When we decide to have children, as parents, we have our own aspirations for them, and desires of how we want them to grow up. As the world develops, we make choices changing with the times, that affect our children and hope that they learn from those choices which will sometimes have both, positive and negative consequences. We also look at the country we are raising our children in, and sometimes wonder if this is the right place for them. We judge the levels of safety, protection, opportunities, resources etc for them in our country. We look at freedom of speech and the freedom to make choices; not only do we judge the opportunities that they will have growing up, but also as adults.
Womens rights have been a long standing issue and point of discussion, all over the world. From education and the right to vote, to working women, equal pay and violence, womens rights have become fundamental human rights. They have become a way of life in most countries and have changed the way countries work, for the better. Having said this, there are still countries where women are denied their rights in many areas, and India is one of them.
Living in India, each woman rightly has her own opinion on various topics concerning mothers and their rights, like abortion or female infantacide and therefore the law against sex determination. Is abortion 'right' or 'wrong'? Female infanticide in India due to archaic beliefs of a certain section of the country, led to a nationwide ban on sex determination while the mother was still pregnant. How did this help? One would think that the inability to determine the sex of the child would increase the female infanticide once the child was born. Mainly due to the fact that the mother and her family were not given the right to determine the sex while pregnant. If they had been, maybe they would have made a choice to abort the baby by the legal 20 weeks (which also has its restrictions to an extent). Whether or not giving families the opportunity and right to make this decision during pregnancy, again has debating views. But is that better than giving birth and then resorting to female infanticide?
Abortion and female infanticide is not the main topic of my article. I bring up womens rights and a mother's right, due to the Surrogacy bill which has been passed, and has been a disappointing and controversial topic for women throughout India. For years, the surrogacy laws in India have been undergoing continuous revisions. It is common knowledge that surrogacy in India has been embraced by people all over the world. It has been a popular avenue undertaken by many celebrities as well. Therefore in the past, there have been no strict terms and conditions regarding the marital status and sex of the person wanting to have a child through surrogacy. Women use surrogacy as a business, becoming a surrogate birth mother only for commercial purposes. Are there opposing views on this from people? Of course. Some believe that women should be able to do whatever it is to support themselves, whereas some believe that becoming a mother just to 'sell' the baby (even if the child is going to a good family), is an unthinkable thing to do.
There are women who have no other source of income for reasons we as outsiders may not be aware of, and have therefore decided to become surrogate mothers, even though they may not already be mothers themselves. Who are we to judge? Surrogacy clinics regulate this process and if they do it right, the process is smooth ensuring that the birth mother gets what she needs and the baby is given to a good and happy family.
In November 2016, a bill was passed to abolish commercial surrogacy, at the same time imposing restrictions on who can actually be a surrogate mother and who can adopt a surrogate child. The only reason that a couple can even consider having a child through surrogacy, is if the couple is infertile; removing a couple's choice of how they want to have a child. Over and above this, unmarried women, single parents, homosexuals and couples living together, cannot consider having a child through surrogacy.
India has always been a country where the systems and processes in place are 'imperfect', for a lack of another softer word. This is not to say that other countries aren't; we have a million examples staring at us right in the face even today to prove this. But living in India, I can only look at some of the tainted systems, here. When faced with a serious, sensitive and challenging issue, we more often than not have a tendency to push aside the actual issue at hand and focus on the surrounding non-essential points, just to make things move faster and arrive at a solution. Are we addressing the main issue in this case? Surrogate clinics and agencies have not been registered till now and therefore face a lack of regulation, thereby leading to encouragement of exploitation of surrogate mothers by them. They have also been known not to provide copies of contracts to the adoptive parents. Is this something that surrogate birth mothers and adoptive parents need to suffer for?
Where does the real issue lie? Is it such that, like other systems and processes in India, this too cannot be streamlined and regulated on a deeper level, with the easiest route to a solution being taken? Why take away the rights and choices of unmarried women, single parents, childless women and homosexuals all over on how they want to have a child? How is allowing a single parent to adopt from an orphanage or agency, different from adopting a child through surrogacy? How is taking away the right of a woman regarding her source of income, a sign of fairness?
When our children grow up, I am sure we all hope that they are not denied any fundamental rights when addressing the way they want to have children of their own. Married or unmarried, married or divorced, homosexual or heterosexual, I would want my children to be able to make their own decisions, without obstructions at every corner.
Questions can be thrown at the existence and features of the Surrogacy bill from all angles. The sad part about this is that we call our country 'The Better India'. According to me, the word 'better' should signify strength, good health, compassion, happiness, freedom and most of all, development; development of our country to reach new heights that other countries have. With bills like this being passed and even considered, I worry for the future of my children in today's India.
What are your views?
Women’s day. One day in the entire year to recognize, applaud, pay tribute to and honour women, and their contribution to society. It is a day dedicated towards glorifying women or ‘superwomen’ all over the world; mothers, sisters, daughters, mother –in-laws, sister-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, cousin sisters, aunts and so on. But the day comes to an end and the recognition fades away; this is the sad reality. Do we really take the time and make the effort to recognize women in their various roles in society on regular days as well? How do mothers as women, contribute and make a difference in the lives of their children?
We are sometimes made to believe that mothers are ‘required’ to make sacrifices, in order to be effective. Is it necessary to sacrifice being a friend or sacrifice working, to be a mother? I believe that mothers today can be whoever they want, do whatever they want and whenever they want. Mothers today are breaking barriers and reaching new heights in their quest to fulfil the dreams and ambitions they have. This is what I would celebrate on women’s day and every day.
To me and numerous others, women’s day, mother’s day, children’s day etc is every day. Upon hearing this, one might think it sounds cliché.... which it is; but nevertheless, true. This is something I strive to ensure my children keep in mind, and will continue to do so growing up. Children view their mothers as role models and base their perception of women on them. They imitate every action they see around them which also includes the treatment of how individuals (in this post, women) should be treated; whether in their home or outside.
I came across a video on Facebook today by Vaya India, where men were asked to describe the favourite woman in their life in one word. The following were the words used – strong, beautiful, sexy, smart, charming, caring, daring, independent, inspiring, soft, strict, bold, funny, fantastic, cool, warm, perfect, and great. Many of these words are what I want my children, especially my son, to always remember. Strong, daring, independent, inspiring, bold, are some of these words and are seldom used in the context of women.
How we portray women to our children is of utmost significance in today’s profoundly changed world; a world where no one and nothing is sacred. Yes, on one hand, this is something that fathers should ideally focus on drilling into their sons heads. However as mothers, it is as much our responsibility to teach our sons that women are empowered individuals, who are not considered as being the ‘backbone to a man’s success’ but successful themselves. It is our duty to teach our sons that their sisters, girl friends in school and future wives are equal and capable individuals, whose boundaries are to be respected, and who in return will respect them. A father leading by example is of course the best starting point. I recently heard a 3 year old tell his mother that a girl in his class was playing with a cricket bat and ball and was that not meant only for boys? I don’t think there is any age that is considered ‘too young’ to start imbibing these values.
So in light of all the women’s day greetings and posts all over social media, the one thing I want to say to all the mothers out there is this – “Mothers are kickass, strong and selfless women who inspire others to be better human beings every day. Extending this inspiration and motivation to our children means raising our daughters to be them (strong women), raising our sons to know them and for us as mothers to always be them.
Evolution is a way of life. It is defined as the gradual development of something....anything. I apply it to everything in my life, be it relationships with my loved ones and friends, work, or me as a person. Evolution is a natural process.
Motherhood is a learning process, and is one that mothers embrace over time. It is rare to find women who immediately ‘fit’ into the role of a mother the minute her child is born, especially without any guidance and support. It is a milestone where women go from being a daughter, sister, wife etc to a mother, a role which has been put on a pedestal by people for generations. The evolution required by a woman to fit the role of a mother is phenomenal, and moreover is required to evolve with the times. Can we survive motherhood today, in the 21st century, with the guidance and support from mothers from previous generations? Is modern parenting still possible?
‘Millennial mothers’ are raising their kids in the age of the digital media and they don’t know a world without it. Our parents would call them ‘kids these days’ and would define millennial mothers as those who stare at their iPhone screens more than they do at their child. I would agree with this to a certain extent. But how do we define this changing face of motherhood and how do we differentiate millennial mothers from our more primitive allies? The average age of a first-time mother now is more than in previous generations. So is age a factor and an important feature of a millennial mother?
As a first-time and new mother, Google was often an angel and a devil in my life; it used to be my bible. From questions on how to put on a diaper for my child, to how long he should be sleeping at different ages, Google was permanently open on my laptop and bombarded with questions. After a point, I would not even remember to check which website I was clicking on, as long as the information I needed was at my fingertips. Did I think about asking my older and more seasoned family members first? Of course, but as a second thought. My main concern was whether or not they would be aware of all the new information out there and modern techniques, to be able to find the most effective solutions. I would have rather been influenced by other millennial mothers. At that particular point in time, ‘experience is the best teacher’ was something that did not exist in my mind. It took me some time to realise that what you read, is not always what is best or even necessarily true; a harsh reality that my child’s paediatrician pointed out to me after some very unnecessary ramblings. I am a millennial mother.
‘Any healthy food’ for children, is no longer sufficient for mothers today. Neither is ‘clothes that fit’. Local & international brands have evolved over time – clothes, makeup, food, electronics, furniture and more. Every corner we turn, we see various brands showcasing themselves and can practically see desire being created on the spot within people. We see often that the price of a certain product is no obstacle for people, especially mothers, who are brand conscious and believe that a certain brand is better than another for their child. Our mothers raised us in a world where food was food, clothes were clothes and diapers were diapers. It didn’t matter what brand they were. My favourite brand of clothes for my child is Carter’s. I am a millennial mother.
Apart from a woman’s role as a mother being made more comfortable with help from the millennial father, having a full-time babysitter at home is a way of life. This does not mean you are employing the babysitter as a substitute in your place to parent your child, but to be an additional caretaker who can give the mother some space to do be someone else for a while. If I had asked my mother when she was raising me, what the word ‘space’ or ‘full-time help’ meant, she would probably have not been able to give me a straight answer. Babysitters are given work which mothers in previous generations would have never thought of NOT doing themselves. My child has a healthy and comfortable attachment to his babysitter, who is like family to us. I am a millennial mother.
I have never wanted to let motherhood consume me 100%; and I never have. Even though as a mother by definition, we never have a ‘punch-in’ and ‘punch-out’ clock, there is something known as ‘me-time’. I need ‘me-time’ every day to be an effective mother and this is something that is encouraged by my family (husband, mom-in-law, mom etc). I am not sure what mom-in-laws in previous generations would have to say about this. I am a millennial mother.
Finally, moving onto the decades of discussions on working mothers and their journey through motherhood, the desire and ambitions of millennial mothers to be a part of the working class are more powerful now than in previous generations. Reasons may vary; wanting to be a tycoon in the corporate world, have an outlet and something else to focus on for a part of the day other than being a mother, or just to pass time. But the willpower and determination that millennial mothers exhibit to accomplish their dreams, is unlike any of the previous generations.
Are we all millennial mothers today?
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. We have all learned Newton’s Laws of Motion at one point or the other during our education and applied it mainly to Physics. I have however tried to apply this to all areas of my life, unrelated to Physics. Commonly, when people have problems in life and feel powerless to solve them, this third law of motion is utilized to try and improve the situation.
I have learned from my own experiences that when you direct positive words, actions and energy (‘positive energy’) at someone, the same positive energy gets thrown back at you. The quality of your thoughts controls your actions. If you have a negative mindset, your actions immediately start to follow suit, and thereby the energy directed at the people surrounding you becomes tainted with negativity.
Try and think about how this applies to mothers. We all begin our journey of motherhood with the intent to be calm, level-headed, fair and happy mothers; not only for our own sanity, but for the main purpose of setting a good example for our children. Do we all become OUR mothers? No, because as we evolve through life, we learn to judge right from wrong and make our own decisions on what to teach our children, however keeping in mind how our parents raised us. We most definitely learned from them every step of the way. As adolescents, we watched them closely and mimicked their words and actions every minute of every day. Everything positive and negative would have been picked up and ultimately embedded into our subconscious, waiting to thrust through the surface at some point in the future.
We want our children to be healthy, happy and free. Simple as that. For them to be so, their mothers need to be healthy, happy and free individuals. No one can deny that every family has its own set of problems and setbacks; however I have always been a firm believer of people being responsible for their own lives and the direction it takes. Similarly, I truly believe that mothers are responsible for the energy that is received by their children and we all want to nudge positive energy in their direction. If we are able to do that, based on Newton’s law of motion, this energy will bounce right back to us.
I have briefly mentioned in a previous post that articles all over the internet, preach to us that shouting at our children when they are throwing a tantrum about something, will only bring out the worst in them. So the best solution and RIGHT way is to let them calm down before having a rational conversation, and not shout back. This may be true, but easier to accomplish in theory than in practical life. Whether we are able to control ourselves and follow this piece of advice, or we are unable to control ourselves all the time resulting in heated and mean words being thrown at our children, the respective energy is absorbed by them. If we shout back, the negative energy is absorbed and emerges in the form of tantrums, lashing out and days of crankiness. We wonder why the shouting does not keep them in line and make them behave. I am not going to bring anger management techniques into the picture as there are already millions of websites with this information. Maybe we have our answer here....the law of cause and effect. If we are in a difficult situation with our children, the burden is on us to find a way to attract the kind of energy we want to reflect onto them, enabling them to make use of it and send it right back to us mothers.
I have often sat brooding after a ‘non-desirable’ session with my son, over the consequences that would result from the shouting which had just ensued. Practice makes perfect; so I have been training myself to nab the anger which often rises when your child is throwing a tantrum. Sometimes mumbling “calm yourself” to myself helps too. Would he repeat everything I said to his teachers in school? Would he think that this is the way that people are supposed to manage and solve problems.....by shouting at each other? Would this behaviour manifest in him and follow him for the rest of his life? Most of all, did I scar him in any way?
It is okay to shout back at your child sometimes. It should not be something that other mothers criticize, seeing a mother go through this. Often, on the street, in a restaurant, or even in school, we would have all seen a mother in a tough situation with her child, and others around her whispering, and for a lack of another word, ‘judging’. It happens in movies and in reality too! Isn’t this something that all mothers resonate with?
Making ourselves aware of the effect of this on our children, can help us be a little more pro-active in trying to send out positive energy instead of negative. We need to fill our minds with the kinds of thoughts we would want our children to be thinking 24/7; thoughts that can enable us to be a better version of ourselves, and be spectacular mothers. It’s a vicious circle, so at the end of the day, practice makes perfect!
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'