Posted in Motherhood, Parenting

The Amazing Race

I can’t believe how many articles there are out there today about being a mother.

I mean one would think that being a mother should come naturally, something that is born primordially into every woman’s instinct.

I never thought much on how difficult or challenging it is to be a mother because my mother is always around. She gave up her job to take care of me and my sisters so the matriarchal figure in our family is really strong without anyone questioning my mother’s role as a housewife.

Housewife.

That’s a word you hardly hear anyone using anymore.

Now we “modern moms” prefer the term SAHM – Stay At Home Mom.

Housewife makes us feel, well, like a drab.

Homemaker is okay. Even house mommy is all right but I don’t think I hear the word housewife as often as I did when I was little.

So what is it really about mothers that gets everyone talking, debating even fighting over about?

To be honest, I don’t think there’s a better time to become a mother than now.

With all the online references about getting pregnant, what to do while you’re pregnant, what not to do if you’re pregnant and once, I even found an article on what to do if you go into labor and you are alone. There’s actually a step-by-step guide on how to deliver your baby if you’re on your own. I mean, how much more informative can you get? I don’t think they share that much during my mother’s time.

And one thing that I am grateful for (and millions other mothers, I’m sure) is the ever so abundant reference and information on babies and how to take care of them.

Did you know that there are 5 different ways to burp a baby? Do you know you can make your own ear drops to cure swimmer’s ears? Do you know you can tell how healthy is your baby’s bowel from the color of his poo?

Who knew right?

I run a Facebook group for new mothers. I call it Tell Me Mommy.

It has a steady number of members with new ones every other week and discuss about everything a mother goes through – housework, baby’s behavior (or misbehavior), recipes on what to cook and money saving home tips, among others, really.

Today a member posted something that made me think of my roles as a mother – the one that used to have a career (let’s call her the FTWM – Full Time Working Mom) and the one now, the one that doesn’t have a professional job but is working nevertheless (for the sake of modern term, let’s call her the SAHM).

I am very glad to say that I have experiences in both roles to actually know what I’m talking about. On top of that, having had post-partum depression (PPD) after the birth of my first son, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that I feel the authority in writing this post tonight.

In a gist, a member who has recently given up her career to become a SAHM feels overwhelmed with what she has to do and vented out by saying that she is envious of SAHM who has nothing else to do but to solely take care of their kids because all other aspect of motherhood is taken care by someone else ie other family members or a maid.

Another member came back to say that how would this mother know that living with other family members (ie in-laws or parents) will make things easier for the mother? Living with other family members, especially in-laws, will probably make things tougher because you would have to comply and tolerate childbearing methods from the elders that you may not agree with.

So they went back and forth justifying what the other has to say since one is a SAHM while the other is FTWM. Even though they are not rude to each other, I can see it was a pretty heated discourse.

What ticked me about the conversation is that how amazing the role of mother is and can be viewed differently even among mothers themselves.

You would think that mothers naturally come together and stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to anything motherhood.

But being a mother myself now, I can see how sometimes the claws can come out and vicious holier-than-thou behavior surfaces when another mother talks about something that doesn’t agree with what the other mother believes.

For me, if there is one group of people who can afford to be holier-than-thou, it is mothers. And if there is one group of people who shouldn’t be holier-than-thou, it is mothers.

I can understand why mothers can get defensive very easily.

We slave ourselves when no one else seems to care. Or even if someone does, it’s so damn hard sometimes to get acknowledged. A nice gesture of thank you or a hug wouldn’t hurt us but I think we mothers can count how many times we get compliments from those that matters to us on one hand and still have fingers left.

And it’s not like we do things because we want compliments but it’s nice to know that what we do is really appreciated.

Then there’s the case of the working mothers.

When I first had a baby and was going through PPD, I wanted nothing but to get away from my son and go back to work. It was that one place where I can feel where the world is for once about me.

Everyone was fussing about the baby and giving me advice from how to comb his hair right down to the color of his scrotum. It was totally overwhelming and it was made worse when Mohen and I sort of drifted apart after our son was born. So being at work allowed me to have a moment when I can center myself and concentrate on what I was really good at because I was feeling useless as a mother.

I took quite some time to get used to my son and when I did, I realized what I missed.

I tried as much as I can to compensate the loss I suffered watching him grow because I was concentrating too much on myself when I was supposed to look after this small helpless creature.

That was the time I felt the true pang of being a FTWM.

I wake up everyday, even weekends, at 6.30am to get all the housework done before my son wakes up. Then when he does, I will concentrate on him, bathing, feeding, reading and letting him have his playtime.

Then there was meals to cook and more housework even though I already tried to do as much as I can when I woke up but no matter how early I wake up, it always seem that I was running out of time.

I can’t tell you how many times I was almost late to work because the ironic thing about being a mother is, the more you rush, the more your baby refused to cooperate with you.

And for the first time I know the apprehensive feeling of leaving your kids with someone else while you’re at work.

True enough that I did have my own time at the office where I get to realize my full potential at something else other than motherhood but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about my son and how the babysitter is looking after him.

When work was taking over me because I got promoted and I didn’t get to see my son on days end, I decided to resign.

I thought I would have more time and be more relaxed now that I will be a full time SAHM.

Boy, was I wrong (see my other post on staying at home: SAHM – Sanity and Humor Mandatory).

I knew housework like I never knew it before.

All of a sudden there were thousands of things to do. I didn’t get it the first few weeks I was adjusting to being an SAHM.

I figured now that I am at home, I will be less rushed and able to do things on my own time.

In a sense, it is true.

But I found myself waking up, albeit a little late, at 7.30am, and being on my feet up until it was 10pm. I have no idea what it was that made me work around the clock but it seems there is always something to do and everything seems to happen simultaneously (see post Sometimes I Could Just).

All of a sudden I have to cook while my son is calling for a snack, I have to load the laundry while my daughter needs a change, I have to iron Mohen’s shirt when the kids are fighting over a toy.

It was crazy.

So that was what made me realize how mothers can get offended when one mother says the other mother has it easy compared to her.

Because no matter which mother you are – the FTWM, the SAHM, the WAHM (work at home moms), the soccer mom, the yelling mom, the Tigger mom, the tiger mom – it is not easy.

And all mothers want to be perfect.

Even though we tried to live with our flaws and accept the limitation of our maternal abilities, we secretly want to be the best and at times, we secretly wish we are better than other mothers we know, either personally or mutually.

I admit, there are some mothers who really have it easy. I personally know someone whose responsibility is to just literally give birth. Everything else is done by someone else. Her mother cooks every meal, her father bought her a house and a car, she has a maid who waits on her son’s hands and feet, she has a driver to drive her around for her salon appointment or manicure session.

And she doesn’t work.

Most mothers would chop off her arm just to have a life like that but to be frank, I think we wouldn’t want that everyday. Maybe once in a while is great. And by once in a while I do mean about once a month where we get to be pampered and spoiled rotten.

Mothers envy the lax lifestyle of some mothers but we wouldn’t trade our enslaved lives with other mothers.

We really are one amazing race.

That’s right.

We are a breed of our own that drives ourselves crazy with our kids pushing our sanity to its very brink and yet we do it day in day out. We rushed from the kitchen to the living room, juggling bottles and feeding bowls while telling our toddler to stop jumping on the couch, we sped from the house to the daycare, with our mind already at the meeting that will start in half an hour, we jumped from the car right into the kitchen to prepare dinner in our business suit still on.

It’s a wonder how we don’t burn out in half the time we’re supposed to live.

And the great thing is, we get to do this over and over again even until our kids are 30.

So when mothers get a little tensed or overwhelmed and started venting off steam and sounding judgmental and one mother gets offended and lashed back, I don’t blame them at all.

You just have to be there to know how amazing mothers are.

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Author:

A feminist mother of 3 who thinks she can write.

4 thoughts on “The Amazing Race

  1. nicely said, dearie. you rally have a knack of putting what people think out into writing. i couldn’t have said it any better. being a FTWM, i wish everyday that i’m at work, that i’m with adam. eventhough he’s being taken care of pretty well by my mom (thank god), a day doesnt go by that i don’t wish i didnt have to trouble her and that i could take care of him myself. maybe one day in the future i’ll be able to do so, but in the meantime, i keep positive and take each day (and emotion) as it comes.

    Like

    1. Aw, thanks for taking the time to read!

      I’m sure all FTWM mothers while at the same time glad to be at work because they know they are providing for the family, but there is always that dread that accompanies them. Those who have our mothers to take care of our kids while we are at work really are lucky. My mom used to look after Eros when I used to work last time and that really eased my mind. Some of my friends at work couldn’t concentrate because they have to put their trust in a babysitter and no matter how well they know the baby sitter, there’s still always doubt and worry.

      Insya Allah one day you will be able to look after Adam the way you really wish you could. But right now, I’m sure you’ll treasure every moment you have with him because you know how hard it is to be away from him.

      Like

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