Motherhood is such a universal experience and yet every mom’s journey is unique and different. To celebrate motherhood, we hear from different moms at different stages in their journeys. Today, Aparna Chandrahasan, mom to an 8-month-old baby girl, tells us why she considered herself a “bad mom”.
I am a self-proclaimed drama queen and thrive on soppy Indian films, these i believe were reasons enough to walk into the scan room with a box of tissues. I knew exactly what would happen. The doctor will show me a tiny speck on the fancy LED screen and say “this is your baby” and I will hold my husband’s hand, squeeze it and then one tear drop would roll down my cheek.
None of that happened!
She showed me the speck (which, by the way, I couldn’t spot!), told me everything was fine and to come back 3 weeks later. And me, I was staring at the screen stone-faced. Worse still, I turned to see my husband squeeze my hand tight and wipe away a tear. And then it hit me, I’M A BAD MOM!
I continued to grapple with my new found responsibility. I did everything by the book. I went to fitness class, ate healthy, changed my lifestyle-everything to keep my baby safe and happy. But everything with such a sense of practicality and precision that it scared me. Where was the emotion? Am i not supposed to feel like “I’ve known this baby forever”? And there it was again – I’M A BAD MOM!
The bad mom streak continues
In the next scan the baby had a more human form, I was so excited that I was actually laughing. And then one day as I was talking to the baby, she kicked me! It was an out-of-the-world experience. And every time she kicked she brought a smile to my face. But the drama queen in me was not satisfied, the “tear” continued to elude me, reminding me every once in a while that I’M A BAD MOM!
In the OT all strapped up and ready for my c-section, everything seemed surreal. My husband walked in, looking all excited and flushed. He sat next to me and smiled. I gave him a ghost of a smile. I didn’t even have my script ready here, didn’t know what I should be feeling. Everything happened very quickly, and suddenly, just like that, I felt lighter and heard a shrill cry. My baby! I was cold, shivering and happy. And you know what, I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.
But my journey had just begun. I continue to question myself – her first colic attack, the first time she fell, her first cold. And if at any time I’d allow myself to forget, there were plenty of people waiting to remind me. The concerned neighbour who accusingly told me that my baby was very thin, the successful friend who told me that I should be getting back to full-time work what with both sets of grandparents in the city to baby-sit, the OCD maid who felt I let my baby cry for a tad too long, the grey-haired aunty in the park who felt I was stifling the child by putting her in a sling… and the list goes on.
Maybe I’m not so bad after all
Now, 8 ½ months later, I have become wiser and my hormones are not playing truant. I smile and give my (what I call) “mommy nod” when people question my parenting skills. I have also taken an oath that when my daughter is 5 years old I will not walk up to the mother with a stroller and cross check her baby’s milestones. No, motherhood is not overrated but it surely is work in progress.
Nila! Before you came into my life I never knew that it was possible to love someone who yanks my hair to wake me up. You are the best ‘job’ I ever had. Yes, I’m still a ‘work in progress’ but I do know just what brings the sweetest smile to your face. And yes, you do hold the whole of my heart in your small hands!
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