Being a mother was always hard. Being a great mother was always almost impossible. And being a great mother in the modern world, with all its high expectations and competition and ofcourse the information overload seems to be nothing but an elusive dream. So many opinions and so many rules govern our actions and we find ourselves being ruthlessly scrutinized by everyone, everyday (or are we all just being paranoid? Afterall paranoia is a byproduct of motherhood). There are some sins however that almost all of the new mothers secretly commit and secretly feel ashamed about and a few them are discussed below.
1. Allowing Screen Time
Kids should not be allowed screen time. Period.
"But what should I do if my rambunctious toddler throws tantrums when I meekly try to take away my phone from her", I ask. "You should not have given your phone to her in the first place. It’s not a toy!" you tell me.
Gone are the days when people spent a full day without checking their phones. We hate to admit it, but phones are a big part of our lives today. But they say children learn through observation so a mother should try to avoid being glued to her devices. A stay at home mom will tearfully state that the phone is the only thing that connects her with the world outside, where adults live and have adult conversations. So expecting her to stay away from her phone when her child is around would be barbaric. Because her child is around her 24/7/365.
And then the TV. Oh that glorious screen where Channing Tatum is found and blissful TV series’ are found and consequently happiness is found. Satisfaction is sitting in front of the TV with your feet up and eating your dinner like you used to ever since you were a little girl in your mother’s house. Watching good movies actually, not the scary news bulletins that talk of murderers and thieving politicians. But alas, now you cannot enjoy your desperately needed movie time because your toddler chooses to stand inches away from the TV and repeat all the swear words that flow from the villains mouth.
2. Serving Perfect Meals
As soon as your baby turns 6 months old, all the aunties in the neighborhood will start calling you to advice you about weaning. "Give your putha sweet potatoes", "not to give anything raw and uncooked ah", "don’t ever give him any store bought cereals okay? Always make your own cereal even if it kills you". And so the battle starts. You will soon start dreading their visits as they will find so many things wrong with the things that you give your baby. Even if you follow your doctor’s orders like your life depends on it, they will still tell you that they know better and that you and your doctor are frivolously putting your child’s life in danger.
And then you try to confide in your friend who also happens to have a weaned bouncy baby. You ask her if she ever gives him cereal or "you know those baby food jars men"? And she starkly says no and proceeds to detail all the reasons why those are considered bad for your baby. You agree with great zeal and reply with a "same here, I will also never give those" and believe it for a fleeting moment.
3. Comparing Kids
A mom can really annoy you if you are a mom yourself and if your kids are about the same age and if her kid seems to reach all his milestones like a boss and especially if she relentlessly boasts about all that whenever she gets the chance. You may have vowed to yourself that you will not let your precious baby enter the horrid rat races of today but inspite of all your good intentions, you will really find yourself losing your temper and your virtues when the boaster strikes. You might even start to subtly share details of your child’s achievements, sometimes to keep "your friend: the enemy" quiet, and sometimes out of sheer joy and then hope with all your heart that you haven’t evoked yet another avalanche of boastful words from her.
If your child is slightly older, you will be facing the competition from mothers who seem to have a knack of finding the best tuition classes for their kids. They will boast of their child’s grades and how much they pay the 10 tuition masters who visit their house every week. And then you will look sadly at your happy child, enjoying her evening bicycle ride and shake your head and promise yourself that her grades don’t really matter (atleast until the horrid lady leaves).
4. Getting Into Mommy Wars
These are ugly wars, especially when they are waged on social media platforms for all your clueless friends to see. A stay at home mother might feel that a working mother is a selfish thing and a working mother might feel that a stay at home mother is a lazy thing. These battles are sometimes not even between women who have kids in similar age groups. You might find yourself being heartlessly criticized by ladies of various ages. There was a time in Sri Lanka when most women stayed at home and cared for their children. And then those times shifted and today we find ourselves lost in debts and loans and mortgages. So some women choose to work, and these women can often be criticized by older women who enjoyed the privilege of raising their children in a greatly different economic landscape and hence have not the iota of a clue as to why so much money is needed nowadays to raise children.
5. Detesting The Armies Of Aunties
Someone long long ago, rather tactlessly said that it takes a village to raise a child. And so many women in Sri Lanka take that statement very seriously. Therefore they descend upon you mercilessly as soon as your precious bundle of joy arrives in this crazy world. These 'aunties bring with them all the love in the world. But they also assume you lack basic skills like holding a baby, carrying a baby and cuddling a baby so they offer to do all that for you even if you protest with hormonal tears in your eyes. And after they are done attending to your tiny tot, they will turn to you and talk about your rampant stretch marks and your post partum body which to them will still look like" its carrying a baby". They might be saying these to push you to work out and get your figure back. But sometimes all that these nagging hints do is push you over the edge and make you lose your mind. Some of them will call you insane if you nurse your toddler and some others will call you selfish if you don’t. Some will judge the way you dress your toddler and some will stare at you with wide eyed disbelief when your little one throws one of her rare, but fierce temper tantrums. You will love them. You will hate them. And life will go on.
6. Being Too Harsh On Yourself
The little one is making a mess in the living room again and you have just decided that you cannot care anymore. So you dazedly gaze at the images that appear on TV, one by one. And then a commercial appears on the screen. A beautiful mother plays joyfully with her toddler and beams with pride as her little one counts to three or says A, B, C.. You notice that her floors are clean and all the toys that her boy plays with are very clean. And then you look down at your happy little one garbed in a not so clean dress and playing with her one eyed doll. (You realize that you cannot even enjoy the company of a one eyed doll in peace, thanks to those terrible horror movies). You then start questioning your skills as a mother and wonder why you cannot achieve perfection in anything. After singing nursery rhymes and reading baby books all day, you may have lost your ability to be logical so these questions will race through your mind like a wild fire. And then you will search for articles like this on the internet and smile with satisfaction as you learn that you are the best thing that has happened to your baby. You are an amazing woman and a perfect mother in spite of all your imperfections and flaws.