Looking Back at Motherhood
When your son turns 5 and you are planning his birthday celebration, it feels strange looking back. 5 years old, and my little man does not fumble any more, he eats on his own, he devises his games and characters and he navigates through my phone (probably better than I do). I felt validated and somewhere arrived. Suddenly I looked back at what seems like an eternity and a happy eternity, that changed me forever as I became a mom. When I held my little Rian I felt an all-consuming joy. I also felt an all-imposing stress. There was one questing hovering inside-Will I be a good mother? From swaddling him, to breastfeeding, to holding him, to burping him, to even playing with him-all activities would start and end with one question “Am I doing it right?”
I remember my mother-in-law and when she came to stay with us. There was a relaxed air about her. I would look at her in wonder when she would calmly rock a cranky Rian to sleep. To a “how do you do this?” she had calmly answered, ‘I enjoy him’. It struck a chord with me. What she said took some time to sink in but I decided I needed to change the way I am with Rian. I started to telling myself that perhaps it is about what feels right rather than whether it is right. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life worrying whether I have been a good mother. I decided I need to follow three basic rules.
Be organised. Be educated. Be relaxed.
Only rules that I followed since then. Just be happy and go with the flow. When I was happy, I bonded with him better. My relationship with my husband was better. We 3 fitted in to each other’s lives, happily, seamlessly and we are going strong.
Some small changes I made during the initial days that helped to come where I am today.
Sleep and Body
I realized that most of the time I was sleep deprived. The first thing I did was to get my sleep pattern in order. I needed to get my six to eight hours of sleep. With a new born, I understood that perhaps it would be tough to get eight hours sleep at a stretch. I divided my sleep between waking up a little late than usual, an afternoon nap and a good night’s sleep at a stretch. I saw I felt much calmer after a good restful sleep.
I was over eating and letting myself go. I had put on weight. I started waking up earlier, sit quietly and look at my row of potted plants, have a coffee, and have a quick round of brisk walking in the building itself, followed by long relaxing baths in the morning, I had these wonderfully fragrant oil and soaps which would calm me down. Those 2 hours I would ensure that between my husband and the helper I had, I could get my daily dose of ‘recharge myself’ time.
Establish boundaries– Another factor which was stressing me out was the constant stream of visitors. The small talk and the barrage of questions of “whether I am feeding the baby right, I am burping him right, whether the blanket is warm enough, whether I am looking at the rashes. I would feel more inadequate. I decided that I would set visiting hour rules and would adjust the visiting hours according to Rian and my routine.
Practice Patience-Life is not a hurry always. I remember I was suffering from huge time related anxiety. I would do all my chores like a precise clockwork. I decided that I will relax for a few hours too. I started giving much more time for nursing sessions, bathing and playtime. What was wonderful was that Rian started becoming much more relaxed when I was not stressed.
Accept limitations –I had to accept that I am not excellent in everything I do. The moment I could accept that I was much more open to advices and help from elders, friends and experts.
Have Fun- I realised that constantly obsessing over my baby caused further stress. I started taking some time out for myself at least once a week. whether going out with my friends, or booking myself for a few hours in the spa, this ‘me’ time was a great soother.
Over the years I have realised that being a mom is like getting on a roller coaster. There will be good, bad and very frustrating days. The key is to maintain a balance and be aware that raising a child will have its ups and downs and I need to take them in my stride.
Now when I look back at that time, I feel that one decision of”-Do what feels right and enjoy the journey”. Has gone a long way in making Rian the happy curious confident five-year-old of today.