Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Towards a guilt-free mommyhood.

Like a gadzillion other things I didn't know before I had my Puttachi, I had no idea that being a mother involved lugging around a huge sack of guilt. A totally unnecessary sack, I should add, which, even if you try to avoid, creeps stealthily up behind you and attaches itself to you.

Oh well, I've thrown a few things out of the sack from time to time, and a few things get added to them along the way - let me bring it all out into the open.

Things I've felt guilty about, but not any more:

- Eating before I feed Puttachi - There have been times when we've come back home late for lunch, and both Puttachi and I have been starving. I'd hasten to feed Puttachi first, fighting the rats in my stomach, and lose my patience and sanity on the way. S~ pointed out to me that two minutes of extra starvation won't hurt Puttachi, two minutes being the time I need to chomp on a banana or down a glass of milk - enough to give me energy to feed Puttachi with calm and patience. That was one of the best pieces of advice anybody has given me. I now eat guiltlessly even when Puttachi is hungry, because I know that I can be that much better a mother when not hungry.

- I'd feel guilty about wanting to read or go for a walk, or wish for some time of my own when Puttachi was demanding my attention. I'd attend to her, while every fibre of my being wanted to do otherwise. But now I realize that if I'm happy and content, I can give her the quality time she wants. So I plonk her down with a favourite toy, tell her not to disturb me, and lose myself in a book for some time - even five minutes - just five minutes can do the trick.

Actually, I tell this to all those working moms who feel guilty - think about it, which is better for your child? A happy mom they see only in the evenings, or a grouchy, grumpy, dissatisfied mom that they have to put up with for 24 hours? Do whatever makes the best person out of you - all for the happiness of the child.

- Making Puttachi miss naptimes or mealtimes, or feeding her with less than a balanced meal, because I need to do something else. One day without proteins will not malnourish her. One missed nap will just make her cranky. But it is worth it if I can feed her with something convenient, make her miss a nap and drag her along with me to go out, visit people or places and have fun. This attitude stood us in good stead when we had to do all the travelling around UK.

Guilt I've been working on removing:

- Not being the perfect mom - I have had to step out of the shadow of my perfect mom - who, in spite of soul-deadening problems, was always caring, patient and loving with us - who gave up her other interests for us, who tried to shape us into confident, independent women. I'm trying to tell myself that it is okay not to be like her, and that I can be a good mom in my own way.

- Pushing away the guilt I feel when I scold Puttachi or give her a little whack on her little bottom. Her crumpled-up face immediately tugs at my heartstrings and makes me feel miserable, but I have to force myself to remember that this is for the best - for making her a decent, thoughtful part of society.

- Not feeling guilty when I lose my patience with her. I am human, after all, in spite of the endless spring of patience I've discovered after I've become a mother.

But there are a few things in which I'm still neck-deep in guilt:

- The state of my house. It is just a functional home, with all necessary things. I keep the kitchen clean and hygeinic, but many other surfaces around the house that are reeling under dust cannot say the same thing. Stuff needing to be picked up, cupboards wanting cleaning, shelves needing organization - my house is all that and more. I've always dreamt of a pretty and clean house - but I'm only just able to manage running a sane house.

It is not like I don't have the time. But in that time, I'd rather read or write or spend time with Puttachi. These "non-essential" things come last in my priority list, and they just remain there. Last. Undone. I feel terribly guilty about this, especially because S~ likes a spic and span house, and so comes back home after a long day at work and tries putting it all in order.

- I feel guilty about putting Puttachi first all the time. I know it is natural, and I know that nobody carries any grudge against me for that. But yet, I feel guilty. That she takes priority over everybody else. That her well-being is more important to me than that of anybody else. I feel rather like a traitor to my other loved ones for feeling this way.

Things I've never been guilty about:

- Being a SAHM. I've never felt bad that I've been wasting my BE and MTech degrees, that my brains are rusting. It is probably because I've never been too happy being a working woman, and I enjoy this life. I have a thousand interests, more than I have time for, and my day is always full, without a dull moment. I do things I love and keep my brain in working order. And if anyone asks me, "Are you just a housewife/mom?", I tell him/her that I am much more than that - I am a -
Event manager
..... and so there. And if any of you is suffering from SAHM guilt, hit yourself on the head with this list.

So, Fight that Mommy Guilt!

[Written for this. ]


Raj said...

Haven't you heard the flight safety instructions?: In case of drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down automatically. If you are with a child, put on your mask first, before assisting her.

Shruthi said...

Raj, that is the exact example that S~ gave me when giving me that piece of advice! :)

Revati Upadhya said...

:D so insightful.. someday il come back here for all the tips :P

oh and i SO relate to the SAHM bit..i think it applies to people like me too, who are not mommies yet, but have chosen to stay at home, for the experience of doing things other than constantly keeping your brain active and occupied!

Bubble Catcher said...

I think all moms(specially the new ones like me)will nod along as they read this.Feeding the child before I eat is something I do all the time. This works when the son is hungry himself and wolfs down his food.But on days when he is in a fussy mood and takes an hour to down his meal, it makes sense to eat and then attend to him

Manish'sMom said...

You make profound sense as usual!

Dhanya said...

Good insight :) Will come back here when required :P
Btw ur list is really looong.. hats off to u :)

praneshachar said...

Its just wonderful and am sure lot of young mothers must read. always we think what we are doing is ok but just as you mentioned two minutes to have a banana and then feed the child makes lot of difference for the little one. Your not feeling guily about wasting your degree etc., is a wonderful piece of advise to people who are not able to decide on choosing, yes if you are otherwise ok there is nothing wrong and you can get back these wonderful days. Your child will get the best from the mother. In your case u r a model mother amma and great friend to you puttachi. what ever guilt u have mentioned are not all that big as compared to time you give to your puttachi. after all are human beings we too have our limitaions but if we manage small things well, if we do things differently it makes lot of difference and u and child will have great time.
shruthi its a wonderful to read your posts and in fact I keep reading them again and again.
keep posting

starry eyed said...

LOVED this post! Totally!

My house is dustier than yours I bet, like you I think my kids, hubby (and myself) are way more important than shining surfaces. and yeah, I eat first often myself. And I hear you on that 5-minute read and what it does for one's sanity!

And your advice for WOHMs is bang on. Happy mom = happy kid. Sacrifice is a no-no!

Anonymous said...

Hi S,
I regularly read your blog and it cheers me up greatly. Its very informative especially since I am a mom also to a 6 month daughter.Currently I am working and beginning to realize that I enjoy my work as much and would rather prefer to stay at home and take care of my baby. Somehow I lack the courage to do so..

Shruthi said...

Thank you, everybody!

Anon, perhaps you should take a break for a month or two, and then hopefully you'll know for sure what you really want.
I'm sure you'll make the right decision. All the best.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm so relieved to know that you too scold and whack your kid. I feel bad all the time thinking I'm the worst mother in the whole world when I have had to discpline my daughter. Your posts always talks about good things revolving your child that used to make me think I'm the only one having problems. Thanks a ton for writing this post.


Mama - Mia said...

100% sense! :)

esp liked the one missing nap times and food! have suffered many a paranoid friends who are crazy about neither happening even when out on trips etc!



Lively said...

Scare me out of my mind. OMG! So much doing all the time and all for the baby and you get what? All this guilt! I know it is that way for everybody and good that you're trying to get out of most of them.
Needs a lot of preparation and setting of priorities before having baby, or does it?
The baby just simply becomes number one priority, right? :P

sandhya said...

Just read over at Starry's blog that you are one of the winners of this contest. I have never been to your blog, but wanted to read it ASAP.
I loved your post. It feels just as though you were echoing my thoughts. I am and do all those things you do too. I would rather do a bit of reading or writing in my spare time, and on most days my house is like a war zone because I have done just the bare essentials. And I am a SAHM too, inspite of having done my M.B.B.S., and M.D. Thanks for making me feel not so strange!

Arundhati said...

Came over from starry's blog, read there that you are one of the winners. Congrats!

Found myself nodding along as I read your post. Very well thought out and written.

Following you so I'll be back for more :) Looking fwd to reading older posts too

R's Mom said...

Hey came over here from Starry's blog..congrats on the win..and what a wonderful post..thank you for putting all this down..about eating first, giving that 5 minutes to myself..and of course spanking the kiddo...I always feel guilty about all this....its good to know that there are other moms who do the same :)

Indian Bazaars said...

Nice and thought-provoking!

RS said...

Hello! I am a new mom now and being a working woman I do feel the guilt of not spending enough time with my son. But after your Q here - "Happy mom for a few hours or a grouchy one for 24hrs"? - I think I got my answer :-D

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