The year was 2008. I was chatting with my teammate, the only other girl in the team. She was married and recently had donned the avatar of a mommy. I was single and increasingly becoming the cause of my parents’ depression for they were not able to find a suitable ‘suitor’ for me. That’s another story altogether. Anyway, my friend was ranting about her domestic problems, and I was, for most part, trying to be a sympathetic listener. She was ruing the fact that life after marriage doesn’t leave too much space for things like romance, individual space etc. I looked at her incredulously and asked, “Why should these things disappear from someone’s life after marriage?” For which she replied, “Well, as the responsibilities on you mount, you tend to find lesser and lesser time for yourself.” I shook my head in disbelief and retorted, “Why, though I am single, I still take up responsibilities in my parental home. I am still accountable to them. But that doesn’t make me any less happy. And I am sure the same will be the case after marriage too.” I was pretty sure she was exaggerating. For her part, my friend only smiled a knowing smile and said, “You will not understand now. When you get married and get a family of your own, then you will realize.”
I remember this particular exchange because I had become exasperated with a couple of my girl friends saying the same thing to me, “You will not understand now.” I could not comprehend then what was it that I was not understanding and how could life be different after marriage. Now, three and a half years into marital life, of which two and a half as a mother, I am beginning to see what my friend meant.
Life has changed so drastically after marriage and motherhood that I could not have imagined it in the wildest of my dreams. I sometimes look at my pictures from before marriage, trekking with my friends, dining out with colleagues, and feel as if they were all in some previous birth. Like I said on one of my moody days to my husband, I feel like I am just a shadow of my previous self.
I had a lucrative career which I gave up for the sake of my son. Now, sitting at home, writing this and that when I am able to snatch time in between taking care of him and the domestic chores, I sometimes feel cut out from the world. I have lost touch with most of my old friends, except for the occasional hi, how are you, on Facebook or G Chat. Most of my time gets consumed in running behind my kiddo to get him to eat, bathe or do potty. Sometimes the only things that seem to occupy my mind are the menu for the next day, the provisions to be bought, or the chores to be completed. I think longingly about visiting the parlor, but procrastinate as something of higher priority keeps popping up.
At such times, I remember how it used to be before marriage, and let out a sigh. I am now able to see what my friend meant when she talked about family responsibilities. Before marriage, I did take up responsibilities at home, but I was essentially free to do things for myself. I could go and watch a movie anytime I liked, hang out with friends whenever I liked, and splurge on myself whenever I felt like it. Now, however, a lot of pre-conditions have to be handled before I can do any of that. Watching a movie is completely ruled out unless there is someone at home who can take care of kiddo or with whom kiddo will comfortably spend time. I have not met my friends, in like eons. I have made new friends though, but they are mostly other mommies and the only conversation that goes on between us is mommy-talk. And splurging, well the budget always looms ominously over the head!
Some days my kiddo sticks to me like glue. He throws tantrums for every small thing. Every single task in taking care of him becomes a mountainous effort. On such days, I feel as if someone has squeezed all the juice out of me. Sometimes tears well up in my eyes due to self sympathy. I am filled with self doubt and zero motivation. On such days my friend’s face comes to my mind. She, and many other women like us, would also have felt so drained out and exhausted. Still, we keep going on and on. We squeeze out motivation from nowhere, and march ahead with dogged determination to make the lives of those who love us comfortable.
I remember my mother, who, for nearly twenty to twenty-five years, did everything for us, every single day. Despite the blues she might have felt, the ups and downs of her mood. Rain or shine, every single morning she would get up to cook, clean, get us ready and rush to her work. She worked tirelessly from morning to night. I have always wished to be like her, but only now, when I am actually doing it, do I realize what a Herculean task she was doing. And to be doing it non-stop for twenty-five years! I love you mom!
Maybe, that is why God chose women to be mothers. For women have that physical and mental stamina to go through all this and still smile. They have the ability to give up their individual desires for the ones they love, make sacrifices which most men are reluctant to make. He thought us as capable, that is why He chose us for this important task. Maybe, it is this inner strength that makes me cuddle up to my son no matter how difficult he has been, and praise him when he helps me clear the mess he created during his tantrums. I laud myself for this strength, bring a confident smile on my face, and embrace my responsibilities with happiness.
This post first appeared in Parentous, in March, 2013.