Motherhood doesn’t wipe out the person you are

says Julianne Moore. And I agree with her. There’s a hot-headed, irritable, music-loving, free spirited woman in there and she surfaces once in a while.

I also love what she says about New York, that it’s a city with history. Well, Delhi is a little older than New York (!) and similarly, I love that my kids get to grow up in this city with a lot more history than most places.ย  (BTW Dilliwalas, have you seen this? You could take a Delhi Eco Tour! How about that?!)

There’s also a part where she says that she hates how reductive it is when people ask her how something affects her as a mother. Well, that is the bit that I don’t agree with yet, because it is, as of now, the biggest thing I’ve ever done. Even if I wrote a book, I somehow don’t think it would be as life changing as pushing two people out of .. .err.. well, you know, that cut in my belly.

I do think of most issues now, as a mother and I can’t help it. That’s me as a mother. A little different to what Julianne Moore is, as a mother. Maybe it’s because I’m an ordinary person and not a film star. Maybe if I were world famous, my sense of self would be bigger than what it is right now, you know, being just a nobody journo. Maybe my maid has a bigger sense of self than I do, despite being the domestic help. I don’t know really. So it might not be the job thing, right? All I know, is that right now, my being a mother, plays on all my decisions, my choice in many matters and shapes the person I am.

I’m the kind of person who throws herself into the choices she makes. To me, being in this moment, living it and feeling it fill every fibre of me, is very important. I feel it when I bury my nose in freshly shampooed baby hair and when I hold a little hand and shield him as I cross a busy road.

She goes on to talk about how it might be so in the early years of motherhood and the rush of hormones but that it changes over the years. And here I feel she might be right. Simply because I am not there yet, so I really can’t tell, can I?

What about you, mothers of older children. How much older? I dunno. Teenagers? Working moms as well as SAHMs. Tell me, do you still feel motherhood was the biggest thing that happened to you? Do your children still fill your nights and days and thoughts?

Will I get over this and be normal someday? Or do you think it’s a personality type thing. That some of us never get over it?

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49 thoughts on “Motherhood doesn’t wipe out the person you are

  1. Unmarried and no kids, old enough to get married and can I speak for my mom?
    My mom is a SAHM, who raised 4 kids and even today we kids come first. Eg, she wanted to buy couple of night wear for herself, but came back with more, which she is storing(for me) to send it through someone who comes to US. This is only a small incident, but you get the point.
    Once a mother, life is not the same anymore, you fall into the ‘giving without expectation’ category of love.

    Atleast this is my mother!

    Me: yep. even mine. will still pick up napkins, or a dupatta and make up a parcel to Delhi. or then for my brother and his wife – table mats, clothes – the kind of stuff you can easily get in the US – but its just the thought. the knowledge that she thought of us while she was out shopping.

  2. Very interesting and valid point. Would love to check the comments on this one. For the very same reasons that you mentioned.
    “Will I get over this and be normal someday?” I hear you.

    Me: no you won’t. is it even possible to get over that delicious son of yours?! i wont get over him, much less chances of you!

  3. Will I get over this and be normal someday? – are you implying that being a mom is abnormal???

    Me: achcha – theres nothing else on the spectrum kya, RJji?between normal and abnormal?! and well – maybe.. maybe i am ๐Ÿ™‚ i do call myself mad momma, dont i?

  4. Once you are a mother you are in it for life and I think what JM is trying to say is akin to our own relationships with newer people who enter our lives even though the first people we loved were our parents, they dont necessarily top the list after marriage and kids. They dont go down either (…u get what I am trying to say, right?)…we grow up.
    Similarly you are still growing along with your kids. Your concern for them will never go down but your confidence in them will grow. As they grow older, your involvement in their lives will go down and thats where your mind will start recalling other things that you are meant to do.
    Of course motherhood is a turning point in one’s life but now that my kids are getting older and since I dont worry about their basic needs as much, I do get time for being me for brief intervals and its nice.

  5. MM,

    I don’t know – I think this statement falls squarely into the realm of “it depends”….there are women defined by motherhood when their children are adults, and those to whom motherhood, even at its most hormonal, is merely another incident. I doubt you’re going to get much consensus on this one!

    As for me, I never felt motherhood defined me, however, I do find that parenthood in general changed me, so I bring that perspective with me – whether all issues require a parent-prism depends again, on the issue…

    so yeah, 3 paragraphs to say – it depends!

    M

  6. Hi MM,

    What a great topic to discuss! I’m a mom of a 2 year old and I work for a few hours a day while my child is at playschool.. scaled down much much in career after having a kid. Me, yes, I am totally into this mommy thing.. every decision, every small thing I do is incfluenced atleast to some degree by the fact that I am mother, my kid’s needs/likes etc.. this even the hours when I am at work and away from my darling.
    That being said, I am not sure age of the kid alone can change this rush of mommyhood that people have. I have several friends who have kids younger than mine, who are great employees and s/w engineers while at work (example, will still run a meeeting effectively at 6 pm at work, not being bogged down with worries such as if their child is hungry/cranky at daycare), they can be perfect party-goers and enjoy just like thye used to before having kids (when kids are with sitters etc).. and yet be truly mommy when chasing their kids with food at dinner time.
    I think the difference is that for them, being a mother is one facet of their life, for me it is ‘the single most important thing going on right now’.. and yeah, I am always looking for excuses to give everything else up and be with my baby! Let’s see if/how I change as she grows..

  7. I think for me the biggest thing that happened to me was marrying the man I married. Everything else, including the kids, were consequences of this biggie.
    I can happily ‘forget’ about my kids when they seem to be happy and doing well. The minute any of them is ill or unhappy or there’s a disaster in their parts of the world, I’m on eggshells. It never stops:(

  8. it is early days yet for the other questions…but nothing shamed me more than when I looked at my actions as a mother. I have ranted and raved at a number of people (when I should not have…but still do no regret it) but my darkest memory will be of nights when I screamed at Arhaan. That will be something I will never get over and forgive myself for.

  9. I like to think that motherhood doesn’t define me. So the other day I was reading a book where high school kids got a project to write their obituary. So I thought what I would want mine to say. And I surprised myself when I realized I want it to read ‘a great mother’ in the first sentence itself. I was like don’t I have anything else that I would like people to remember about me or known for!!!!!!

  10. despite being the domestic help

    Ouch. That sounds like she wouldn’t deserve that bigger sense of self, only because she’s the domestic help.

    Me: well see when you take it out of context, anything can sound like an ouch na? read the entire paragraph and its no slur on either maid, or Julianne. Merely on me.

  11. i think you’re right it could be a personality type. i don’t see myself ever getting over motherhood. you and i babe, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

    Me: well Mona darling, with you by my side… i’m willing to wait and watch ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Interesting post MM> But no comments from me cuz I’m not a mom so I really don’t know how it is. Though my mom does say, that though I am now 25 and married, she feels that she now has 2 children. So basically the your mom-tendencies will go from 2 to 4 in another 20 years ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. haha..thats the funniest thing i heard… i think.. once a mother..always a MOTHER. And that doesn’t mean the mother has NO life of her own. But at least from whatever i have known and figured from my experience, motherhood is not really a JOB that you can switch off from post working hours..no matter what the age of the child. Even a 50yr old mother worries if her child is sick or having trouble at her child’s work place. OF course, the intensity may be lesser, but she doesnt EVER switch off, rgt??

    Whatever makes you think, feeling the way you do, is abnormal? Nothing to do with personality thing, celeb, non celeb etc…you are a warm hearted person and would melt looking even at a child on the street… and you are talking abt ur OWN children here babe…

    Of course, i have also seen mothers who have left their 10 day old baby with maids and gone out of town to attend weddings etc… never even attempted to nurse their child.. so that THEIR partying would continue… but i am assuming that’s the kind we are not even talking off here.

  14. Well, My younger one is 3 so I am still kissing toes and smelling head and giving and receiving a lot of ummahs, so am not qualified I guess. But I remember clearly when my grandmother fell ill, she was in her 80s. Her step mom (who had raised her from the age of 2) brought her a Horlicks bottle and I heard her saying to grandma “eta roj khabe” (have this every day)!I realised that for a mother it does not matter whether her child is 1 or a 100 years old she will always be her little baby and yes, her whole life will be oriented towards her babies.

  15. Yes, motherhood was physically, emotionally the biggest thing that happened to me. There’s no getting over it. Just like your limbs, intestine and kidneys are a part of you, so is your motherhood, even if your kids are about 50 years old and happen to live in another part of the world.

    “Will I get over this and be normal someday?”
    Since you can’t get over it, you are pretty normal right now.

    Me: *big grin and hug*

  16. You know MM, as the child gets older, and needs me less a constant presence around, I realise I have to rediscover the woman I buried somewhere when I decided to have him. You know?

    Me: well here’s the thing – she’s around, not dead yet. but this is also the biggest thing that has happened to her.

  17. ๐Ÿ™‚

    too much to think abouit post a late night movie waalah morning!

    i would go with M who says it depends! ๐Ÿ˜€ it depends on the kind of person you are, the situations you face and the life you lead.

    and i think eitherways its normal. i would love to be a woman with a life that goes beyond her kids when they are older because i dont want to grow up and whine saying “look i sacrificed everything for the kids and now they dont have time!”. god forbid if that happens!

    Me: again – i think thats a personality type. there are whiners. and there are those who enjoy even those years with the husband and take what comes their way.

    right now, yes life pretty much revolves around the kid! and the husband too actually! ๐Ÿ™‚

    cheers!

  18. Hmm..speaking of my mom(she is an SAHM), my sis and I do fill her nights and days and thoughts. She does look at everything from the ‘mother’ angle. Once, when I hit a real low, she was more upset than I was. I said to her then that she really shouldnt be following my ups and downs, because as a person I am bound to have them and its going to hit her badly every time. And a few days later she told me, there was nothing wrong with being that way, because thats what being a mom meant to her and that her highs and lows can not unlinked from my own. And that as people, our lives are strongly influenced by the lives of those who matter to us.

    I didnt agree with her then, but thinking calmly later, I feel she is not wrong either.

    So, yes, I think another person can strongly influence our own sense of self. And yes, maybe it is a personality type. But I dont see anything abnormal about it.

  19. After reading Inbavalli’s..
    Yeah, my mom says that too. That she cant help think of us as satellite body parts.:)

  20. Absolutely ‘yes’! And I think it always ever will be. I am totally consumed by it and not ashamed to say so. Many people have told be that I do ‘baarabaari’ (I don’t know how to translate that…closest would probably be OTT), but it’s the biggest chunk of who I am.

    I am other things of course, but a mother first and foremost!

    Me: ๐Ÿ™‚ i admire people who stand up for what they believe in, regardless of what others have to say about it. i’ll share your corner if you dont mind! there’s no shame in caring for humans above a career.

  21. Wasnt gonna comment on this post, given i dont qualify to, but read one of the comments that sounded so much like me. Back in college, we had Obituary writing as part of the creative writing course i took. And being a good mother (to 2 adorable girls), came tops.
    I guess it had to do with my mum…. hmmm, i am just gonna mail you the details.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. So ill-equipped to comment on this, but seeing the variety of mothers around me, I think it’s more a personality type than a phase.

  23. I m yet to become mother but from now only my whole thought revolve arround baby…eg reading child care books, mommy’s blog, buying stuff for child..i m so much interested in kiddies corner in every shop..

    If this thing can happen to me when its still two monhts left for my child to come in this world…i can understand with you having two kids around…there must be no other thought..so its perfectly normal
    cheers !!

  24. Hi MM,

    I’d like to give a daughter’s perspective to this. My mother is my hero because ever since I was a kid she told me how important it was for a woman to be defined by her talents rather than who’s husband she is or who she raises. She told me that it was very important to be accomplish something that was purely yours. That’s why I’m so proud of her because now when my brother and I have our lives, she still has a great career going and still continues to be my role model.

    me: again – i think thats a function of the person she is. there are plenty of SAHMs who have very full lives, involved in community, other elders in the family, hobbies… i dont think a career is the only other way to be fulfilled… and also – now that i am a working mom i realise that my career means nothing to me. its there, it exists, but it in no way is greater than the kids and if i weigh the two, the kids still come out tops. its purely mine and yet, I choose to be a mother first. so like i said.. its about the personality type.

    On the other hand, my friends have completely detached from their mothers who didnt work. They don’t discuss their careers etc and completely shut that part of their life from their Mom

    Me: again – thats probably just their bad luck. i know plenty of SAHMs who are much more tuned into their kids’ lives. whereas i dont discuss my career with my mom because we get into too many arguments!!! so its about your personality type and i think its a myth that having a career gives you a better sense of self…

    I Don’t have kids yet but when I do, I think that my ability to utilize my talents will still be important to me besides raising my kids

    I wrote a letter to my mom for womens day on this very topic here: http://ashanka.blogspot.com/2009/01/glass-is-half-full-ma.html

  25. Get over motherhood,
    what does that mean? Like you stop remembering that u popped 2 out, that you watched them grow, that you understood what comforted them and what ticked them off, like u want to protect them from anything bad but you still want them to learn how to discover what works for them, like you know how he when he is well fed, like how you itched to slap the older kid who wudnt play with yours but let the brat learn how to find some newer friends. I’m a working Mom, I have friends and I spend time with myself being the woman I am; that includes being a mother.

    Me: No – I dont think you can get over motherhood. I mean get over how big it is…

  26. a lot of experienced moms with older kids have told me that it never changes–a mommy is a mommy is a mommy!

    Me: damn. i guess we’re stuck then. glad to be in good company though!

  27. I’m not married and I don’t have any kids. But from what I’ve seen, I think I’ll have to agree with Julianne Moore. It’s important to be a mother, but a lot of mothers become so absorbed in motherhood that they forget to have lives outside of it. And pretty soon they donโ€™t! People live for their children and end up letting go of the people they used to be before. I’m not talking about you, cos you seem to take up motherhood as an add-on to everything that you already are. Which I think is the right way to do it.

    But I know of mothers who are so obsessed with their kids that they don’t let go when it’s time to. When the child becomes an adult and the parent chooses to ignore that and still try to live through their children, it ruins the relationship. A baby would want his or her mother at their every beck and call, but as time goes by, that’s just not the case anymore. So when that happens and the child wants a life of his own, the mother needs to stop having the motherhood add-on and just become what she was before. Not that she’ll ever stop being a mother. But she’ll have more time to be herself.

    And if she had let go of everything that she used to be before โ€œto live for her kidsโ€ sheโ€™s going to end up feeling lost when the โ€œkidsโ€ donโ€™t need her anymore.
    Sheโ€™ll lose her โ€œpurpose in lifeโ€. And then whatโ€™ll she do?

    What do you think?

    Me: I think – again – which is something i said in my post – that its a personality type. I know many fathers too who refuse to let go of their kids and keep interfering and making life hard for them. and that generation of fathers werent SAHDs. So its again – I think, a control issue. If you’re a controlling parent, you will always be one. As for mothers who stay home, most of them do find the empty nest hard to deal with – but i find many of them rather gainfully occupied in terms of working with the community etc. The thing is, they are the kind of people who could NOT have been working moms. It would not have suited them at all – and this is the lesser of two evils.

    i think the difference is in what i said – my kids arent my purpose in life, but I’d be lying if I said anything was bigger than them.

  28. For me, being a mother is the most important thing that I have ever, and might likely ever, do. From the 19 year old to the 7 year they are in my thoughts all day and all night. Raising a decent human being is not easy but it is rewarding.
    But, I have not lost “me” and I continue to try to learn and grow as a woman not just as a mom, I think you parent better if do that.

    I have to work, but I had always wanted to be a SAHM, I was for a couple of years with the oldest boy and I loved it. I had planned on it always being that way but I had also not planned on becoming a single parent! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Me: hugggggg. see – you made my point. that having a job or being a working mom doesnt really make a diff because thats the person you are. one who is as consumed by motherhood as i am. it really IS the thing that fills most of your waking thoughts…

  29. i rock him gently in my arms while posting this reply, and look at his face, he gives me a grin in half asleep state, well isn’t motherhood the only thing ever i wanted? but what happens to me when i loose my temper over petty things like not able to take a bath or not finish some cleaning… do i stop being a mother then? maybe i do but then he gives me a smile and all temper flies away.
    there are many a times when i get frustated coz i see my friends flourishing in their careers, they have resolved not to have babies and enjoy life. he is too small to understand why his mother is getting angry.. but he gives me a smile and again i forget everything. i go out shopping for myself, endup buying for him… maybe this is motherhood.
    everyone who comes accross suggests that i should now start working, atleast in a 9to5 job, i look at him and tell them, i’ll find some productive way of remaining involved, i can imagine myself a housewife forever, but not for even one moment i can imagine him leaving helpless and going away for a career. this is motherhood and i know it is what defines me and will be the essence of me.

    Me: ๐Ÿ™‚ hugs.

  30. Once a mom.. always a mom.. I dont think anything can ever take over how much a mom thinks about her kids. But reading at some of the comments here I do agree that be it SAHM or a working mom She needs to know when to let go and let her kids be on their own.

    You are right many of the mothers who stay at home or even those who werent SAHMs and their entire life has revolved around the kids find an emptiness in their lives if they cannot occupy themselves in any other activities.

    Sometimes this manifests as a over interfering MIL or sometimes as a depressed mother whose kids dont need her anymore. Depends on their personality types. I feel sad for both.

  31. “i think its a myth that having a career gives you a better sense of selfโ€ฆ”

    I don’t think it’s a myth. You don’t need a career, but you do need to know that you are capable of earning a living and being independent to have a better sense of self in later stages of life. Both my aunt and MIL had very similar lives. They were both SAHMs by choice, dedicated their life to bringing up their kids and ensuring their family’s well being. Now with their kids married and having their own life, both women are looking back at their lives and are feeling that they have nothing to show for it. Somehow they don’t see their well established and successful kids as their ‘achievement in life’.

    Me: and i think thats because society doesnt teach us to appreciate it. recently the papers carried an article on some women in Kerala fighting for salary as homemakers. finally realising the worth of what they do. keeping a clean, warm house and taking the stress off the rest of the family. its a great job. and i think the way society looks down on it, reflects on their self esteem…

    Whereas my mother who was a working mom (not a career woman), and who took early retirement to take care of me and my brother after my grand mom passed away, does not suffer from the same low self esteem. It could very well be their personalities, but I highly doubt it.

  32. I think motherhood changes you completely! Once a mother, always a mother. I react so differently to certain things, now that I am a mom, esp. those related to under-privileged children. Its not that I wasn’t empathic to them before, its that now I can sense the pain of a child and its mother at a personal level and as a mother, can’t imagine how it must be to live through something like that. Even if motherhood does not engulf you, it will change how you think.

    I am not sure that its a passing phase. I can see how one can get engulfed by motherhood and I don’t blame the women who do. Who can resist that gummy smile, those wet lips, the warm hugs and such self-less love?

    It may change over time but the constant worry will only change to a lesser worry about their well-being. My 80 year old grandma still fusses over her 55 year old daughter who fusses over me and my daughter ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think you can change these things ๐Ÿ™‚

    Me: ROFL. AND the 3 month old mommy makes an entrance ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. The 9 months in our womb, while we are nurturing them…a lifetime supply of motherhood blood is slowly but steadily transfused and this can’t get out of our system and is something that always stays with us. This is the part I didn’t realize or no one told me about motherhood until I had my kids and kept thinking was not normal! This I guess is the biggest kept secret of motherhood!

    I guess motherhood is by far the most beautiful thing. The excitement, the anticipation, the smile every single day when my 27 month old comes running to see me when I get off the bus in the evening and the the toothless smile of my 8 month old from a 100m away…is just priceless..they not only radiate the happiness to me but to everyone around on the road and on the bus…. I can hear my son wake up middle of the night even when I am not in his room or anywhere near him when all the doors are shut..don’t ask me how..it just happens, I guess my mommy antenna just pops up when they are not near me..We will never get over it girlfriend ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Absolutely, MM. Absolutely. I am a mother first and foremost and proud of it. Anything else takes a back seat. While I do try and accommodate my writing after P goes to bed, i’d give it up in a heartbeat if it comes into conflict with my parenting.

  35. I didn’t mean that the woman needs to have a career. I just meant that she should not forget that she’s not just a mom.
    Cos with my mum, that’s what happened.
    My mum is very close to my younger sister and doted on her (spoilt her to bits too ๐Ÿ˜› ) and now my sis is in the UK and my mum, poor thing, feels completely lost. She’s got no purpose in life anymore. And no matter how many times I tell her to just live for herself and for once pamper herself instead of someone else, nothing happens. She doesn’t understand what it means. E.g.,If I never gifted her spa treatments and pushed her to go for one, she’d never go out and get one herself. Not cos we can’t afford it, but cos she’d rather that me or my sis get it. THAT is wrong. Maybe I’m just talking abt my mum here and not everyone else’s. I dunno. :o)

  36. Once a mother, always a mother. I would never want that part of me never dead, because for me becoming a mother has been life-altering. But I also don’t to suffocate the kids with my motherhood. Confusing? I’m trying to strike a balance.

    I’d like to know what other moms think too.

  37. I think I get what Julianne meant. If I am affected by something, it is on a whole as a person and not just as a mother. My intellect is not just limited to being a mother. Here the argument is not whether motherhood was/is the most important thing to happen to you but whether you have ever been slotted JUST as a mother. As in – if you are a mother THAT is all you know and feel and care about. As if you cannot react to anything – political, intellectual, social as a PERSON. Just as a mother. I can’t exactly express what I want to say. Sorry!!

    For me – yes motherhood is the thing that has changed me to the biggest extent. But I don’t consider myself ONLY a mother. I am a person. Just like after getting married I didn’t just become Mrs. so-and-so. I still was the same person. Yes I did change a lot even after getting married – one HAS to when one decides to spend their life with someone else. But marriage didn’t take away my sense of self. Neither did motherhood. It did redefine it.

  38. Oh and yes – when I was newly married, I threw myself completely into being Mrs. so-and-so. Lost my identity in being that. Then, when I was a new mother, yes I completely threw myself into that. Now, after having been Mrs. so-and-so for 13 years and a mother for 10, I am regaining my identity. So I think it is right to assume that as time passes, we find a balance between all our selves.

  39. It is tautological isn’t it? If motherhood is central to your identity obviously its the most important thing that happens to you. If not, well, its not.

    I think the reason parenthood is such an important thing to happen to most people is simply because its probably one of the few decisions that are irreversible. And so it alters the course of one’s life. Most other events can be altered so one can go back to a pre-event time.

    btw, I’m curious. Who do you think will actually reply “no, its not” to your question about whether motherhood is the most important thing that has happened to them? Its like asking people whether they regret having children. If they answer “no” you can’t be sure whether its because they actually don’t, or whether they are just reporting that out of self-presentation concerns.

    n!

  40. I think motherhood was the biggest thing that happened to me but no, my children do not fill my thoughts the way they used to. They have their own life and indeed they would be very worried about me if I thought of them too much. And I was like that, intense about the motherhood. The more intense you are, the quicker it gets out of the system because the intensity goes on to other parts of one’s life. It has to, because the children don’t need you that much. Well, I encouraged independence from a very young age so I have managed to wean them away pretty well. And without pain too because I believe that the best mother is one who encourages independence.

  41. This is interesting to me as someone who doesn’t have kids. Many of my friends are having their second child now.

    With a few of them, I feel as though I’ve completely lost them to motherhood. They are constantly distracted, more than a bit impatient, and very focussed on their own family and children. I understand the hugeness of the experience but in some way, it has made them less empathetic to other people.

    I’m wondering if they’ll ever recover from the experience.

    me: has it done that? I guess its because you kind of expect others to understand the amount it takes out of you when you see simple things like people obsessing over their dogs. You expect them to realise how much more goes into your child.

  42. Pingback: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun « On a Wing and a Prayer

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