I always take a certain amount of pride in calling myself a mother. According to me, it is the hardest but most rewarding job that I have ever committed to taking on. Post college, I have worked in the IT industry as well as the Agricultural industry; both vastly different in their requirements and job descriptions. The skill sets and life lessons that I learned from both jobs were extremely different. There are some skills you learn from a job which may be relevant to that particular job but cannot be applied anywhere else; and then are those ‘traits or qualities’ you acquire which sometimes actually change you and become a part of who you are.
Motherhood, as I am sure you all agree, is a continuously evolving process, requiring mothers to adapt every now and then along the way. There is no start and finish line. As a mother, there is never the question of having learned enough. At every step, new qualities are developed and adopted, and some maybe qualities that you already had but after motherhood they become honed.
Different mothers have varying qualities which they think have helped them evolve and become what they consider to be a devoted and committed mother (notice I didn’t use the word good, since I do not believe that it is as simple as describing any mother as good or bad). I am not going to be unrealistic and try to make all the mothers out there feel better by saying “you have everything already in you to be a perfect mother” or “don’t worry you are already doing an amazing job so don’t ever change.” No, I don’t believe in those statements. Like I mentioned earlier, motherhood is an evolving process and evolution equals change.
Here is my list of top 5 qualities that have changed me, and which I have internalized after becoming a mother -
1. Never back down
Growing up, I was always more of an introvert than an extrovert. I think most of my school friends who are still in my life today would vouch for that. I was shy and unassuming. This shyness always led to accepting things the way others wanted them without any regard for my own wants and needs. I wouldn’t call it selflessness but more of a pushover.
Working in the corporate world is when I learned to ‘toughen up’ so to speak. More so once I became a mother as well. I learned persistence, a trait which comes in handy as a mother! In the face of absolute resistance coming from my son in certain situations, I have learned not to give up and let anything deter me. There are challenges and obstacles we face with our children every step of the way as mothers. I have learned to never back down.
When I was young, I expected everything and everyone to revolve around me. I think like most of the youth, I wore partial blinders most of the time when it came to others; it was mostly about me and my wants and needs. Weren’t we all like that once upon a time? My parents did their job by teaching me that showing concern for other people and caring about their wants and needs as well would make me a good human being. They set good examples for my sisters and me. At that point, I never believed that anyone could be 100% selfless. That was of course until I became a mother myself and then I finally understood what my mother had always talked about, and what it felt like putting someone else’s well being and wants and needs, ahead of mine. Being selfless is a quality that automatically is embedded into your personality as a mother, whether or not it was already present before. I realised that every thought in my head began with “would this be suitable for my children?” Every step I have taken and will take in the future will be to ensure my children’s happiness and safety.
When it comes to disciplining our children, it is extremely easy for mothers to fall off the cliff. We talk about two distinct approaches when dealing with tantrums - rational explanations and yelling along with punishments. The most ‘ideal’ way most mothers would like to adopt is the rational explanations. Easier said than done right? We all have our weak moments when we just want to hurl abuses at our children during their episodes. I don’t think there is even one mother out there who can deny this. I realised over a period of time, that in order to be successful (sometimes not always) at attempting rational explanations without flying off the handle, an abundant amount of self-control was required. This ensures that nothing is said which cannot be taken back; that point of no return is not reached.
4. Being fair
Question: How does a person know he/she is being fair to someone? Answer: He/she puts himself/herself in the other person’s shoes and then makes a decision. I wonder sometimes if every time we utter the phrase “this is not fair”, we really know what it means. I have never practiced the art of fairness more, than after I have become a mother. This is not just me but I would think all mothers, try to see most things from their children’s point of view. The world is a strange and different place to them so putting ourselves in their shoes would give us a clearer picture of why they do certain things. This, rather than just assuming that they are being manipulative, would go a long way. I would always want my children to think of fairness and integrity, when thinking of me.
5. The Power of positive thinking
In one of my earlier posts titled ‘The Law of Cause and Effect’, I talked about how everything has an equal and opposite reaction. When you direct positive energy at someone, minimizing the negativity, the same positive energy gets thrown back at you. The power of positive thinking is something I have tried to practice every day from the time I became a mother. This also links back to the self-control mentioned earlier, which can aid in pushing negative thoughts to the back of our minds and bringing the positive thoughts to the forefront for our children to experience. Putting everything else aside, I want my children to be happy individuals. Period. I am not going to shelter them from the challenges that they will face in life, but I do want to teach them to approach every situation in life with a positive mind, so that they can be a better version of themselves.
It is a mother’s basic maternal instinct to protect her offspring, both from physical as well as emotional harm. We are always looking out for our children to ensure that they never have to go through any pain and suffering inflicted by anyone or anything. Our children’s happiness is first and foremost on our list of accomplishments as mothers. I have always wondered though if complete and absolute protection from emotional pain is a positive thing.
Let me explain what I mean by that. The line is thin between ‘protecting’ and ‘sheltering’. Sheltering equals over-protecting. Many times the line gets blurry because the two overlap. I ask myself all the time and rightly so, what my main hopes are for my children. What qualities and skills do I want them to possess, to enable them to have a fulfilling life? Like all other mothers, I of course want my children to be happy, healthy, safe etc and have all the dreams they dream of like every mother out there. But what I feel is important and sometimes lost somewhere along the way of them growing up, is their ability to deal with pain and suffering and emerge from it that much stronger. No one gets out alive without facing challenges. Giving my children the skills from a very young age, to overcome obstacles and be resilient, is key.
When it comes to protecting our children from physical harm, for example with our young ones, we try and make sure they don’t go and trip over their own feet trying to climb stairs before they can walk. So to protect them, we install gates all over the house. This is something as mothers we are obligated and trained to do. It is instinct. This does not have any bearing on their emotional state of mind but more on their presence of mind. We teach them to be cautious the next time around. This is protection, and not sheltering.
We as mothers, often feel that protecting our children from any potential hardship means actually preserving their emotional well-being. I am not sure how much I agree with this. I truly believe that a child’s emotional state is developed from infancy. The development takes place from experiencing positive as well as negative feelings throughout the child’s life. Getting pushed around by bullies for instance, is a stressful and sometimes painful situation for any child. One would view this as a negative situation. But the way he/she is taught to react by the mother makes all the difference. There is protection - teaching him/her to face the situation head-on and strategise on how to handle the situation in the event it happens again. Then there is sheltering - hovering around and complaining to the class teacher, which leads to the child being completely unprepared for handling future altercations, if any. The former way, the child is being exposed fully to the negative event at hand, and the latter, the mother is shielding the child completely by putting the responsibility of solving the problem on the teacher.
In the early stages, examples are set by the parents; especially the mother. I have seen my elder son watching me very closely for my reaction every time something upsets me. By letting my emotions flow and expressing my true feelings about a negative situation, I am teaching my children that negative and stressful events will occur from time to time, that they need to be confronted head-on without turning your back on them and pretending like everything is fine, and that it’s ok to feel pain because it only makes you stronger. Many people are of the opinion that nothing negative should ever be expressed in front of children. Is this true in every case? I don’t believe so. For example, if there is a death in the family, I would not want to shelter my children from knowing what was happening. Instead, I would want them to understand the situation and furthermore, understand how to manage their feelings and cope. Age appropriate explanations are of course required, but an explanation is definitely important. Removing them completely from negative situations growing up, will only create insecurities, uncertainty and fear for when they will have to deal with something similar later on in life. Pain and suffering is bad, but the lesson to be taken away from it will only make our children that much more resilient.
Emotions need to be regulated. Pain and suffering is sadly a part of life, a truth which my children need to learn early on, and this can only be done by exposing them to it, leading to development of emotional feelings. None of us want our children to be thrown into an unpredictable world. The development and regulation of emotional skills is crucial for children to protect themselves.
We can shelter our children by not preparing them for the world that we expect them to live in. Another way to go is to protect them by preparing them and exposing them to reality from early on in their lives. As mothers, we all want to do what is best for our children. Even if what’s best is not within our comfort zone, buffering our children from stressful, negative & painful situations is not enhancing their well-being for the long term.
As Robert H. Schuller said “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!”
What are your views on this? Please feel free to share your thoughts on what you would do at home with your children!
Punctuality has always been a strong quality of mine. I am not trying to flatter myself; it is something that my friends have always joked about growing up. I have always landed up at a friend’s house either at the time specified or maybe 5-10 minutes earlier than scheduled. In today’s world (especially India) of being fashionably late, 4 pm rarely means 4 pm, but actually means approximately 5.30 pm. However for me, 4 pm always meant and still means 4 pm. It runs in my family; most members of my family are the same way, we end up at the airport 3 hours before a domestic flight. You would think that I would change to be in line with everyone else, but I am actually quite proud of this quality as I feel it adds a certain amount of discipline to my life.
I wanted to talk about this because I feel that it has affected most aspects of my life, including of course motherhood.
When we were pregnant with our first son, as most first-time mothers do, I spent hours and hours on Google, reading articles on baby sleep schedules, feeding routines etc. I wanted to know when the baby would start feeding according to a set schedule so that I could set his routine in place; set a certain time for his morning feed, massage, bath, naps and so on.
Now I am sure many mothers reading this post can relate to what I am about to say. I was a complete Nazi with my first son. The ‘eat whenever, have a bath whenever and nap whenever’ policy never settled with me. I thought that having a set routine with set times meant sticking to them come what may, not realising at the time that the world would not end if the schedule varied here and there by 5-10 minutes. At that point in time, even a 5 minute delay for lunch time or bath time was a catastrophic event. If he went down late for his nap, I would start to get fidgety. I was completely obsessive about his routine and sometimes it got to an unnatural level. The reality was that the delay made no difference to anyone’s life; my son was happy as long as he got his food somewhere around the time normal people eat lunch, and was not made to starve. These kinds of incidents led to many an argument with my support system and my son’s other caretakers, but actually the only person in distress was yours truly. I had become my own worst nightmare. I was a momzilla.
As a first-time mom, any and every small deviation is made to seem like a mammoth issue. I personally feel most first-time moms are wound up tight, and I was leading the pack. Over a period of time, I became more flexible and learnt to take things in my stride. In hindsight, after my second one has arrived, I keep wondering why I had made my life more stressful than it needed to be. I realised being a stickler for routine was one thing, but being an unreasonable stickler for routine was completely different altogether. I guess that is why practice makes perfect (although I don’t think ‘perfect’ can be applied to anything when it comes to motherhood).
With my second son, I am now just the opposite. Yes, as a mother, I am still a little OCD with many things, but toned down by many levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the following:
Hello to all my Bubbly Blogcast readers! Apologies for the long break in my posts...I was busy pushing another tiny human out of my V card. He is now 2 weeks old and looking a lot less like a little alien creature and more like my husband.
The night I delivered, I was lying in the hospital bed reading one of the magazines the nurses had given me. I came across an article a mother from Germany had written on postpartum depression; a condition which a large percentage of new mothers experience, post delivery. We are all of course familiar with it; whether we have gone through it ourselves or not. The author of the article spoke about her symptoms and severity of the depression, how it affected hers, her family’s and her baby’s life the first few months. The article got me thinking.
Depression is something we always think only others go through and could never happen to us. We sometimes talk about it as if we are narrating a scene out of a movie. So I wanted to dedicate my post this week to this topic, and to a milder version of depression which many new moms don’t even realise they are experiencing, called baby blues. There are so many websites out there which give moms advice on the symptoms of baby blues and how to overcome it. But I wanted to dig a little deeper so that if any moms out there want to share their voice on their experiences, they can do so without any hesitation.
I have personally seen baby blues set in faster and more frequently among new moms. I am not sure if it can be contributed wholly to ‘hormonal changes’. The thing I want to say first is this – baby blues is not something that you can control, whether it is your first, second or third child. It is not something that is right or wrong. Some of the feelings associated with becoming a new mom (other than happiness, excitement, anticipation, joy etc), are those of anxiety, loss of identity, loss of your former life and fear of what lies ahead. These feelings can stem from not having enough help those first few weeks, struggles with nursing, feeding every half hour etc. Sometimes there may not even be a reason for these feelings. If these feelings are not communicated and ‘vented’ to a family member or friend, they tend to fester and eventually lead to sudden crying outbursts for no reason and a general overwhelming feeling of sadness. I am not going to go into the symptoms as there as many.
Coming home from the hospital with a newborn is always an emotional event, stirring up mixed feelings for the mother. Dealing with those feelings by surrounding yourself with family and friends, and talking about them is key, to keep the baby blues at bay. Bottling those feelings up and feeling embarrassed to talk about them, is what pushes many new moms to experience baby blues. It’s ok to not be ok. If you are not ok, say so!
Many people have a very ‘blissful’ picture of motherhood in their minds. They believe that motherhood is made up of only hallmark moments. When reality kicks in and the baby is born, the hallmark moments blend together with the hoard of challenges of motherhood. No one is ever ready for the hurdles motherhood presents; we can only prepare for it to the best of our ability, without knowing fully what to expect. But many times because that perfect picture in our minds is torn away by the reality of becoming a mom, the fantasy is shaken and the gloomy feelings become overpowering.
I had a very mild version of baby blues after my first son was born, although I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought I was an overly hormonal new mom. Pushing myself to breastfeed when I couldn’t because the doctor said so, nanny issues the first two months and other things contributed to it. There were days of never-ending crying outbursts, nearly zero appetite, mood swings and an overall feeling of loss. But at the end of the day I had my entire family around me forming a wall of support. Now after my second son was born, the day we came home from the hospital, my family and I popped open a bottle of rose champagne, and celebrated us having become a part of what a friend of mine aptly called – ‘The two boys club.’
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.'