Ideally, this article should have been about pregnancy during a pandemic, how I dealt with it, how I managed without any family support but my husband and how it turned out. And, ideally, this article should have come out a few months ago but we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? I am a new mom who is terribly lagging in life in general. I keep trying to catch up but sadly, I find myself failing. A lot.
I read a quote somewhere and it resonated with me so well that it’s stuck in my head. It said: “Being a working mom is not easy. You have to be willing to fail at every level”.
Let me be very clear that this article is not at all an attempt to glorify motherhood or/and to paint myself as some martyr who is doing it all and doing it well but this is more an account of lessons learnt as a 30 something new mom who works as a freelancer and is failing at a lot of things but still staying afloat because of a thousand pieces and people that are working together to help her in their own ways.
Dear Bollywood, Moms Are Humans, Not Goddesses
First things first, we need to stop glorifying motherhood. The media, especially Bollywood (the Indian film industry), has been aggressively glorifying motherhood for ages. For example: In Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi, Anupama (Sanya Malhotra), the protagonist’s daughter, says,”Maa ko bhagwan ka nahi, bhagwan ko maa ka darja diya jaata hai.” (Moms are not equivalent to God but God is equivalent to moms.) Another example can be the epic Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham scene where Nandini (Jaya Bachchan) ‘instinctively’ understands that her son Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) is back home. Mothers don’t have such ‘supernatural powers’ and this is a perfect example of unrealistic portrayal of motherhood in films. This kind of toxic glorification prevents society from seeing mothers as human beings who can very well commit mistakes. Moms are put on high pedestals and the expectations that come with being a mom are thus extremely unrealistic. Plus, the pressure that it puts on women is simply unfair. I felt it too and this pressure along with postpartum hormones is not a good mix.
When my daughter was born earlier this year, I was expected to know everything. “It will come naturally” – this was the most common response I got when I expressed my concerns about not knowing how to change a diaper or how to feed a baby. I mean I got three degrees and completed two internships before getting hired as a Trainee Writer at my first job ever that paid me peanuts and made me write shoe descriptions for an eCommerce company. How in the world am I expected to conceive, carry, birth and raise a child without any guidance at all. Where is this divyagyaan (ultimate knowledge)coming from? Please treat moms like humans and guide us through this journey. We are humans, we need to learn, and we deserve the margin to err.
Social Media Sets Us Up For Disappointment
Now, don’t get me wrong I love being a mom, in fact, I am proud of that fact. However, if you don’t already know it, let me break it to you. Instagram, Pinterest and movies are lies. Research has shown that moms who engage in social media comparison feel overwhelmed and less competent, and more depressed than moms who don’t. We see motherhood through filtered (pun intended) lenses on social media and television. We see moms “bouncing back” to size XS, babies and moms twinning in sponsored clothes and everything looks so effortless. Well, motherhood can be many things but it is most definitely not effortless- at least not for me. There is a lot of effort that goes down every single day.
“Momfluencers”, you need to do a better job; If you have taken it upon yourself to be a peer leader and be the ones we “follow”, do better than selling diapers and giving away toys. Show us your real journeys, and talk about real issues. Flaunt the good days by all means but also discuss the struggles. If you were working out five hours a day to “bounce back”, tell us that you had three nannies or mom-in-law or mom and sisters taking care of your baby. Don’t make us feel like fools and think- how does she get the time to do all that and then look like this without any help?
Thankful For My Virtual Village
Enough complaining, it is time to share some positives now. I was alone, yes. In Singapore, I was far away from my family back in India. I conceived in July 2020 right in the middle of a global health pandemic where movement restrictions and lockdowns were the norm. There was no help, no support around. However, to be honest, from pregnancy to delivery and postpartum, have I really been alone? No.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we did have one- it was virtual but it was there and it meant a lot. Both sides of families, friends, and relatives were on video calls day in and day out. Bosses, seniors and colleagues allowed us the time and space to nurture the new life with utmost patience. In fact, on that note, I want to give a special shoutout to all my editors that I work for around the world for being so kind and patient and allowing me the time and space to fight my life’s worst writer’s block. Support means a lot during this journey and it can come in any form- flexible work hours, extended deadlines for submissions, an e-gift voucher, a bouquet of roses, a phone call, a text- anything. I am glad that I had my virtual village during this time, and I wish and pray that every mom gets hers.
Signing off with one of my favourite Tina Fey quotes: “Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.”