We all wanted to be that perfect parent. The woman who’s got her house in order. Her kids sleep on time. They eat organic food. They go to the best schools. They wear clothes from companies that don’t exploit manual labor. Basically, GOOP but for good people. Everyone has those dream parenting ideals but of course, as every parent knows, reality is far from the truth. (Pic credit: Miqs Photography, Lahore)
The truth about parenting is that it’s a hard job. It’s not easy for anyone. Unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow and you have millions of dollars and can spend them on, well, goop.
For the rest of us, parenting is a struggle almost every day. All of those rosy notions, these images that are most likely sold to us in the form of diaper, lotion and milk powder ads, have told us that our baby must be rosy pink, we must be sleeping with a smile on our faces, with our baby cozily snuggling on our arms as our perfectly manicured nails touch their sweet skin.
Then as they grow older (hello, butter and oil ads), we lovingly spread butter on their bread as we wear perfectly coiffed hair and beautifully ironed dupatta while walking around in a spick and span kitchen, our skin glowing like the full moon. As the child hits teenage, perhaps the only real ad comes. Where the Mom, hapless as to what to feed them, gives them a bowl of two-minute noodles. Honesty in ads finally makes its way but it’s too late and most girls think having kids is going to be some kind of a vacation.
The reality of it all is that pregnancy is scary. Nine months of bearing a child in your body begins with fear and excitement and continues in expectation. All this, by the way, is reserved for the first-born. By the time you come to the third pregnancy, if that was at all planned, you’ve forgotten what trimester it is and you only find out you’re going to give birth when the doctor tells you to stop jumping over toys.
The miracle of birth is no joyride either, as you may have already figured out. There is pain and such amounts of it. Whether it is a c-section or a normal birth, bringing a human being into the world requires superhuman levels of effort and power. One that goes underrated each and every moment of the day across the globe where millions of women go through this journey and also carry on with their lives. I’ve still not recovered from the fact that I gave birth to not one but two children. How did my tiny body possibly manage this? I eat a bad plate of chips and my gut can’t deal with it for days. How did I manage to create two actual people in my body?
The greater realizations come after the child is born. They are often not the beautiful, round little bubbles of glee in the beginning. They sleep eighteen hours (except when they are waking you up, which is every hour) and look like little bird offsprings if they are jaundiced or weak. They bounce back soon but if you end up looking at your child wondering if you ate far too many weird candies for your child to come out looking like a weird potato, please don’t freak out. We’ve all been there.
Then come the terrible twos when the diaper ad was telling you that the kid would be laughing on the playmat in the glow of the afternoon as you laughingly help them navigate the living room. The truth is far from it. The terrible twos include teething, which probably means that your child has dug their gums into your skin, your sofa, your keychain and every unsavory item possible. They’ve also discovered that they can waddle, which means you have to be on constant tiptoes to make sure that your child doesn’t burst their head onto a wall or slam their face on the floor. They don’t sit and eat. (Unless you’ve got a well-behaved kid who likes broccoli and carrots) There is rice all over the floor and there is bits of chapati stuck on your hair. That’s what it really looks like. Don’t let the ads fool you. It’s a roller coaster and then some. As they grow older from the terri-twos, they develop a mind of their own in which the most salient feature of any conversation will be “no”. No to the vegetables, no to the toys, no to watching your favorite film. They are growing as individuals and you have to find a way to not scream internally every time you are trying to convince them that there’s no way you can possibly buy them what they’re asking for or not answer all their questions at that very moment because you’re having a conversation elsewhere. It’s a tough, tough job.
The only thing new moms can do is give themselves a break. Every chance they get. They deserve it. They created life. They gave birth to it. They deserve all the love and appreciation they can get. Depression, a rapidly changing body, sleepless nights, exhaustion, emotional adjustment – all of it is happening post-partum and mothers deserve all the love and care we can give them. Because even though that new mom must have seen about a billion ads about birth and children, nothing has prepared her for this.