To The Phoenix in You

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.

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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.

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13 comments on “To The Phoenix in You

    • We kind of undergo a metamorphosis as we become mothers, don’t we? Our lives change altogether, and it takes some time to get used to that change. But more often than not, the change is always for the better, and the toils do yield fruit.

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  1. I believe this is my first time visiting your blog, and what a deep and insightful post into the mind of a young mother this is! I think women, especially married women and mothers are expected to adhere to a certain image – that of a self-sacrificing angel. When a woman doesn’t adhere to that set image or stereotype, the visual is jarring, incongruent. I don’t know why that is so – I should think there ought to be as many images as there are women because each one is unique in her own way, with her own dreams, aspirations and realities.

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    • Most women go through this phase Rickie, they have been for centuries. Just that, the women before our generations never acknowledged this, for the fear of being lambasted as irresponsible. Even now, not many are able to accept their emotions and learn to handle them appropriately, fearing guilt and disapproval from people around them.

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  2. You know what Yamini, when I see my wife going overboard with these mommy, wifey and homemaker responsibilities, I plan a day where the lil girl is taken care of me completely for one full day and I tell my wife to do whatever she wants. Given that she anyways is not too much of a social person, she does pull out time to do her own thing at home and enjoys herself for most part of the day. We do this probably once in two weeks or so. Maybe you can request your husband for some support and am sure he will oblige once in a while so that you can rediscover yourself.

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    • My husband has been my biggest supporter through all this Jairam. He obliges not once in a while, but almost all days. In fact, when I wrote this piece about an year ago, he used to cook on most days since the kid would not allow me to get up from his side. As I was saying to Rickie, this is a phase all women pass through. It’s a phase of great metamorphosis, and it takes time getting used to. We all go through it and come out of it wiser and happier.

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  3. The word in the reply above is very apt – Metamorphosis. For it is not mere change but a remaking of a person and it can be very traumatic while it happens. (Oh! Btw, there is a bit of that for men as well who, after marriage, do need to take on responsibilities though they are, to now, spared the running after the kid all day business 🙂 Not me – I ducked the responsibility by staying a bachelor 🙂 )

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    • Oh yes, Suresh! Men face an equally huge upheaval as well, what with having to figure out what goes on in the missus’s mind and weaving their lives around it 🙂 And some take on the running after the kid business too. Quite a feat! 🙂

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  4. An opt article on Ladies’day the 19th Nov. This is what swamy wants to women to be. Sairam. I am proud of you and I think I achieved to some extent to the values of swami through you. Hope you will also get this realiasation one day.

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  5. Ahhhh, your story has brought a smile to my face 🙂 When my first child was born, I remember someone looking at him and saying “how precious, what on earth did you do before him?”. I replied “slept!” And I meant it! Recently, my sister (older by 6 years) visited us from up north. We got into a discussion about children (she doesn’t have any) and I made the remark “when you have children, your life is just sort of put on the back burner. Everything you do, you do with your children in mind”. She couldn’t believe this, nor could she understand what I was trying to explain. But, it is true. Once you are married and have children, it seems that all that you do is focused on your spouse and children. God truly made women with strength and endurance! I can remember feeling that I couldn’t make it another minute, but from out of nowhere came the strength I needed to finish that day! Would I ever trade it for my ‘single’ life? Absolutely NOT! My life has been blessed in so many ways, as it sounds like yours has been as well. I really loved your post! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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    • Thank you for writing in mhudakcollins. How similar our stories are, even though we are continents apart! And as you said, despite all the blues, I would never trade this life for anything else. Cheers to us! 🙂

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    • Sterling one, Yamini. Well, Canada is a world apart. Here we have stay-at-home Dads who do everything except nurse. Leaving profession to take care of kids is a sacrifice that women here seldom make. They’ll be there at home maybe the few months of their parental leaves that are mandatory for employers here. Then the day-cares or grand parents take over. 🙂

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