Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Motherhood, feminism, and other thoughts…

A few months ago I became a mother. I was told motherhood is the ultimate identity for every woman, a rite of passage without which a woman is incomplete. Blessed with an easy pregnancy, I drank the kool aid until honeymoon with bebe ended. I was hit with emotional storms without warning.

Motherhood is beautiful, natural, and intuitive. It is, on a grandiose, abstract level; it is certainly not for a woman learning the ropes and struggling to reacquaint with herself and her body. For a long time, I was waiting to get my life back. Until one day it hit me – life as I knew it is over, I am never getting it back. I was shaken and a little resentful. No one mentioned the sleepless nights (ok, many did, but nothing drives it home better than an alarm going off everyday at 2 am and 6 am reminding me to pump), the challenges of breastfeeding, and the blebs (men, don’t ask). Everyone had an opinion and advice while I was pregnant and after everything happened I was left alone caring for an infant. I felt being lied to, I was lured into the club of motherhood, and now that I am in, the bad and the ugly come out.

There is also the question of division of labor. Yes, we live in the 21stC. Yes, fathers need to partake in the caring of the infant. But fact is, a man is not equipped with the mechanism or intuition to do that. So no matter how you slice and dice it, mothers become almost the sole caretaker in the early days. Inequality is inevitable. As a mother I accept that. As an individual I am not so ready. Since becoming a mother I have used 1% of my vocabulary and 110% of my patience. And I have stopped thinking about my professional goals altogether. Life is no longer just about me, as some would say. Yet life has not changed as dramatically for my husband. I am no men hater, but I can’t help feeling slightly resentful, after all I am not inferior in education or intelligence. Yet these days I constantly find myself feeling inadequate and incompetent. It is not easy for me to verbalize these thoughts, admit motherhood is not a role I just slip into effortlessly. I judge myself for not able to soothe my child, not able to get him to eat more, sleep more, and for wanting some alone time.

I don’t regret having a child at all. Some day I may have more. I also refuse to think of children as investments. It is a life experience I chose to have and I am blessed to have it. Like anything new it takes getting used to. I just have to concede from now on there will be competing goals and difficult choices. I will try to reconcile that being a mother, while a great privilege, takes sacrifice. You gain some and you lose some (a lot even). Most important I have to stop comparing myself to other mothers (especially those with blogs and cute DIYs) and just be comfortable with being myself and remembering I am taking a journey with my child.

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