Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Theme for February: Love Thyself

This post if by Poppins of Babiesanon.

I thought I had a patent on guilt before I met all these wonderful mothers on the internet. My biggest guilty feeling was that I didn't enjoy babies. I never cared much for kids, never hated them either. Just that they were not on my radar. That was the crux of the working mom's guilt for me. More than the typical "I leave my child for another to raise" sentiment, my guilt was that I enjoyed my time away. What kind of a mother enjoys being away from her own child?

Dear Me:
You know what I DO like about you? That despite the fact that selfishness comes easier to you than not, despite the fact that you STILL don't have a way with babies, you have dug in deep and sought out the maternal instinct in you. You did not merely fulfill your duty to your husband when you birthed a baby, but you strove to be the best mother you can be. Best not in the actual act of parenting, but in the emotions of parenting.

I remember how you were on the day you delivered your baby prematurely. Via the dreaded C-Section. It was sudden, your husband was not around, Poppin was in the ICU with low birthweight, there was worried family milling around, your milk hadn't come in and worst of all, you were slightly disappointed that you didn't get the boy that you had wanted.

But you showed a temperament, a calm and patient one, that is not your nature at all. On that day. And in the weeks that followed. You surprised and delighted me with your acceptance of the situation. Rather than ranting and raving about how life is unfair (as you always do otherwise), you calmly set about dealing with the situation. You put, maybe for the first time in your life, another's needs before yours. And you did it without any forethought, without feeling like a martyr, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. You loved your child instantly, and you focussed relentlessly on her wellbeing. All this very calmly and naturally. There were many moments later when I wish you would show this calm always, but that would be asking for too much huh?

Rest assured, whenever it has been crucial, you have done well. Remember the time when you had just moved back to India and a week after you started work for the first time, Poppin fell seriously ill? Do you remember that horrific moment when she just lay limp in your hands and you did not even have a paediatrician to call? How you and your FIL rushed into a Doctor's clinic. How you saw the innumerable people waiting outside, but just barged in anyway and pleaded to the Doctor, a little dramatically perhaps, to see your baby immediately? That day it was not your calm that helped you but your more natural intuition and flair for the dramatic. And your stubborn streak.

And then there are those everyday moments. Coming back from the office, always early, never late. Not just because you didn't want your child to feel deprived of your presence, but because you wisely knew that you are not indispensable at work, only to your own baby. And the night wakings. Despite all your complaints about the late night wakings, you always did it yourself. Never sought the help of another, because you viewed it as another chance to bond with your baby. Who knows maybe a long time from now, she will remember how she woke up in the middle of the night but you always attended to her. How when she was sick you slept with her on your lap? Maybe she won't remember that or the feeling of security, but you will and will be glad for it.

You work outside the home, but you know why you do it. You don't have to perhaps for the money, but you have to do it regardless. Maybe you do it because you want to be a role model to your girl. You don't want her to think that working outside the home is something only men do. You have gone through a lot of soul searching on this topic and I now concede that you know what you are doing. I know that if you ever felt that she was being shortchanged you would give it up in a heartbeat and not feel like you have sacrificed something. That's the beauty of it all. Who wants a mother who feels resentful about her choices anyway?

I like your parenting style too. You love her to death but are not afraid of being the unpopular parent when it comes to discipline. You get angry but never nasty. There's a difference. I think there is nothing more damaging to a child than a nasty parent. Without ever having thought much about babies and parenting before you had one, you surprised me with your clear picture of the kind of parent you want to be. And you know what, I think you will get there one day !

In the meantime, just don't forget to love yourself too.


Asha said...

Great post P!:))

Not every woman has the desire to be mom or want to stay around the kids, I thnk that's quite okay.
I have never worked "outside" the home for money or for any other reason but both my kids have ambitions and work hard towards it. They also like me staying home too. I am there for them whenever they need me and at any time, they do appreciate that.
I do admire the women who work outside too, takes some organization to manage both home and work! It's all about our choices and what makes us feel good!:))

Sheela said...

very honest and direct post, poppins! and, i like that you mentioned anger - it is a legitimate emotion but how we express it and handle it and disperse it is what sets us apart from being the nasty/mean one who probably ends up setting a bad example to our kids... am glad parenthood somehow helps us learn the difference and helps us deal with not just our kids, but with all the adults we encounter in our lives who drive us crazy :)

indosungod said...

wonderful letter poppins's mom. Yes the choices we make have to make us happy and reading your letter you are and that makes the reader happy too :)

Sandeepa said...

Thats the way Poppins Mom...being happy about your choices and not feeling the guilt either way.

A 4.0 GPA that I say....A+ in all.

mummyjaan said...

"Whenever it has been crucial, you have done well."

That's all that counts, doesn't it, but it sounds like you've done better than that, no, Poppins' mom?

"Angry but never nasty."

That's priceless.

I enjoyed reading your post; even more, I appreciated the way you made me look at myself in a better light. I began writing my own letter in a somewhat negative frame of mind, but by the end of it, I was beginning to give myself a little more credit for being a "good mum".

It was a great idea, Poppins. Thank you.

bird's eye view said...

Very nice post, P. I love the way you were so candid about not being a 'mom-in-training' from the start - echoes me completely, and yes, when I started working, I did feel the guilt about the need to get out and work, purely for my own satisfaction.

neha said...

HI, i loved your post. really, touched my heart. i am a working woman, planning for kids. and i am scared like hell, about how i am going to manage it all. it was then, i thouht of looking at internet, and your post really lifted my spirits.
Thanks a million, for this wonderful post. Please keep posting.

Munchkin said...

Lovely. Enough said.

Poppins said...

Thanks you guys! It's been long since I dropped by - so quiet on this forum. Wake up!