Thursday, December 4, 2014

The secret society of motherhood


A few months ago, I attended a friend's baby shower who was to be a first time parent. The event was lovely and it was full of hope and excitement, as it was less than a month before she would become a mother. Or rather, enter the biggest roller coaster ride of her life!

At the baby shower, there was a clear divide between the women who were not mothers and those who were mothers. And then another divide between the elder women. The childless women were coo-cooing over monogrammed onesies, and discussing how they would parent (a.k.a. only feeding their child organic food, and never being one of those women who would looked disheveled). The women with young children were slyly looking at the childless women like "you have no idea what you're in for"....and the elder women were knowingly looking at the women with young children like "you have no idea what you're in for"....ahhhh the cycle of life...and disillusionment!

In North America, the leading book for pregnancy is called "What To Expect When You're Expecting". It is so popular that even a movie was made out of it a few years ago. It is like the pregnant woman's bible... In the book, it specifically tells mothers to not "scare" pregnant women with what it's really like horror stores. Which I find kind of dishonest. 

When I was pregnant, I was completely clueless as to what parenthood would really be like. I had zero experience with children, I never changed a diaper or cared for a child in any way before I gave birth to my own. For many Western women, young women have an idealized view of parenting and child-rearing, but very little experience. In the West, children are kept so secluded from other parts of society. People with children have to go to "child friendly" cafes, or avoid certain public places for fear of stares from equally clueless adults. Mothers with strollers are treated like lepers. Not like in India, and even Italy - where children are everywhere, rejoiced, and a part of society in every way. Sometimes I wish I had seen a few more public meltdowns in order to prepare myself for toddler-hood, or even just someone telling me truthfully that it is hard - and that's normal. It's all shrouded in mystery, like those fairy-tales that say "happily ever after" when the prince and princess get married. And then what? Nobody knows...

So, I was at this baby shower. The childless women conversed excitedly, while I made my way over to my "clan" - tired mothers of children under 5. The women were talking about how they can't wait to hand the baby over to their husband as soon as they come in the door, how they can't believe they have no time to have a shower, how their back hurts, how they're trying to decide when to have another child but they're exhausted already, and how working is way easier than staying home with an infant 13 hours a day. Yep. That's my clan!

The weird part was that everyone was whispering. We were all whispering as to not upset the expectant mother of the realities of parenthood. She cannot know that we only got "x" amount of sleep last night...shhhhh...it will upset her! And over our shoulders, the elder women were all whispering about their older children who: can't find a job, can't settle down, etc.

I feel bad that certain realities are shrouded in secrecy, but would it do any good for people to know anyway? The last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is about how hard it is, or the last thing a mother of a young child wants to hear is that it gets even harder. Let's face it, we are all living in our little bubble. I often think things would be better if fellow mothers were open and honest with each other. But sometimes I do wonder if there's a reason that these things are kept secret...

SHARE:

13 comments

  1. As someone who is newly pregnant (in the first trimester), I think I have had the opposite reaction. All my friends who are mothers only tell me the horror stories, which makes me more nervous. I wish people would whisper more, so that I am more happy and less anxious about the baby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! I hope you have a happy and stress free pregnancy ahead. A first pregnancy is an anxious time. At my first prenatal class, I was so nervous I vomited in front of everyone and then cried LOL

      Delete
  2. The reason people shy away from telling 'horror stories' is because they dont want their stories that the worry that they give to the expectant mother to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. It you expect it to be bad it most certainly will be. It's the same reason doctors always tell you it wont hurt at all or you'll just feel 'pressure'. If you say 'yeah this is gonna hurt A LOT' the fear of the pain will make you perceive it as more painful. Women should be educated but without the horror stories so they get to experience motherhood with an open mind free of preconceptions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I supposed if you are accustomed to being around babies and toddlers, then you don't romanticize too much about them, so "horror stories" just become "interesting facts". It is perhaps, as you say, the gap between imagination and reality that is painful for young mothers.

    You will see if/when you get other kids, that you don't double or triple the load with more kids. It's really having and raising the first one that is tough. I love it when Glennon Doyle of "Carry on Warrior" explains that from your third kid on you feel serene love without fear or guilt, I was very surprised to find it true.

    I remember the first time baby no.1 was sick in the car and I had everything to deal with the situation. I felt so proud, as if I'd just graduated ! Carry on, warrior and don't forget to laugh about the horror stories ! :) (Padparadscha)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwwwww that is wonderful to hear that. A lot of other mothers say that two is easier because you know what to expect. I'm really looking forward to it in the future, now that I have at least some experience!

      Delete
  4. @alexendra

    Moat Indians are more tune to the Ide of marriage and children. It is in their subconscious. There are also assured of help from their parents in looking after their children. So parenting is little easy. However our parenting styles are based on joint family system so we don't know what to do in a nuclear family scenario. They are often labour intensive and tiring.

    Indians are more used to children but today's generation are ill at ease around children more like the west. Perhaps this is due to the effect of nuclear families or people becoming more impatient due to fast pace of modern life.

    After seeing the perfectness of western life I wondered what these people do with children who usually end up doing what they feel. No offence meant just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On our recent trip to India, going into joint family homes I got SO much help with my daughter. She played with her cousins and was endlessly entertained, I was amazed!

      Delete
  5. I thought hard about this - To tell or not to tell that is the question.

    On one hand, I do not like how people go into scare mongering and in full on negative mode, at the same time, I do not want the realities hidden from me.

    I want to hear an authentic voice coming from a position of strength instead of from a "mean, you shall also suffer like me and I am so glad" kind of way.

    So, yes, please talk about it openly but sandwich it with encouragement and practical tips instead of like a negative nellie.

    As in instead of "Oh, see how less sleep you get!" which only serves to intimidate and make the preggie lady feel worse (what can she do now? change her mind?)

    We should go for "It is tough for many women to sleep once they have a baby. So, be prepared, try to take naps whenever you can, prepare meals and freeze them, it helped me when I did this and that ...... Don't repeat the mistake I did etc..."

    This does not only apply to motherhood. I have had people indulge in scaremongering in so many instances and in the end, it was easier than so many others who scared me and intimidated me had told be about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely - I totally agree. Talk openly WITH practical tips - great option.

      Delete
  6. If potential parents really knew what they were getting into, the human race would screech to a halt. :D I think not knowing all is a biological necessity. This is also related to the evaporation of my memories of the first 6-12 months. That explains why I want another baby now. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha love that ! Thank God for evaporating memories :D (Padparadscha)

      Delete

Respectful comments only, please! (That means you, anonymous.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Madh Mama. All rights reserved.
BLOGGER TEMPLATE DESIGNED BY pipdig