Mothering is not an easy job. The ups and downs in the journey can get the better of anyone. You need to be strong yet soft, polite yet firm, accepting while disciplining- all at the same time.
So if you have had thoughts of leaving it all and running off to the Himalayas at some point or the other, you are not the only one!
Mothering sure is overwhelming!
Parenting is getting more complex in the modern society with the internet, social media and youtube posing as potential threats to our childrens’ health. However there is another change in the modern society that is influencing and changing parenting without being very obvious upfront.
Couples nowadays have the luxury and buying capacity to buy many conveniences and luxuries to make their parenting journey smoother, easier and less manic. Be it in the form of gadgets and equipment or keeping 3 extra maids at home, many urban couples can afford these. Then there are daycares, activity classes and what not to help your child get through the day.
While it is nice that the Indian middle class is becoming financially stronger, how beneficial is it in terms of parenting is another debate.
To put things in an easy (and unoffending) version let me say that it sure is great to get some time off from the kids in a day to unwind and relax. Physical gadgets allow your kid some entertainment without having you to be involved directly. The dedicated nanny plays and feeds your kid all day because thats all she is paid for! The activity classes again give your child some great exposure and time-off from the routine while you get some time alone too.
What we are forgetting, however, is these luxuries that we can easily afford now are meant to make our life easier as a mom and NOT to substitute us as moms.
Unfortunately these luxuries are doing just that- replacing mothers in the lives of the kids!
Come summer break and we are frantically looking for camps to put our kids in. The logic? Its better the kid does something constructive with her time than watch Youtube all day! But the (ugly) and unsaid reality? We don’t know what to do with our kids if they are left to us for the entire 24 hrs! And no please don’t think I am blaming you. I am equally guilty as charged!
We are always on the look-out for some back-up to take care of our kids- grand parents or nannies. The logic? So that the kid is not entirely dependent on you and can be taken care of incase you need to step out of the house- for work or for leisure. The ugly truth? The minute we do land such a nanny, occasional help slowly leads to daily bathing, feeding, care-taking being done by her.
The huge screen time debate is not without reason. My own daughter spends more than an hour everyday on youtube and I must say I am not proud of it. How does it all start? The logic? All her friends do it so we can’t absolutely isolate her and hell, there are some great videos on youtube that are educational. The ugly truth? When we are tired or don’t have time, we just hand over the iPad to the baby so that she remains busy for an hour without bothering us!
No there is nothing wrong in keeping nannies, enrolling your kid in some activity class or letting her have her screen time. But the point we are loosing touch with is that these are meant just for those times when we are really not upto it. Those rare times when we are too exhausted to carry on as a mom for a second longer. But what these luxuries have become are parasites that are slowly eating away into the traditional set-up of mothering.
We, as mothers, are using these luxuries so that we have to mother less each day.
Like it or not, we are allowing ourselves to be substituted in the lives of our kids! And how can that have any good outcome?
It is very tempting. I know it because I have been there. I have given into the temptation of the clean nice loving nanny feeding my kid all her meals so that I can watch TV (or write my blog on mothering!! Ironical, right?)
It is natural to want to give in and sit and relax if there is someone willing to take on our job. We tell ourselves that we deserve this break.
Mothering is an active job. It involves giving your child lot of time, physical contact and attention. The breaks you can and should afford are minimal. Then why are we all looking for an easy way out?
We knew it was going to be tough, right?
We need to be very careful to keep a check on whether these luxuries are taking over some of our job as mom or are they taking over our role as mom? And we need to keep this balance in control so that we don’t end up unknowingly substituting ourselves in the lives of our kids.
(This article first appeared on http://www.mycity4kids.com on 14th July 2016)