Being a mother isn’t an all rainbow journey. We live in societies that have made us internalize the prejudice that mothers should always be happy, selfless, nurturing, willing to sacrifice everything for their children. She gives out unconditional devotion to her family and is motivated by endless self-denial that ultimately fortifies her children’s emotional well-being. The television and movie world has taught this to us, though, it is far off reality. Be it Mother India, where the mother is seen sacrificing her food for her children or English Vinglish wherein Sridevi was hurting yet she patiently heard her kids rant and disrespect her; Bollywood has successfully romanticized motherhood.
Women struggle every day to fit into the ‘Pinterest Perfect Mom’ image, pretending it’s all butterflies and unicorns making themselves tired, overworked, and undervalued. We, as a society, burden women with the expectations to be selfless, caring, patient, and loving as soon as they become mothers. A woman may be a short-tempered, impatient, imperfect human like all others, but the moment she becomes a mother, she just magically turn into a calm, loving, perfect mom. She must lose her true identity and gain another, something which is more acceptable for the world. (of course) So it’s unusual that she often gets stranded between who she is and who she must be because of the constant romanticization of motherhood.
So here we give you reasons why not to romanticize motherhood anymore:
Firstly, it’s unrealistic. Like all other human beings, mothers are equally imperfect. They constantly push their limits to become what a perfect mother should be like but that is nearly impossible. It never allows them the right to have a bad day without assuming they’re the worst mom in the world. It doesn’t allow them to openly express their feelings of frustration and anger that are obvious in this rollercoaster ride of motherhood. It doesn’t let them be themselves.
Handling babies and raising kids is an exhausting process. It’s draining and annoying. Telling them that they’re supposed to like every single bit of it, is not okay. Period. Not every second is enjoyable. They’re allowed to have a bad day, feel frustrated, hate everyone, and be their vulnerable selves. By romanticizing motherhood, you constrain their real feelings that aren’t always pleasant.
Secondly, how often do you talk about the mental health of mothers? We often talk about ‘Maa ki Mamta’ and ‘Maa ka Pyaar’, but what about ‘Maa ki mental health’? Romanticizing motherhood makes it easy to shame moms who suffer from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and any other mental health disorder. As many as 50-75% new mothers experience ‘baby blues’ after delivery and around 15% develop postpartum depression. Because of the stigma around mental health, they spend time and energy trying to appear to be the mom who loves her new life, instead of reaching out for the help she needs, wants, and deserves. Motherhood requires emotional, mental, and physical support, not an unrealistic standard that makes them feel guilty.
Thirdly, it makes the woman lose her individuality. She’s convinced to choose her kids over herself, her ambitions, her wants, and her needs. Ambitious mothers who work day in and out are often bashed for being selfish. This brings them self pity for not being good, selfless mothers.
Last but not least, it lets fathers off the hook. We, as a society, put the responsibility of a child on the mother’s shoulders and tell her that she has to love every second of it, shrugging off the concept of equal parenthood. In fact, in many families, the contribution of the father is minimal. It is because men aren’t held accountable for their responsibilities in the upbringing of a child, while for the mother, it becomes an unquestionable duty.
It’s time we realize motherhood isn’t all sunshine. A woman may hear how motherhood will change her life forever. Indeed. But what is often not said is that some of these changes will be profoundly disquieting, often launching her into a crisis, the likes of which she has never known. It’s time we debunk the notion that transition to motherhood is something that comes naturally to a woman. It’s time we release them from this expectation that they manage this mother role perfectly.
So, start with yourself. Tell your mother it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be tired and frustrated. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay for her to put herself on top of the priority list. It’s okay to set limits, to avoid people, and to take care of herself. Do it this Mother’s Day and every other day as well.
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