Being Women

Why Shame Mothers? Tips To Guilt-Free Motherhood

Mothers face constant judgement, regarding their choices -from childcare arrangements to academic decisions and even tiffin packed for school.

The Shame

“Your son stays with your mother? So you are here in Pune, and he’s with her in Mumbai?”

“So he manages without you?”

“I wouldn’t ever abandon my kid, so what’s the big deal if you don’t complete your postgraduation?”

Juggling Motherhood and Education

Well, these are just three phrases I have mentioned here. I was at the receiving end of a lot more judgements every day for an entire year. Why? Because my son was two years old when I enrolled for a master’s degree. As I was working and studying at the same time, my son stayed with my mom in Mumbai for like ten months.

This phase of accusations wasn’t the first and, by no means, the last.

Second Round of Scrutiny

The allegations began when I resumed work after six months of maternity leave. The queries were similar. Wasn’t my child too young to be left without me around him all the time? What was the big urgency to work after all?

Dropping Math: A Controversial Decision

Then came a time when, as an eighth grader, my kid found mathematics too difficult. After a little research, I realised we could drop math out of his curriculum. And we ended up doing just that, but the backlash this time was more vicious than ever before.

“How will he become an engineer without math?”

“He’s a boy; you’ll let him opt for humanities?”

“What kind of a mother are you?”

The Never-Ending Scrutiny

My son is all grown up and in college now, but the accusations haven’t ceased yet. Because the lunch I pack for him is cooked by my Maharashtrian Mausi and not me.

So how could a mother deny her kid of Maa ke Haath Ka Khana?

The Unrelenting Guilt Trip

In case you are wondering why I’m going on and on with my rant, it’s just to enlighten all you new mothers out there that, come what may, if you are a woman, especially a mother, be prepared for a lifelong guilt trip.

Because nothing you do is ever right, and there’s no dearth of free advice in this world.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Now tell me, back in the day, when I was under tremendous academic and job pressure when I realised I couldn’t devote enough time and attention to my son, I dropped him at my mom’s for a few months. I knew he was safe and being well taken care of. I could focus on work more, I completed my coursework sooner, my career got the boost it needed, and this did help my son in the future. Then why was I deemed wrong?

Supporting My Son’s Interest

Being a professor of Electronics Engineering myself, I have seen many students struggle with Mathematics, Science, and other technical aspects. From a young age, my son displayed a strong inclination towards languages and an equal abhorrence for Maths. As he approached his 10th-grade board exams, Mathematics was getting insufferable. So I stood by his decision to drop it for the future and choose Computers instead. He chose Humanities post 10th, and he’s doing extremely well in academics. And more than anything, he’s happy.

Yet, I’m a bad mother!

As I have mentioned, I’m not particularly proud of my culinary skills, nor do I enjoy cooking. But if I desire to provide my family with home-cooked food and employ a good person to do that for me, why should I be made to feel guilty?

Long story short, my intention in penning this article is to point out some instances where you will be picked on by the so-called society along your motherhood journey. And they aren’t going to be limited to just these. And perhaps far more malicious.

A Happy Mother Raises A Happy Child

I believe that just as they say every child is unique, so is every mother. You brought your child into this world, and you know what’s best for him. And for God’s sake, a helicopter mother isn’t perhaps the best mother. Rather, there is no trophy for the best mother. In my opinion, it’s a wrong notion that a mother should always place her child’s happiness before hers and that sacrifices make for good motherhood. I feel it’s simple: a happy mother raises a happy child. Choose your source of happiness, be content, and everything else will follow.

Beyond the Myth

At the end of the day, you, as a mother, are human too. And you are allowed to err. So rather than placing mothers on a pedestal of spotless divinity, treat them as normal women, like any other woman of flesh and blood. Who laughs, who cries, who works outside the home, who is at home, who craves some me-time, who strives to make her dreams come true…

Along the way, they’ll shame you, lecture you, find faults, and pull you down. But listen to me, you are special and doing your best, and there’s no reason to feel guilty. Ever. 

Preethi Warrier

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