Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fears about Motherhood: Fact or Fiction?

For this two weeks, blogger mommies from Singapore would be sharing about their journey through motherhood, and how it has changed them.  

Today, let's say "hello!" to Evelyn, who's a mum to two.  I got to know her through blogging, and I really love how she embraces play and fun with her children!  She blogs at "The Bottomsup Blog", and is trying to challenge herself to blog everyday.  I've been enjoying her thoughtful posts  and various monthly themes, like the series of posts on photography in June.

When I was pregnant with my second child last year, one of the books on my reading list was Lionel Shriver's "We Need To Talk About Kevin." Frankly I wouldn't recommend this as a read for anyone who's growing a baby in her belly, mostly because it was inspired by the Columbine high school massacre and has a similar storyline! But the book was not without its light-hearted moments, one of which featured a mom cataloguing the things she dreaded about becoming a parent. It was a list of 10, but these are the fears that I think would've resonated most with me before the kids came along:

# Hassle
# Turning into a cow.
# Less time just the two of us. (Try no time just the two of us.)
# Worthless social life. (I had never had a decent conversation with a friend's five-year-old in the room.)
# Social demotion. (Once I had a toddler in tow, every man I knewevery woman, too, which is depressingwould take me less seriously.)

Now that I've clocked six years of motherhood experience with two kids (aged six and 10 months) in tow, I thought it'd be interesting to revisit these fears and respond to them, so here goes:

Hassle: Sadly, this is true. From the second your baby leaves your body, the spotlight shifts in the story of your life and you're relegated to supporting player. Some days you're not even credited. The plot, thankfully, is predictable. There's going out hassle, where I have to verbally dress a six-year-old who's already learned that I can be ignored, while packing something equivalent to a mini-vacation bag so my 10-month-old doesn't starve or suffer in a soiled diaper while we're out. For my efforts, I get to be the one who needs freshening up by the time we're ready to leave. There's mealtime hassle, where I conduct food negotiations over the dinner table ("I'm full!" "Five more spoonfuls, or no more bubble tea!"). These days you might also catch me dangling a biscuit over my baby's mouth as bait, so he'll open up for the butternut squash I'm trying to feed him. This trick gets old really fast, and I'm pretty sure the Baby Whisperer (if she were still alive) would smack me for the blatant lack of respect. And there's sleep hassle, where I'm no longer allowed to pick my bedtimes and wake-times, and instead have to settle for whatever I can get. 

I've had a few years to become accustomed to living inconveniently. I've learned to eat standing up with a baby strapped to me. I've fallen asleep sitting up with a baby strapped to me. I've vacuumed, washed the dishes, and cleaned up doggie messes with a baby strapped to me. I've stood for hours at parties with a baby strapped to me. I've loaded up on groceries with both hands, with a baby strapped to me, and hopped on a bus home. Occasionally I'll think I should win an award for this, and I'll just as quickly realise that no-one cares. But just as you pick your battles, I think you can pick your hassles. I breastfed both my kids, but not for for the recommended six months. I buy take-out more often than I cook, and my baby eats out of bottles, mostly. I have housekeeping help. I do whatever it takes to like my life, and most of the time, it works.

Turning into a cow: No-one's called me a "cow" to my face (yet), but seven months after I had my daughter, someone said to me: "You used to be punk rock, but now you're more Mothercare." Catchy, but ouch. Thing is, punk rockers are skinny. I wasn't, in places, and it was easy to let it all hang loose in maternity jeans long after I no longer qualified to shop in the maternity section. I didn't realise the world was paying attention! With Kid #2, I got smarter. I bought a Belly Bandit (as endorsed by Jessica Alba!) and slapped it on every chance I had. It didn't banish the mum tum like the ads promised, but at least I could pretend for a few hours that it didn't exist—and fake normalcy by fitting into my regular clothes. God forbid anyone should ever glance at me and think "Mothercare" again.

Less (or no) couple time: Well there's less time for everything, so while this is true, it doesn't hit me too hard, to be honest. I've become one of those people who would pick a good book and a hot shower long enough for me to sing and daydream in, over a date. If anything, it's me-time that I value most now as a mom. That's my time to do my own thing, whatever it may be, when the kids are asleep. Or the rare nights out where I get to ditch Mommy Mode for a few hours and recharge with good food (and junk food), multiple rounds of coffee, and my all-time favourite activity: The good ol' walk 'n' talk. 

Worthless social life: This is pure fiction—my social life has gone up a couple of notches since I've become a mom! (Or maybe it's just my social skills.) I've linked up with moms at the playground, at schools, and through blogging, and I've had many decent conversations despite kids being in the same room. The secret is in picking playdates that your kid actually likes, so you'll be free to sip coffee and trade stories instead of breaking up fights and fending off bullies. And with more moms trying to work or run a business from home, playdates can be as useful as networking meetings for throwing up jobs and useful work connections; it's already happening for me. 

Social demotion: I can't decide if I'm a work-at-home mom or a stay-home mom. Does anyone even care about the distinction? I chose to take a year off work for Kid #2, who arrived last September, but before that I used some of my time at home to earn a post-graduate diploma, start a business, and take on enough freelance assignments to not require an allowance from my husband. I've been home for six years and I've heard it all, from "You're just a housewife?" and "Still bumming around?" to "Don't let your brain rot!" and "Dear, I (and the rest of the world) have to work you know?" During arguments, my own husband has suggested that I "do nothing" and "have too much time" on my hands. It hurts, but only because a part of me believes there is some truth to all of these claims. I am not the scarily efficient woman from that op-ed in The Atlantic that they're all talking about, who has to save time by punching 1:11, 2:22, and 3:33 on her microwave oven. I am the woman who has enough time to read Facebook updates, which makes me feel guilty. There are days where I am completely happy and at peace with my place in the world, and days where I wish I could be more powerful and influential, and that I had something more important on my hands to worry about than "What shall we play today?" I don't mind it; it keeps me on my toes and keeps me looking out for anything that could add more meaning and value to my life. Because at the very least, I want to be able to take me seriously, even if no-one else does.

How has motherhood changed you?  Link-up below if you have a story to share!


  1. E,

    My colleague wanted to pass me 'The Truth about Kevin' but she waited till Caden is past 12 months to finally let me read it, for precisely the same reasons you mentioned! Haha!

    It is a very powerful book. Not recommended light reading, because there's just so much social, mental and physical issues to grapple with. It makes you think, and that was what I took with me when I closed the final chapter.

    Motherhood. Post belly bounce, lack of sleep and hissy fits aside, it's a coming of age, regardless of how old we are (were) when we received the gift.

    It made us women.

  2. Bravo Evelyn! If we don't take ourselves seriously or give ourselves credit... nobody else will and we cannot depend on others to.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  3. I love the "I do whatever it takes to like my life, and most of the time, it works."

    That's so important, esp for mums to be, given the pressure they may or may not know they are under.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...