I guess this blog over the last few months has focused mostly on parenting. It was not meant to be that way, but parenting is a consuming experience, and over the last one year, most of the significant experiences in my life have come as a parent.
As I explained in this blog, in the initial months, the only thing about parenting which stuck me was how consuming and exhausting it was. I was propably stating an unpopular view at that time, but I wanted to legitimize the fact that women had the right to feel exhausted about being mothers. Then, as Migu started growing up, the exhaustion remained, but she also developed her own personality and there were many things to wonder at, nay marvel at.
Recently, I have read a few posts on parenting, which set me thinking more on this. These include the following articles (http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/features/blink/stop-the-lies-about-parenting/article5709875.ece/) and its counterview (http://www.themomviews.com/an-open-letter-to-the-lady-lying-about-parenting/) as well as this FB post from my friend where she wondered why when every important function in life (driving, practicing a profession etc) required a license, parenting never did. What this post and the articles highlighted to me was the fact that parenting remained highly romanticized and also given a lot of importance. Yes, parenting has a significant influence in your life. But as my husband once paraphrased J K Rowling, there is an expiry date to the blame you attach to your parents for the screw ups in your life. I think my response to my friends post would be “asking for parents to prove their capacity for parenting before becoming parents, is a bit like asking an unborn child to prove that it is worthy of life. Just like life becomes worthy over the course of living, we grow as parents over the course of parenting. And just like we make mistakes and are given second chances in life, we ought to be given them as parents as well.
Coming up to the two articles on parenting, I felt that though they were written as view and counterview, they both carried very different truths. The first author is right, parenting is exhausting and not necessarily blissful (or probably not always blissful). But more than parenting itself, perhaps the target of her ire was the romanticizing of parenting, specially of motherhood. Despite the women of today having many more opportunities and options than they ever did, there is still social pressure on them to become mothers, and also wax eloquent about the bliss of motherhood. But, hey, as a woman, I can choose to be a mother, I can choose not to be a mother, I can choose to be a mother and crib about my choice, and still not affect my child’s development or mar her psyche irreparably.
What I really appreciate about the second article (the counterview so to say, although it is much more than that) is that the write has acknowledged motherhood to be difficult, but has also spoken of the opportunities it provides. And the opportunities are for growing yourself, not just in helping a child grow. Motherhood can be that stage in life, where you genuinely introspect on your priorities and choices. It can give you a space to explore avenues and interests which you have otherwise not considered. I have known women start their Ph Ds when they are pregnant or just after delivering a child, of women taking on and completing extremely challenging work assignments and delivering on them during this period. Sometimes, it gives you the break which is needed from the hurly burly of professional life, and allows you to pursue alternate interests. For myself, although I have been into yoga a couple of years before Migu came, it is only in the last year that yoga is taking on a different meaning in my life. At some level, it has become a genuine part of my life and of late I have even considered giving up on the current job I hold and pursuing yoga more seriously, to probably become a yoga instructor or something. It is not just me. I have known mothers starting to learn dance or rediscovering dance when they take their kids to dance class and many dance classes are not operating mothers batches 🙂 My husband is waiting for the time when Migu can develop her own interests and go to classes, because he feels that as a child he was largly focused on his studies and missed an opportunity to be multi-dimensional and he wants to join whatever class Migu does, so that he can explore other dimensions in himself.
I guess the challenge of parenting, which makes it more difficult that slogging over a job is probably that there is another human being involved and you always have to put this other human being first, at least in the initial years. So you can never really estimate on a day to day basis whether the day is going to be challenging or rewarding and in what proportion these two are going to be mixed.