This phrase rang in my head last week, while I struggled with my wayward thoughts and a newborn that had been crying for five continuous hours and was still going strong.
'A motherhood statement' is one that has universal acceptance. It also has mildly negative connotations, in that it is a statement that adds little or no value to a debate where taking a side is considered a sign of progress.
I have now promised myself never to use this phrase again. Simply because there is absolutely nothing universal about motherhood, other than the fact that it has existed since the advent of humankind. The appropriate word for this would be 'continuous' or 'vital' even. But universal? Definitely not.
As my baby turns four weeks old, she learned to cry for food, to move her limbs voluntarily and showed the first glimpses of a 'social smile'. I, on the other hand, learned that there are solutions that the world and its sister preaches, and then there are solutions that work for me and my baby. My solution, like the ones that others offered me, would serve as a guideline at best, and yet another experiment for some other new mother to try, at worst.
I am just a month into being a mom, and I already realise that it is an incredibly difficult job. Yet many women, across centuries have done it and continue to do so in a world that judges them more harshly for being a mother than anything else.
At the risk of sounding harsh and judgemental myself, I would say that the same pseudo-masochism that pervades our male dominated society today has seeped into the child rearing as well. Why mothers are weary of talking about how tough it is to first give birth, and then to (single handedly) manage a child is beyond me. Maybe it's because if we judge each other on a level of 'x', we judge mothers on a scale of 10x. So there's virtually nothing a mother can do to please everyone. Or maybe because women are already considered the weaker sex, so complaining about how tough it is to do the one thing that we have been doing for centuries doesn't help our case.
My counter point: It does. Not talking about how much work child rearing is makes it insignificant, which it is most certainly not. I used to pride myself on taking on life's lemons, without a whine. This worked perfectly till I got married. Then the seemingly effortless way in which I managed my life led people around me to believe that I was just coasting along. When in reality, I had been employing considerable mental strength and meticulous planning to get through each day, albeit quietly.
Learnings to take with me into 2018:
1. Talk about my day to the ones who matter, because they need to see how much work goes into being a mother, running a house AND (thinking about) working
2. Don't compromise on my priorities, no matter the external pressure. If they are wrongly placed, at least I will only have myself to blame
3. Tell myself that everything is possible with time, oodles of patience and constant support