope."
💁♀️ Shipra Khosla: She is working freelance now and had an amazing career streak with the State Bank of India for more than 8 years. Here's what she has to say:
"When I was pregnant with my twins, I actually believed that my life ahead will be only full of smiles, happiness, and bliss but my experience tells me otherwise.
I believe that the answer to the question "Am I a good Mother" lies in how people around you make you feel after you give birth to your kids. Women are let down for not being able to breastfeed, or if your baby keeps crying even after a feed, they are made to feel bad about not being able to produce enough milk.
If a kid's behavior is not up to the mark, or they don't get potty trained at the right time, or can't write properly, or stammer while speaking, a mother is judged on everything. Being a mother of twins, I strongly believe that parenting skills are not the only factor that determines how your child turns out( my kids are totally opposite to each other) I know that people believe that we give utmost importance to our kids after giving birth, but the reality is that everyone and everything around us seeking importance (which leaves us with no option but to ignore ourselves the most).
I guess whether we are career oriented or not does not make a difference here, the people around us can make us feel like bad mothers anyhow. So the best option is to stop bothering about others' judgments and try to do whatever makes us feel happy, be it focussing on our career or just being an "at-home-mommy “. Making mistakes and learning from our own experiences will actually help us grow in life.”
What's my take on this?
If you ask, what this question implies in my case, here's what I would say.
I was being questioned for my motherhood antics. Since it was different from what society expected, I faced more than just burnout. Debates and arguments became a part of my initial years of being a mother.
And since I took around 1.5 years of maternity break, I kept questioning myself,
❓Should I go back to work?
❓Will it be fair for my daughter?
❓Should I leave my daughter at home to start my career again?”
Things like these kept bugging me.
So, if I say honestly, I felt I wasn’t a good mother back when I started working. However, it was all in my head, more than what the people expected from me. Women are conditioned in such a way that when they do something out of the expectations, they start overthinking that “they aren’t enough.” That’s where the story of burnout, anxiety, depression, and clinical disorders start surfacing.
Unless you say that something is hurting, no one will know. We live in a mindset that women can take it all. It’s you who needs to say “NO.” We are humans like anyone else.
And the fact that we have literally been born again after the delivery requires us to care for ourselves like our child.
Yes, the child is dependent on us. We are always there.
But as a family, you must assist or support bathing, sleeping, and diaper changes. You can also be helpful and allow women to get maximum rest so that they can stand again and be ready to take on the tasks she wants to do. And the responsibilities don't stop.
Infuse all the habits in your child so that they understand your work is equally important. Focus on quality more than quantity.
👩👧 I planned my day according to my daughter’s schedule. So, I try to complete most of my tasks before she comes back. I delegate my household chores. Most of it is done by my mom and the maid. So, I don’t have to worry about these tasks. You can also delegate and never let anyone say, “you have to do all of this on your own.”
👩👧 I usually eat my lunch with my daughter so we can talk comprehensively about her and how it was. This helps me understand her day-to-day life at school.
👩👧 I complete my work around 4 pm, and we go out for her tennis and dance class. During this time, I walk for 45 minutes, and during the rest time, I either read or talk to my friends. I give ample time to my self-care.
👩👧 We come back. She plays, and I rest a while. Then we sleep together. This helps us develop a bond that isn’t possible during work days. Storytime allows us to put some thoughts together and craft a new story. That’s usually our fun time.
My focus is entirely focused on scheduling my day ahead and including my interests along with what my daughter likes.
Remember, YOU DO YOU. Do what suits your life.
Never follow a path that someone else lays down for you. I understand the idea of dealing with the thought of "perfectionism around motherhood" makes it overwhelming. But, if you #SpeakUp, nothing will go wrong.
So, are you a good mother “in your own” eyes?