What ‘lies’ beneath : The ‘truth’ about Motherhood.

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Mother's Day
Source : Mark Colomb, Wikimedia Commons

Every second day is a day these days. Starting from Women’s Day to Valentine’s Day to Nutella and Samosa day (check it out, it IS a thing!). Most people are fed up with these mushy-mush days that keep asking us to keep our credit card details and retirement funds handy all year long! However, there is certainly one day among all these days that is spared all that chagrin. Mother’s Day somehow escapes the wrath of all the people who question the sense in having a ‘day’ to celebrate any human relationship that should technically warrant year round celebrating. So what makes Motherhood so special?

The thing is that, there is certainly something about mothers and motherhood that warrants taking a day out to pause and be grateful about. Motherhood is not easy. And it is not something that comes without a huge, huge range of upheavals – whoever the mother happens to be. And all ye fathers : don’t even start comparing! Becoming a mother takes an irreversible toll on the mother’s body, mind and soul. And once you cross that threshold, you can never ever be the same again.

Body

The first very obvious change that happens every time a baby comes into the world is in the mother’s body. Fit or fat, dark or fair, republican or democrat, north indian or south indian, married or unmarried, gay or straight, real or surrogate…motherhood leaves a mark on the body of the woman carrying the baby. And these are not stretch marks and a permanent belly pouch that we are talking about. These are bodily changes that effect everything from the nervous to the muscular system. There is no greater bodily challenge that you can throw at a woman than her pregnancy.

Added to this is the increasingly difficult task of getting pregnant in the first place! Ask women who have been through harrowing cycles of IVF or PCOD medication. Even a so-called normal pregnancy has more than its share of pokes and prods and other fascinating indignities that needs to be borne, all in the name of the ‘wonderful’ deed of helping grow a whole new human being inside oneself.

And the toll of having a child does not end with the birth of the child either. No siree!! Starting from sleep deprivation in the early years to decreasing bone marrow densities in the latter ones – the cost of motherhood reflects on the human body for a lifetime.

Mind

Fascinatingly enough, not much is spoken about the way motherhood effects the working of a woman’s mind.Think about it. If pregnancy and its associated hormones were not brain wringers enough, there is the lifelong invisible umbilical chord of nurturing that ties a mother to each of her children. Even if modern day fatherhood is getting more and more involved in the entire act of parenting – the fact remains that the mother remains the last bastion of parental guilt and shouldering parental responsibility.

Every decision :big or small has to go through a torturous flowchart of ‘if-then-else what’ in every mothers’ mind. Even without getting into the working/non-working debate at all, one can very safely state that once a woman becomes a mother, her mind is in a constant churn of snapping synapses – all thanks to her progeny. The positive side of this extra push to mental powers is of course that mothers end up evolving into quicker and smarter decision makers 😉 (Related aside : hello corporates – more reason why you need to get more mothers back into the workforce!)

Soul

This is of course the aspect of motherhood that is most glorified and spoken about. Oh, but for the divine soul of a mother what ruins would the world be in! Truth. But then some lies. Not every woman who ends up becoming a mother is maternal. The love of a mother is often hailed as the supremest form of love between two human beings. But this love is not automatic and cannot be blindly attributed to every woman who ends up bearing or even raising a child.

Indeed the biggest burden that a mother must bear – is the friggin’ halo around motherhood. Despite the above mentioned points about the long lasting and definitive changes that becoming a mother wrecks on a woman’s body  and mind – the truth remains that motherhood does not equal sainthood. Or any kind of divinity.

On the contrary, it is a very physical and visceral everyday experience that is supposed to be swaddled with the hazy light of joy and perpetual love. Much like swaddling a newborn with the softest of blankies and smiling through the postpartum pains for a ‘happily ever after’ photograph.  This is not to say that motherhood is without its moments of pure love and joy – it is just to say that like any other human relationship – it is wrought with testing times and even times of anything but love!

Motherhood remains one of the most fascinating and challenging roles in any woman’s life. And the truth is that much of most adults’ childhood memories comprises of their relationship with their mother. Little wonder then that Mother’s Day is probably the least reviled of the ‘Lets have a day’ Days. And to all the mothers out there reading this – wishing you all a very happy Day – today and every day of your journey as a mother.

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