On Motherhood


Motherhood is a sublime feeling. Yes, I agree. Being a mother who knows it better than me? When I conceived, I felt as if all the world was smiling at me; the sky seemed to be full of dazzling stars and bright rainbows, all at the same time. But, the question is, do women often lose their identity as an individual after becoming a mother? Does motherhood mean losing all other shades of one’s personality but one?

I know this topic is an emotional as well as controversial one. The concept of motherhood is often compared to divinity and, we women are quite gullible to it. Even today, a childless married woman faces societal opprobrium as if it’s a heinous crime!

My friend joined her office soon after her baby became three months old. She recruited a nanny but still her in-laws grudged all the time, that, she was not enough dutiful to her baby. She had to rush home as soon as possible after her work-hour ended and, that was making her job-life difficult and strenuous. She had no life in between her office and home taking care of the baby. She was getting drained emotionally and, emaciated physically. Finally, she was compelled to give up her job sacrificing her career. What she told me later was, “I never feel miserable that I’ve to discontinue my career, but the thing haunts me is nobody, even my near and dear ones, never feel for me. They behave in a way as if, it is the least thing a mother could do for her child.”.

Many a time my job demands short visits to other cities. The inevitable question I face is how my child is doing without me. And, sometimes elderly people keep on giving me redundant advice that my child must have been missing me and, consequently, this could upset him. I fail to agree with their point as I think a mother-child relationship is neither so fragile nor it is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ case. I consider myself fortunate enough to have a husband who is of great support to me.

But still somewhere, somehow, a sense of guilt crouches in. It is, because, the society has fixed a set of duties for the mothers. She should be the epitome of benevolence. This sense of guilt appears to be heavier for those mothers who have to balance cautiously between their family and work life. Their life is similar to that of a funambulist. One wrong step and you’re gone! One of my friends refused her promotion because, according to her, “a promotion means greater responsibilities and, even going onsite which I can’t manage at this point. My daughter is only two-year-old.”

Interestingly, our films and serials entertain this romanticized version of motherhood in an exaggerated manner. An all-sacrificing, eats-what-she-gets mother, with a broad smile on her face, is the ideal mother. She obeys her husband’s orders in her youth and, later, her children’s. Her whole family generally cry for her after she dies or gets affected by some incurable disease, but never they pay heed to her when she’s in her heyday. Is there any wrong in it if a woman, who is also a mother, takes care of herself? I don’t think so.

A woman must nurture the many facets of her personality and, there is no wrong in it. She is not answerable to anyone for her ‘performance’ towards her child. The social (read patriarchal) version of motherhood is a chimerical one. In no way, a working mum loves her baby less than an all-time mum. Motherhood is a celebration, a joy for ever, and should not be a hindrance to the way of life.


114 responses to “On Motherhood

  1. People tend to judge. They judge a mother for going back to work and they judge a mother for staying at home. There is no book of motherhood to say this is right and this is wrong. Every mother has the right to decide for herself. Everyone expects you to lose your identity and become just that: a woman who had a baby. They don’t care about how you feel, what issues you might have. They only want a subject, they want to judge and you are right in front of their noses for it. Unfortunately this is our society and we don’t have a cure for it

  2. Nowadays, from the perspective of the children, there is a general preference for the working moms (at least in the urban scenario) to keep up with the joneses..I guess, they get to enjoy their fair share of freedom and independence without the ever prying eyes of homemakers!

  3. Kudos to all the moms out there…It is never easy to juggle everything but yes every step counts…You have described it so beautifully and I agree to it completely…You are answerable to only yourself…I can never be a mom but my wife is soon going to be and I will be all in for anything I can do…I feel men need to step up and share the responsibility till the society learns to mind their own business…Nice post anyway🙂

  4. Perhaps I am less qualified to comment in the matter being a man. But I have had friends who became mothers and lost their sparkle to the push and pulls of the child and the family, society and the world at large. I agree, it is really tough being a mother and retain one’s personality in toto.

  5. Maniparna, I hope each mother feels their decision was made by themselves or with partner supporting them. As a woman who raised 3 children mainly alone, I felt it best to create a schedule and make babysitting my “career” which meant commitment and good financial planning. It would have cost too much to send to day care, so it turned out well for me. Thanks saw the excitement when Mommy or Daddy arrived and rather wished my own 3 would have been so excited to see me. Overall, we must not judge what another does. Only if danger or something unusual happens must we step in to help.🙂 Hugs, Robin

  6. If I’m unhappy I exude negativity unawaringly and it creeps to all at home…. If the decision or choice is not mine I’m not gonna be happy… … I dont expect the world to understand this but happy when my family understands!

    • True, if the mother is happy, the child will also be and vice versa. Units of families make up the society and if each family thinks positively and supports the mother, the society one day will evidently change, I hope…🙂

  7. Maniparna the main hindrance of motherhood is lack of realisation and actual roie play of fatherhood still in our sweet homes by 21st century fathers. It is the role, support, backing, taking care of your beautiful partner your wife who is going to be a mother the day she is conceived. Still even in 2016 majority of our households, the fathers had been brought up with this single line ” YEH ADMIYON KA KAM NAHIN HAI BACCHE PALNA”.In my opinion that time is over long back. We both are working but i being a father always played the role of a mother except having labour pains and giving breast feed, from the day one my loving and beautiful wife was conceived, despite opposition and taunts from my friends, from ladies & other members of our house hold like ” GHARWALI KA CHAMCHA” and what not. I never ever bothered about all this and brought up my sweet daughter who is now PhD from University Of Texas Dellas USA and my son who is a Computer Engineer from Delhi, moving shoulder to shoulder with my sweet wife in bringing up my children. So in my opinion we all fathers even who are in this 21st century so called ULTRA modren fathers do not and should not bother about comments being given like ” GHARWALI KA PAPPU” , and be thick and thin with your wife during motherhood and go on to enjoy motherhood along with your wife physically and mentally.

    • Exactly that should be the mindset, Vijayji. Those taunts are quite common in our society even today and men fall prey to them as well. The simple thing that a family should be balanced, should be nurtured equally by both husband and wife, is beyond their recognition. And, there actually lies the problem. Great to know about your wonderful family. Thanks for sharing your experience…:-) Much appreciated…🙂

  8. You summed up the dilemma of motherhood well Maniparna….Those who work juggle between home and office in almost relentless manner…Those who don’t work also have no one to understand that they have wishes too….but they have sacrificed a lot…..Everything is expected from a mother, that has been the case almost always….

  9. What I have observed is, the child initially is very much connected to mother than any one else,( atleast for first 2 years) for obvious reasons. [keeping all other conditions aside] It needs mother to be around with not more than 3 hours gap. May be that’s how it was designed in the nature. I strongly feel that mother should not worry about the job at-least for the first 2 years of the child.

    It was really a nice post to read. With an year old son at home, could very much relate to many facets of it.

  10. Here in the west, too, there is a sense that once you become a mother (or, indeed, a father), you should sacrifice any personal ambitions or plans that you may have had, and devote every waking moment to your children. Even as a father who loves his children dearly (and who raised them on his own) I am not prepared to buy into that.

  11. The problem is most of the time working women do not get much support from the society. Some Kolkata based hospitals I know of simply won’t employ lady doctors if they could because they might get pregnant someday. Exploitation, exploitation, everywhere!!! Even maternity leaves are not allotted to them and one has to leave service in case of being pregnant.. Just imagine. This has happened to one of my relatives. A very thought provoking write Maniparna.

    Hey, love that quote from Hot Moms Club🙂

    • I know, Sumanadi. Whatever we say on social media sites, in reality, women are still exploited almost everywhere. There are exceptions, of course, but they prove the rule…

      Thank you, glad you liked the quote… I liked it, too…🙂

  12. Maniparna, this is such an absorbing write-up and hits the right chords!! I remember when I was pregnant even I refused to take bigger role in office because I knew that I will leaving my job soon (though I had decided this earlier even before marriage that I will take care of my little one to the best extent and take a career break). But deep down sometimes I miss my office days!! 4 years of Investment Banking!! And yes no one particularly in-laws ever make me feel good, according to them it’s a woman’s duty to look after her family and career should be second priority!! And hence we (me and soulmate) were left alone to manage everything
    However, I just love being with my little love and the bond that I share with him today, he is just one🙂🙂

  13. Mothers are in no need for any extra helping of guilt from anyone. Live and let live as long as the children are in good hands, why should anyone pass judgment? Invaluable post, Mani. xo

  14. It’s great that you focussed on that guilt of motherhood. This is something that you cannot express to anyone. Nobody cares about that and can’t think even how much difficult a mom’s life by pursuing her work in the office, managing home and child at her best and dealing with that guilt that society sets for the Moms, only. It’s good that you have that family support. But, without this co-operation, a mom’s life becomes a hell to manage all those things in a proper balance which runs a family, happily, years after years. Great and very touching content on motherhood.

  15. I read this as I travel back from watching the twins. My daughter in law works hard and my son helps with everything in the house. I am,proud of both of them. He supports her continuing in her career and this also makes me proud. I try to help where I can and support her as a mother and a strong working woman. Awesome post Mani.

  16. Powerful thought provoking post, Maniparna. Society at large is so hard on women, especially those who are mothers. I don’t have any answers but I do think it should rest individually upon the shoulders of women who are having the children what they do with their own lives, and not to please their families, or spouses, or society. Your post truly is outstanding! You stay you, and I am so happy for you that your spouse is supportive of you!! Good choice in your spouse!!!🙂❤

      • I have found with age the pressures of Life get more challenging for us to stay ourselves. People get set in their ways and take it from me, when they run across someone like me who is “different” their response usually is fear. I relate strongly with younger people, who have yet to become set in their ways, who have enthusiasm for Life, and who are open to my fresh different-ness.🙂 And of course there is WP which is a true Blessing in my Life in more ways then I can possibly tell you.❤

      • So true, Amy. It’s difficult for some people to accept the ‘different-ness’ and that’s the root of most of the problems in this world! An open mind invites all and welcomes all sorts of opinions…🙂

        Blogging and WP indeed have helped all of us to become aware of so many things in the world! A blessing it is, truly…❤

  17. I agree with this:

    “In no way, a working mum loves her baby less than an all-time mum.”

    A few years back I interviewed mothers of young children. The decision to stay home or work outside of it seem to be no-win. Those who worked outside the home said people called them selfish. Stay at home moms set people thought they were lazy and bored.

    Good conclusion:
    Motherhood is a celebration, a joy for ever, and should not be a hindrance to the way of life.

  18. I understand where you’re coming from, I think. My mother and father both worked full-time when I was a boy. I don’t believe I ever suffered any great neglect because of it. Someone or other was always about when it mattered, and I always knew I was loved. Different people have different situations, I guess, but that was mine and it seemed to work out fine. 🙂

  19. A topic which can be debated a lot. Just a couple of days back my friend and I were talking exactly about the same issue. She was working in the banking sector, doing very well. Husband was also busy with his job. This in turn started adversely affecting the children’s emotional well-being. She was called in by her daughter’s principal. Ultimately she had to quit her job.
    If the support system at home is strong, it helps a woman progress in her professional life. Else it boils down to guilt/balance/sacrifice for the woman.

  20. Great post Maniparna- I believe it is important for a Mother to take some time for herself and take care of herself. An unhappy and unhealthy Mum is no fun for children and no fun for her. I enjoy the time when my wife leaves me and my son to do something on her own or with friends – we get to do men’s stuff haha. Take care Maniparna – look after yourself and be happy for your son🙂

  21. Such a blessing to be a mother! Yes, it is challenging, it leaves little time for our own pursuits and interests but only young mothers feel it…for few years. I would say this is the best time of our life, savour those precious moments because they would never come back. Career and its challenges would keep opening many avenues but those years of infancy of your child would fleet away without your notice. No regrets for giving all your time to your child as those are the moments of life time, invaluable and unexchangeable. live them fully.🙂

    • I absolutely agree with you that there’s nothing more blissful than to watch my child growing up. It’s such a heavenly feeling to see him smile, to feel the soft, velvety skin. But for working women, the situation becomes a tad harder because of huge expectations from the family or society. Men never face such challenge, the society never points a finger at them and, there lies the dichotomy.

      Thanks, Balroop, for sharing your thoughts…🙂

      • I am glad that men were not given this responsibility…there must be a reason behind this! Time is not far Mani when our society would realise where lies the reason…in our own homes and in the upbringing of male child. Women have been their own worst companions in various forms.

      • I support and believe in equality. Women and men both should share equal responsibilities, in everything. I know women are not always saint-like and have numerous flaws, but that doesn’t justify the way the patriarchal society looks after them…🙂

  22. Precise summation of travails of motherhood in a patriarchal society yours is, Mani. From an economic standpoint, two-income families are the order of the day. Hence couples in most of the today generation are bound to be mutually supportive to facilitate women’s career progression. The other, more important aspect is that motherhood is only one of many facets of a woman; also an individual in her own right, she needs opportunities to realise her potential, which requires wider interactions and involvement that may find fulfilment only through pursuing career options, and not by opting to remain relegated in stay-at-home routines. Having experienced life in different situations over a half century span and observed societal progressions, I would state there is perceptible change in outlooks and value systems. Under the new paradigm, both women and men are moving into mutually accommodative lifestyles. The women are aware of family responsibilities and are learning to juggle and balance multiple concerns. The children grow up, healthily and proudly adjusting to careering mothers and fathers, and men efficiently operate around such lifestyles anchoring it all. I am not claiming it is happening smoothly in copy book style sans hiccups in every society. Stresses keep occurring, tackled successfully in majority of cases and failing miserably in several others, as with most of worldly issues. What is pertinent is that the success rates significantly outweigh failures pointing unmistakably to the direction of gender equity and balance towards which societies are headed. The progression may be slow and riddled with resistance but there is no stopping it.

    • You have nicely explained the predicament of being a woman, a wife, a mother and a human being at the same time. Like you’ve said, we have to ‘juggle’ through so many things, we just can’t afford to be ourselves only. And, we are so much habituated with this, that, it often occurs as normal to us. But, hopefully, the situation is changing and maybe, one day, in the distant future, the phrase ‘gender discrimination’ will become an obsolete one…🙂

  23. There are times women end up feeling suffocated because there is so much pressure to prove that she is a good mother or for that matter a good wife. Continuously being judged on these grounds doesn’t actually help the mother or the child. It is mostly a tool to undermine a person for making choices different from that of others.

  24. Beautiful, thought provoking article…
    ” the impact of motherhood on a woman, the often exaggerated ‘perceived concepts of the saintly mother’, and the sacrifices women have to make on attaining motherhood” – all very succinctly brought out!
    But, on a positive note…..the society is slowly changing and am sure, things will only improve in future….
    Also, the role of fathers in rearing children (shared responsibilities, better understanding on the career aspirations of their spouses etc) is also equally important..

  25. not sure how many women would like to marry a guy who do not want to work or not working and be at home doing house hold chores..
    motherhood is painful yet beautiful . the moment you come home ad see you kid growing, smiling, learning new thing you would forget all the pain in the world. grand salute to all the women who are managing both work and kids. that’s how I say women are stronger.. becoming financially stronger ha become a necessity these days that education expenses of child is too high and hence to avail al the facility it has become mandatory for both parent to work. a joint effort by both husband and wife till 3-4 years will be helpful, financially and emotionally. yes it requires a little sacrifice but still as Hema stated, its an individual choice. I agree men may not do much sacrifice as women. but would definitely be supportive in parenthood.

  26. I, personally ,have not gone through all this yet coz I m still to embrace motherhood,but there are my colleagues who live similar fate.They can’t spare a single minute for themselves coz they have to rush back to home after their office hours for their babies and if they dare sparing few minutes for themselves, they are accused of being irresponsible. It’s a pity that everybody wants a working girl as their brides but nobody wants to treat them equal to their working boys!

  27. I agree with you Maniparna- It should be her own choice not forced upon. My Mother never took promotion for our sake but it was her independent decision and she was happy with it.

  28. well , motherhood Is definitely not a competition and a journey .
    women does take care of child exceptionally well compared to men . where mother teaches child to be sensible, how to love , show affection, and gives tremendous amount of care , men instills the confidence, teaches being responsible and both nurtures the kid in becoming an amazing human being. its the responsibility of both the parents to show involvement in upbringing , there are certain things which women can handle wonderfully than men , she I gifted with multi tasking talent naturally.
    yes it becomes difficult for a women to handle babies and focus on their career simultaneously but no need to quit the job . she can continue with opting for little flexibility at office, like work from home option , flexible timing , shifting the house nearer to office , etc .. so that it becomes easier to handle ..
    nanny is a secondary option if you ask me .. because what parents can teach and influence a child, a nanny would never do .
    if women is getting a little support from her husband that would make her life easier in many ways .
    onsite opportunities come and go..it all matters is what’s the priority at that point of time.
    I have seen parents leaving their child for 5 grand years with in laws and going to onsite .. and coming back just to complain child doesn’t seem to bond well with them.
    it would be difficult initially but with both parents being a little more patient, reassuring and helping each other would certainly make a better life

    • really appreciate your thoughts here, Supreet. The thing is, WFH is not available with every job or profession. Shifting the house is not possible most of the times, especially, if people live in their own house. The friend I mentioned, who quit her job, did that because she had no other option left. Otherwise, nobody wants to put a break in their career graph.

      Regarding onsite opportunity, you’re right to say it comes and goes. That’s why the lady there refused the promotion as well. But, have you ever heard of any father doing the same? It’s because a woman makes the sacrifice most of the times, knowingly or unknowingly.

      But, somehow, things are changing, v-e-r-y slowly, but definitely. I sincerely hope a paradigm shift would occur to the general mindset of the society in the future….:-)

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