it's 2017 and I just completed ten years of motherhood. In the age of the internet mums, I guess I am what you called "experienced". With the advent of Facebook, first time mums or mums with babies and toddlers are always looking for advice or reassurance in some forum, page or group in some corner of social media from internet savvy experienced mums. So with a decade of experience in mothering under my belt, I guess I am experienced enough to dispense advice and give opinions. And hope and pray my kids turn out to be decent human beings when they grow up because; the last I heard, humble pie doesn't taste very good. This mother's day, I compiled a list of observations, life hacks and wise advice all rolled into one compact article. I am sure to revisit them as years go by to remind me to keep life in perspective, and I hope they will give you some insight into this business of mothering. So without further ado here are the top ten lessons I learnt about motherhood.
Let it go, let it go!!
No, no don't groan. I'm not bringing back the frozen craze again. But Elsa knows what she is talking about. I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as a perfect family. See this is how the equation works. There's no such thing as a perfect person, we all have flaws. Some hide it pretty well. But it's there lurking in a corner, while others are not so adept and they display these faults for the world to see. So a bunch of imperfect people get together and make a family and hence, every family is imperfect. You're welcome.
So just stop. Stop trying to live up to an invisible standard of perfectness. It's like signing up to go live on Mars. Once you go there, there's no return. You lose your individuality, your uniqueness and your peace of mind.
Take regular Mental Health Breaks
I'll let you in on a secret. Upon giving birth you acquire a superpower. You become Radar Girl. They take the baby out of you and secretly implant a radar system on your body. It has wires stretching from your brain, your heart and to your stomach. And it's always on. Forever and ever. It acts as a homing beacon to all the things bad that can happen to your child. Your brain calculates ten times faster making up unimaginable scenarios, your heart pumps at alarming speed helping you do things you once thought impossible and your stomach gets from butterflies to sinking feelings as your child jumps hurdles through life. Although your body might get sick and it forces you to shut down, your radar system never does.
This is why you need MHBs. It could be days, it could be just a few hours. Don't just take 'em, grab 'em! Don't wear your selflessness and your sacrifices as a crown. It may start off shining and new, but soon it will start melting in your head. And when you cannot take the heat, your family will pay for it. Know your limits. When things get too hot and the flames start licking at your toes, step back. Relax, recharge, rejuvenate. And jump right back in. you will be a calmer mama.
Nothing compares... to you
There's nothing wrong with trying to be the best you can be. And trying to give the best of things to your child. But the sad thing is too often we are too busy doing things for our kids, running around like women possessed we forget why and for whom we are doing all these things for. We plan elaborately themed parties and the little angel spends half the party clinging on to you crying. Scour the world for that teeny tiny toy that would make you're precious so happy, whereas the little master only wants to play with the box that it came in. Find the perfect non-toxic, easy on the eyes, mentally stimulating exact shade of colour for the baby room and little miss brings the house down with her screams every time you try to leave her there. Take a breather. I know you are doing all this out of love. But the only thing your child wants is you. Those wonderful memories that they will one day look back and think of will most often not be made of things. It will be made up of feelings. The feelings you gave them. They just want you.
You are not the only parent
Us moms think that if something needs to be done, we better do it ourselves. The thing is, it takes two to make a baby right? So why is it that everything else has to be done by you? Ok, so your husband doesn't know how to put on a diaper. But you didn't attend any classes either. This whole parenting gig is learning on the job. Relax your rules of doing it your way. You are not the only parent, get the man involved. Give the man a chance.
Stop living in the future, ground yourself in the present
Yes, I understand, failing to plan is planning g to fail. Life plans, study plans, meal plans, vacation plans, that plan and this plan, we have our lives planned down to a tee. As moms sometimes we live more in the future than in the present. While your lives are flowing like a river with a few bumps and bends take a moment to pause, look, listen and engage. Your kids will not be the age they re in right now for long. While you are too busy surviving life, you forget to live it, to savour it. Life is made up of a million little moments. Enjoy it. It will not last forever.
One size doesn't fit all
Your kids are not a duplicate of you. They are individuals with their own personalities. Understand that and you are half-way there. Although they might be born to the same parents they are not cut out of cookie cutters and baked at 200°C. Don't treat all your kids the same. Some need to talk things out while the others need their space and they will talk when they are ready. Some kids will need your help while others like to do things by themselves. Some kids need to be disciplined with a lot of love while others need some tough love. So study your child, read up and educate yourself in how to handle your child. But whatever you do, regardless of their personalities always let them know your radar is on and you are just a look away.
Once we become mothers, we become all sentimental and mushy. Our hormones are all over and we are extremely sensitive. While this is how nature makes us attuned to our child's needs we go the extra mile and let it affect everything else around us. We apply it to everyone, our families, our in-laws, our colleagues, bosses, neighbours and the garbage collector. And before you know it you're crying a bucketful of tears because your neighbour's aunty's grandma's sister thought you are not feeding your kid right. Woman up!
Realize that you made a tiny human inside you and carried it for almost a year. You feed, wash, put to sleep, nurture and keep this human alive. Don't let anyone get to you. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, " no -one can make you inferior without your consent". With being a strong woman in a man's world, Eleanor knows what she's talking about. So chin-up and look the world in the eye.
Choose your battles
I constantly see a lot of mums explaining that being mothers made them into protective mama bears and some even said they had a feral urge to defend their kids. While these National Geography-esque quotes are great if you are faced with someone who will really harm and danger your child, this sort of attitude will only harm you and your child in the long run. I see mothers biting the head off their partners, teachers or in-laws for the slightest thing while advising their kids to be nice to each other. The hypocrisy doesn't go unnoticed by your kids. So be wary. When someone does something to push you off the edge, count to 10, take a walk, do anything to calm you and ask yourself does this matter in the long run? Your mother in law gave a tiny piece of icing cake to your 10-month-old. Will it give him diabetes? NO. so don't jump the gun. But slowly talk to them and explain your stance. I know it might not work with all in-laws but don't let your kids witness nastiness on your side. They will love you and respect you more for it.
Everyone is struggling, just be kind.
s I mentioned earlier no one is perfect. We are all flawed and we are all struggling to different degrees. It could be financial, personal, emotional, health issues, relationships, basically anything. So leave your opinions, unsolicited advice, comments and judgments at the door. Try and be helpful if you feel they are willing to accept help. And if your quota of compassion is running low and you don't have any kind words to say or a helpful hand to extend, just make yourself invisible and the world will be a better place.
Learn to say NO
Once you understand the magical properties of NO, you will never go back to being a yes ma'am. Use NO liberally. Parenthood is one big bonanza of shopping opportunities. It's one brand after the other. So many "must-haves". Every child needs one. If you don't have it, you'll be left behind. It comes to the point where you are looked upon as an abusive parent if you don't buy your child merchandise from whatever the latest craze is. Rebel against it. Resist. Say the dreaded word, NO. You worked too hard to bring them into this world, just to hand them over to the advertising industry. Don't look at your kids like they don't understand what's going on. Give them some credit, they are pretty smart if we let them be. Talk to them. Hold intelligent conversations with them. Talk about the economy, the political situation in the world, about wars and natural calamities, other countries and other cultures, about sports and science and everything under the sun. expand their horizons.
Once you become a mother, try as you may you can never "un-become" a mother. There is no undo button, there is no option for a divorce. You are on the job all your life. They might cut the umbilical cord at birth but it will be anchored in your heart all your life. Yes, we complain and whine. But to date I have not met a mother who regrets that moment when she heard the cry of her baby for the first time, the moment her baby uttered his first words, the days her little angel fell sleep on her body listening to the soft lullabies, the times she thought her baby is the smartest kid in the world, the times they hung out together or went on long walks holding hands, the days they made a mess in the kitchen baking cookies or nights they spent going through notes for exams. Motherhood is a melting pot of raw emotions. It is a force so powerful, it's beyond human imagination. And we all know - with great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely mamas. Happy Mother's Day.