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EMBRACING MOTHERHOOD – PART II


In my previous article, “Embracing Motherhood – Part I,” I discussed how I tried to navigate motherhood along with my mental health challenges during the first six months of my daughter, Nithya, being born.


Things have changed tremendously since then; she is a spirited toddler with a mind and voice of her own (yes, already :-)). My mental health has also gone through its fair share of ups and downs in the last one and a half years. Nonetheless, I would say I am surviving, floating on some days and swimming confidently on others. I write this article from a place where I want other mothers who are struggling with motherhood and their mental health issues to know that they are not alone and that one moment at a time, one task at a time, and one day at a time, we can and will be able to embrace this journey. 


The Rough Days


On the rough days, I just lie on my bed with so much guilt for not being there for Nithya. The guilt consumes me so much that I get restless and anxious. This happened as recently as yesterday… I reached out to a few mothers’ communities I am part of and asked for help. I was moved by the messages and support I received from strangers in the same boat. The willingness and compassion to lend your ears and shoulders to another mother is heartwarming and touching. I am very grateful for their support. 


Each person has a support system and mechanisms for moving on in this journey. The common thread I noticed is to always ask for help! This reminds me of Charlie Mackesy’s quote from the book, The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse. “What is the bravest things you’ve ever said, asked the boy.. “Help” said the horse”


Unless we reach out, you will never know how others’ experiences and learnings can help you. Seeking help has always helped me in one way or the other. It may be when I am in the trenches, but I seek out my family, friends, and even strangers through my means.


Showing vulnerability or seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and the will to never give up. 



The Never-Ending Guilt 


As I mentioned in the previous section above, I feel really guilty on my bad days. The guilt then builds up to anxiety and makes me completely non-functional. While Instagram is popularly described as a thief of time, I beg to differ. Some of the accounts curated by mothers have helped me keep going. One such account is “undefeated. Moms”. There was a post in that account that really resonated with me. “My daughter scanned the room looking for me. When she saw me her face lit up the room. She wasn’t looking for the perfect parent. She was looking for her mom. Don’t forget the power of simply being their mom.”


On the days I can navigate my guilt, I remind myself that Nithya wants a mom, not a perfect one. I gather myself to sit next to her and hug her, and I know she values that a lot. But there are days when I cannot help but feel how I have failed as a mother by not being there for her. I guess the bad days will continue to be there. I just need to keep reminding myself that she is not seeking perfection but just love and affection. 


The Crippling Anxiety


I face high levels of anxiety in my parenting role. The anxiety and overwhelming feeling make me withdraw from her as I feel I will not be able to do what I expect from myself. My therapist and husband often remind me that it is my unreasonable expectations of how a mother should be and how I should parent her that bring about this anxiety. 


I often see this parenting journey as all or nothing, i.e., either I do my best as I expect or don’t, as I fear I will fail. I am trying to unlearn this every day. I think having some expectations of yourself is good, but I am trying to learn that it is a relationship with another human being who has their needs and wants and, as I said, a clear mind of their own. So, some days, it may be a cakewalk, and some days, it will be a struggle. This burden of expectations makes it very overwhelming for me. Some of these expectations are a construct of our society, and some are internal. 


It is not possible to not have any expectations as a mother. I would be lying to myself if I wrote that. The most important thing is to listen to your expectations and balance them with the needs of the child. Some days, it is okay to let go and let them have their way, and some days, we need to draw our boundaries and balance the expectations. 


Beyond being a Mother


 One thing that keeps me afloat is that I often remind myself that I have other roles to play. While I have consciously paused my career for now, I know that beyond my career, I have various roles to play, such as a friend, a sister, a daughter, a mental health advocate, etc. That also helps me get less overwhelmed at times. The routine of self-care and self-love helps me keep my sanity in check. 


The reminder that I have other roles to play, at some level, helps me reduce my unreasonable expectations of myself. 


I would honestly admit that pausing the career has given me a lot of self-doubt and caused my mind to wander to unwanted territories. But then I remind myself that this pause is not for motherhood but for myself so I don’t burn out in this journey. 


This too, shall pass.


I have heard that managing a toddler is one of the most challenging phases as they shape their individuality and assert their independence. I have also received a lot of counsel that this phase too, shall pass, and things will get easier. 


As I write this, I really hope that things get easy, but at the same time, I want to enjoy every phase of my journey. I know that is an ideal scenario and impossible in all cases. But I want to remind myself and the mothers struggling with mental health issues along with motherhood that let us not seek perfection but be kind and compassionate to ourselves. Being present for your kid in any way is better than feeling guilty that you are not perfect. They will be happy they have their mother and are not looking for an ideal mom.



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Since my career pause in 2017, I have not settled professionally. For the last seven years, there have been multiple starts and stops. Those are mainly due to the nature of the work not suiting my men

2 Comments


Rashmi S
Rashmi S
Mar 15

Beautifully said!! How we struggle within our societal construct to live upto our own expectations.. but sometimes it's better to let go and be ourselves :D

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Ankita Murali
Ankita Murali
Mar 15

More power to you for being so candid and vocal!

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