I have been meaning to address something that has been repeated to me a few times. I have been told that I need to ‘relax’ and learn to ‘let go’ when it comes to Ayaan. That I need to be more comfortable leaving him with others so that I can live my life. But I am living my life – life for me now is with Ayaan and I love having him around all the time. But I have also managed to find a balance that works for me, which allows me enough time to myself, if and when I need it.
I am not only a mother, I am also a public health professional, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend. Does being a mother predominantly define me – I think at this point in time, more than anything else, it does and I am very okay with that. No relation, no connection has come so naturally to me before. There is so much clarity in my relationship with Ayaan that sometimes it scares me. Am I just disillusioned? Have my other roles suffered as a result? I don’t think so. I think these roles require my attention at different times and with positive support, balance is more easily achieved.
Just like every baby is different with different needs, every mother is different and has different needs. Some mothers want to spend all their time with their children; some want time to themselves; some want to go back to work; some want to stay home; some choose to breastfeed; some choose to bottle-feed; some choose to sleep train and some choose to co-sleep. As a new mum I haven’t felt completely supported in my choices. ‘If you carry Ayaan too much you are spoiling him’ or ‘You need to leave Ayaan with others so that you can get back to your life’ or ‘You need to involve others more in Ayaan’s care so that they don’t feel left out’ and my favourite ‘You’re too controlling’.
My village consists of people that understand I don’t need to hurry back to work and leave Ayaan in the care of others. They understand that I believe having Ayaan is a privilege and a responsibility I take very seriously. I love every part of caring for Ayaan, not just the fun camera worthy moments but also the dirty nappies, the multiple late night wakings, the distracted feeds, the cries after bath time, the sleep deprivation, the need to be held and comforted. I love it all – each moment is a memory I cherish.
A dear mama-friend, Elizabeth Molloy, very correctly said that her daughter will not love her as much as she loves her daughter and thats ok. I agree. Ayaan will love me, I don’t doubt that, but he will probably not love me as much as I love him, or at least he not in the same way. My love for him is the basis of all the decisions I make. When I strongly disagree with the opinions of others or dig my heels in about a decision I have made I am not doing it to spite anyone or upset anyone. I do it because I believe I am doing what is best for Ayaan. If I am seen as being difficult for it – then so be it.
We are all different, we have different interests, come from different cultures, had different upbringings, which all shapes the way in which we parent. There is no ‘one fits all’ way so why even after all these years is there so much pressure placed on mothers to be a certain way, to adopt certain methods of parenting and when we don’t criticism prevails over support. We are all doing our best, and that looks different for each family.
Ayaan is only going to be small for so long. He is only going to need me for so long. There will be a time when he will be independent and won’t need me as much and that’s ok, but while he does, I choose to give him all my attention. I don’t want to look back at this time and regret that I wasn’t selfish with Ayaan’s time. I don’t want to regret that I passed on moments with Ayaan to accommodate the needs of others.
@motherly recently shared a post that showed 85% of mothers don’t feel supported and understood by society – 85%!!! Being a mum has been the most rewarding experience but also the loneliest. On days like today when my anxiety it at its peak, my hair in a mum crown and greasy from not being washed, the circles under my eyes are darker than usual, and I have forgone a shower, all I need to hear is “You’re doing great mama”.