Methinks Kiran and Monika are growing old (albeit gracefully) and forgetful because I could swear we did one of these What Mommyhood taught me tags ages ago. As The Goddess of Love Jihad and Aneela are my witnesses, it might have been titled differently but I did (And good Lord, you readers amaze me, but Deepti found it. Here is the old one) and now I’m at a loss to find five new things. On the other hand, if no one remembers it, I can probably repeat a couple and get away with it – hah! Just kidding – okay so I’m going to try not to say the things I’ve said before, but it’s not going to be easy since I blog so much about motherhood, so here goes.
1. Mommyhood has taught me – to judge people more. Yes, I know I am inviting trouble, but it’s true. I judge people because everything matters that much more. As a carefree unmarried girl I was rather live and let live. But I have kids and suddenly I feel more invested in the environment, politics, society. My perspective has changed. And I often feel that there are so many people speaking up for mining in biodiverse forests, firecracker pollution, sex trade, saving the oceans – how come no one speaks up about kids being brought up by strangers, who rarely meet their parents and are just another slot in a busy day, kids who are encouraged to watch TV all day, kids who aren’t taught the ways of peace? They may not be anyone else’s cause, but they are mine, and I will speak up regardless of what others think of it.
2. Mommyhood has taught me – that ambition is a polysemous word. At some point they were to be editor or a published author. Now it’s more about spending time with family and living a fuller life. I recently read an article where a young mother asks if motherhood derails careers. Yes, I want to laugh. It does, and it doesn’t matter. I can’t remember the last time it mattered to me. I want to live slower and wilder and freer and I thank my kids for giving me a chance to re-examine my choices. More money won’t buy me more time with them and a better school or more toys won’t give them childhood memories of time spent with mama. Editorship and the responsibilities that come with it can wait. In fact as I told the OA some years ago – I don’t know if I want to do that anymore at all. Does this mean I don’t want to work? No – I get to do the work I like, but I also like to read, garden, travel and do more. Don’t ask me why, but this wisdom only came to me after I had the kids.
3. Mommyhood has taught me – to love my body and see it as something with its own set of functions (barring my aching knees and my thinning hair) not a mere mannequin. From being the slim girl with the enviable waist I’ve become the woman who respects each part of my body for the functions it performs. I’ve learnt that breasts are not a decor accent but there for a purpose. I learnt that the collar bones models starve for, cut into my children’s cheeks and make them squirm. I’ve learnt that children don’t see my thinning hair. They just put a bindi on my forehead and say – Mama, you look beautiful. And I am hoping that someday I pass on to my daughter a healthy respect for my body and the food I put in to it and that she never hears me pass up a bowl of peaches and cream because “I’m on a diet”. I’ve learnt to get up and walk that last mile and get a bit of exercise instead. I will not glorify stretch marks to badges of valour status, but I will admit that they tell a story. They’re like the rings you see when you cut a tree trunk. Each ring tells you about an experience, so do the grey hairs, wrinkles and the cesarean pouch. The chipped nails tell of days of bum washing, the hair escaping the hastily put clip tell of more focus on the two kids being bundled into the car than self, the sling bag across the body instead of a fancy handbag tells of the need for two free hands.
4. Mommyhood has taught me – everything that I should have already learnt – or atleast gave me a refresher course. Antananrivo, Rabat, Godthab and Juneau – I revisited the cities around the world. I had forgotten what causes lightning and thunder. But the Brat asks and Google answers and I learn. I have learnt rules of grammar where earlier I only spoke instinctively. I have refreshed history and I have no doubt that as he grows I will revisit math and science and learn so that I can teach him too. I am grateful for this second chance at an education.
5. Mommyhood has taught me – humility. Just when I think I know it all, I get a kick in the face and I am taken down a peg or two and I learn that I knew nothing to begin with. Sometimes I take the judging too far, or I discipline too much, or I push too hard or I simply try too hard. I want to be the mother who bakes, who reads to her kids, who is impulsive and fun, who has a career (hah!), who cuddles babies to sleep, who is calm and firm, who is always there, who never loses her cool… And then I realise that I can’t be all of those. I can only be the best I can given my nature, my circumstances and my support system.
I’m not tagging anyone – because I want all of you to do this with me. Do it in the comments if you don’t have a blog. It’s a nice session of introspection. I’ve done this so many times and yet I feel that I learn something new each time. Thanks for the tag, Monika! This was fun.