By Sujata Rajpal
Secure your own mask first before helping others. Two decades ago, when for the first time I heard this safety instruction live in the airplane, I was a newly married girl travelling to Alps with my brand new husband. How ridiculous! Be selfish. Think about yourself first. Is this what they want to convey to the society? I elbowed my better half.
All my life, I was fed on the diet of putting others before self. Hindi movies and elderly aunties made sure that such values were instilled and ingrained fully. The sole purpose of a woman’s life is to serve others. Give, give, give until your body is squeezed of all energy. The more you give, the more you get, that’s what the motto of your life is. Only then, your life is worth it and not before. Right? Wrong. Motherhood is a choice and not a sacrifice — echoes one of the latest ads.
Like everything else in life, motherhood too is evolving. A mother is someone who has been assigned by God with the job to take care of the physical and emotional needs of her children but she is no longer contented just being a mother and a wife. She wants more from life. Give me more, is the latest buzz word. Juggling, hustling, multi-tasking is not an issue, she is tuned for that.
You don’t need to wear the badge of sacrifice on your sleeve like a solitaire on your finger. Women love to be sacrificing queens. Sacrificing in small and big ways for children gives them a strange sense of pleasure, a contentment that their lives have been worth it. Alas! Sacrificing queen leads to a checkmate only in the game of chess. In real life, it leads to distress and disaster. Putting yourself before others sometimes is not selfish, it is taking care of yourself.
A mother is an individual first and a mother later. She needs to first take care of her own health and happiness to be at the service of her children. Come to think of it, how will a tired and exhausted mother look after her children? Eating before your kids eat doesn’t certify you as a bad mother. You can still be an ideal mother even if you decide to eat before them. And wellbeing is not only restricted to physical needs but also emotional. Recharge, do not break down.
Mothers’ distress levels are directly proportional to kids’ mental health. No one wants a grumpy mom? If you are emotionally burnt-out then there is no way you can sit and listen to the crises in your children’s lives. Can a hungry man fill others’ stomach? It is a survival need like the oxygen mask in the times of low pressure.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, on May 9, 1914, signed a proclamation following untiring efforts by Anna Marie Jarvis. The United States, then declared the second Sunday of May a national holiday “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Anna Marie Jarvis, seen as founder of Mother’s Day, was the daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, a social activist who organised events called Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to reduce infant mortality. At the events doctors were invited to hold discussions with mothers on how to keep their children healthy and educate them with latest practices of hygiene and sanitation.
Mothers too can have likes and dislikes. Take a mother to a restaurant and ask her what will she like to eat? The typical answer will be ‘I will eat whatever everyone is eating.’ Most women even in today’s progressive world have never thought about their own desires. You don’t need to give up your dreams for the sake of your children. Make yourself a priority.
Mothers are so busy doing it all that they forget the most important person in their lives — THEMSELVES. Investing time, money and energy in your children is important but in the process, do not forget that time and resources spent on the gratification of your own desires is not a waste. Social work, get-togethers, book clubs, meeting friends, a full time or part time job, gym, yoga, a hobby class, reading, even just ‘Me Time’ are all justified.
Adjust. Accommodate. Adapt. These words are for everyone in the family and not only for the mother. You are not born to be at the beck and call of your family all the time. The sky is not going to fall down if you could not cook a three-course meal one day because you did not feel like it. You need not die of guilt if once in a while you ask your husband, a neighbour or a relative to baby sit your child while you go for a movie with a friend.
In today’s times, it is even more important to redefine motherhood because very soon, the sooner than you can imagine, your children will fly the nest. When they leave the nest, it affects the mother the most, as they had always been the nucleus of her very being.
Therefore, if you have never thought about yourself as a separate entity, it is bound to create a vacuum in your life leaving you wounded and empty. Mothers, do take care of yourself — your health as well as your happiness. Only a healthy and happy mother can enrich the life of her children. If Mommy is happy, the entire house is happy as the old adage goes. Happy Mother’s Day!