You may be the most outgoing person among the people you know and you may be the most carefree among them all but once you become a mother or once you are on the way there, you start turning into a paranoid freak. If you don’t, the people around will surely help you reach that goal and you find yourself forgetting to comb your hair, jumping at every noise you hear from your baby’s room or holding your breath every time you think you hear a random child yell out “MAMMA”.
Let’s start with my first trimester, the very first time I was pregnant. Until I knew I was expecting, I travelled on potholed roads, ate papayas which are apparently not good for pregnant women, I played badminton, I carried heavy buckets, I danced and more. But the instant I realized and declared I was pregnant; I received different types of advice from numerous people around me. In the end I just sat at home and did nothing. I did not have children to cater to and neither did I have to cook or clean as I had the necessary help. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to bend or swat or jump. I wasn’t allowed to eat certain fruits and kept away from certain foods, so dancing was out of the question.
As calm as I normally am, I was already concerned then. I made sure I ate only rice and gravies to fill me up so my baby got enough and more food to be fat. Ghee was something I was told to have regularly so my cook would include it when he made rotis. I put on a total of 16 kilograms but my baby weighed 2.45 kilograms only. Pork would make my baby hairy. So I avoided it and my daughter came out hairless, on the head too. It is widely believed that a baby will be deformed if the mother roams around during the time of eclipse so I reluctantly went for the doctor’s appointment scheduled on that day, and prayed until my delivery that it shouldn’t affect my baby, but my baby came out fine.
Then fear begins attacking when people around tell you that your milk wouldn’t be enough. I had to eat certain foods. Formula milk was hypothetically unhealthy for the child so I had to eat foods despite my aching or overfull stomach. If she cried, I would get stressed because I thought she had colic as that was seemingly something new-borns normally had. Her skin was scaly and the nanny would inform me that it was necessary to apply gram flour to smoothen it out. I couldn’t get back home without buying gram flour. It was apparently very important for my daughter’s normal smooth skin. The baby couldn’t sleep in a certain position or the head would supposedly get flat so I kept changing her position even though she was irritable when moved in her sleep. This went on for almost two months and then came the incident which allowed me to throw my irrational and be my bitchy self again. The nanny pinched my daughter’s nipples in order to remove the ‘excess’ fluids which may have been ‘collected’ while in my womb. Did she really think new-borns have open ducts like new mothers do? I was flaring with anger and made sure the nanny was gone soon.
Then while you read pregnancy books, you are apprehensive about your child at night. Will she choke on her own puke? What if my hand covers her nose and suffocates her while I’m asleep? Many of us go through this thereby preventing ourselves from complete sleep. During the day, we are paranoid about everything, just because we have a tiny piece of flesh in our custody. Did that little thing get enough sleep? How can she tell if she’s got a headache? Is the fan breeze affecting her? She may get a rash if I don’t keep changing her diaper. What if she slips from someone’s hand while they carry her? I shouldn’t let anyone touch her! I was unnecessarily behaving like a snob then. Besides, I have kept away from friends because I ‘do not have the time’ to chit-chat and waste precious moments. Now I realize that I shouldn’t have.
Some of us are so hell bent on keeping our babies free from dust that we continue cleaning the house even after our helper is done with it because we believe that she will not clean the house like we would our own. She will not care about our baby’s allergies, if any. We are paying her to help, so we can concentrate on handling our baby, which is more than a handful already. Why don’t we relax and just do that?
Right from the day they are born, we wait for them to walk. But when they start walking, we are again obsessed about them falling or hurting themselves. What if they twist their little ankle while trying to walk? Some mothers keep cushions all around the house. My daughter fell so many times, that I wanted to do an MRI scan one of the days just to satisfy myself. Did we grow up by being unhurt in our younger days? Why do we want to make our children all delicate?
When they begin going to school, listening to all the oldies and reading all the newspaper articles, you are fearful because various things are running through your mind, besides what to cook for lunch, especially if your child is a girl. How will she cope up with other children or how many men are present in the school. Is she safe there? Will she be able to protect herself if she is attacked by someone? What if someone’s following me and then kidnaps her from her class? It goes on.
Amidst all this paranoia as parents, random thoughts make us wonder what will happen to us. Are we becoming vegetable brains sitting at home? Will we be able to cope up with the times and our children? Should we start going to work in order to meet and interact with people and increase our rusting vocabulary? But then the question arises on who will take care of our kids, like we do, if we work outside for ten hours a day? Some of us decide against working just so that we can handle our kids the way we want to and try and ignore some of our husbands making fun of our ‘lazy’ lives at home at every chance they get. Some of them need to get a dose of this ‘lazy’ life we live, don’t they?
I’ve realized that parental paranoia is something we all go through at some point, and for some of us, it is part of our lives. It will never stop. Family is, indeed, important but having a life outside your family is very important too. It’s necessary to, once in a while, go out and get some ‘ME’ time in order to free our minds so we avoid nagging, mostly our husbands, or being irritable all day. Being a housewife can be stressful, therefore, we need to have friends we can confide and complain to, just for kicks.
However strained we get, it is important to take care of ourselves because, I believe, if we are weary all the time, children find excuses not to hug an onion smelling mother, husbands are unattracted to the ‘maid look’ we may have all day and, in turn, we ignore all of it and wait patiently to hit the sack every single night. Years later, when we are old and neglected by everyone we did our duties for, we will wonder why we did not take time out for ourselves. Why we didn’t express ourselves? Why we did not do the things we wanted to do? Some women are living the life they want to inspite of having husbands, children and just twenty-four hours like us. Why didn’t we?
Our loved ones are important to us; likewise, our survival is equally important for them. We need to take care of them but of ourselves first.