Right from the moment a woman gets married, or perhaps even before that, judgment from society keeps flowing in! No one is immune to it – not us, not our fellow moms, not celebrity moms. In India, we hold tremendous respect for the ‘mother’ – the one who brings a new into the world. But the mother is also the one for whom we reserve the most biting of remarks and criticism! In a recent interview, Kareena Kapoor Khan lashed out at everyone who judges a new mother for some totally unreasonable things!
Even though he is only a few months old, Kareena Kapoor’s baby, little Taimur, has already experienced a taste of how the world functions. There was a huge furore over Baby Taimur’s name and how his parents could possibly choose it. But it didn’t stop there. The ball of criticism keeps rolling, from parenting decisions to how much time we spend with the baby, to how we behave as mothers.
Recently, Bebo talked about five really unfair things we mothers get judged for in India. We love how she busts every one of them, true to the spirit of the modern Indian woman who refuses to abide by something her heart does not believe in!
1. The ‘Right Age’ to Have a Baby
All of us have experienced this one at some point or the other. The ‘alarm’ from well-meaning relatives and neighbours when we are still not married at 30. The ‘meaningful’ questions about ‘whether there is a problem’ when we don’t have a baby within the first two years of marriage. The pressure to have a baby at what society thinks is the right age is immense, especially in India. Kareena too experienced a fair share of this when she got married. But as long as you are healthy and fit, she thinks the decision should be yours alone! It should be based on when you feel prepared, NOT when everyone else thinks is the right time!
“Everyone has an opinion in India, especially when it concerns women. `Hey, you’re old enough to be married.’ `Oh, you must have a baby now. It’s the right age.’
These statements don’t resonate with me. I know that people in the West reproduce even when they’re well past their 40s. When you want to have a baby should be your choice!”
2. 45 Days Confinement Period / Returning to Work
The confinement period after childbirth has been an intrinsic part of the Indian culture, and many communities still follow it. It was initially started to make sure the new mother got ample rest, nutrition, and protection from any irritants/germs in the outside world. Very often, new mothers are served bland and tasteless food at this time and even not allowed to leave their room. However, adhering to this confinement period may not be either an option or a choice for today’s modern Indian mother.
We, as new moms, ensure we look after our health and follow the doctor’s advice to get adequate nutrition for ourselves and our baby. However, if we want to get back to our feet, or return to work, before the 45 days period is over, how can someone else seal the decision for us? Is it fair to forcibly confine us to a room even when medical advice doesn’t require or recommend it, and criticise us if we disobey?
“Yes, I was on my feet a few days after the delivery, but it’s upsetting to have people judge you for it. No one has the right to comment on how I conduct myself or what sort of a mother I am. How can anyone decide if I can step out before 45 days? If I’m spoken about like that, what would it be like for other women?”
3. Postpartum Depression
The period after delivery can sometimes be even more challenging than the nine months of pregnancy. This is a period when many new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), or an intense feeling of sadness and tearfulness, often caused by hormonal imbalance. However, there are many women who manage to recover quicker than others and get back on their feet soon after delivery. Isn’t it crazy to expect that every new mom will go through a period of PPD and remain ‘low’ and ‘sombre’ after childbirth? Not only is this ignorant, but also terribly unfair to the many women who actually go through this serious mental health concern.
“Postpartum depression is not a must, right? It’s whimsical to generalise that every woman goes through that phase, almost making it sound like a norm. Every pregnancy and every mother’s journey with her child during those nine months and afterwards is different. You can’t draw parallels. No one out there really knows me or what I am feeling at a given time. How can anyone decide on my behalf whether I am supposed to feel depressed?”
4. Sharing Mommy Experiences on Social Media
In today’s internet-savvy generation, social media is our best friend. That’s where we meet other new moms, share our baby’s pictures, and stay connected with friends and relatives. It is a delight for many of us to share our experiences of motherhood with the other people in our life. However, if some of us do not frequently post about our baby on social media, does that mean we don’t love our baby?! Is it necessary to be over-effusive about parenting and raising kids and share every detail of our life with other people?
“Just because I’m elusive and my husband and I are not on social media talking about our emotions on an hourly basis, people take the liberty to put out stories about my child and me. What kind of a mother I am is something that will unfold with time. I will not scream from rooftops about experiencing motherhood or how much I love Taimur.”
5. Weight Loss after Pregnancy
Finally, this one is perhaps the most taxing and distressing of all judgment we face as new mothers. “Oh, how much weight you have put on! How will you ever lose it?!” – so say the very people who congratulated us on how ‘big’ we looked during pregnancy. Why is the pressure to bounce back after delivery so immense, when all of us know it takes time, patience and effort? Celebrity moms like Kareena actually have it worse, even though we assume they have fitness trainers and the money to make it possible quickly. In reality, celeb moms are criticised both for losing AND for not losing baby weight! While the former is seen as a sign of ‘focusing too much on oneself’, the latter becomes ‘unattractive and not glamorous anymore’!
“It was annoying to read reports about my fitness regimen and the way I’m losing weight. My aim is not just to lose the weight I have put on. I don’t want to do it overnight. It may take long, but I want to feel light, happy and energetic throughout the process. As a couple, we don’t share details of our lives with the world at large. So, I will not clarify what we do, how I plan to lose weight or what I do with my baby.”
How To Deal With Judgment As a New Mom
How many of the above experiences have you faced in your journey as a new mom? Society may be evolving and people may be getting more educated and broad-minded; however, these criticisms and opinions passed on new mothers still prevail!
Dealing with such pressures can be emotionally and physically draining. The best way to deal with them is to get tuned to your own instincts as a mother and as a woman. Our instincts never lie, and know just what is best for us and for our baby. Don’t give in to demands of behaving like a perfect mother. The pressure of judgment may forever remain, no matter what you do. But, as Bebo puts is beautifully, doing what you think is right makes all the difference.
“There’s always the pressure of being judged, no matter what you do. It’s about how you deal with it. I enjoyed my pregnancy, and I will enjoy my life on MY terms.”