I’ve been a mother for about 5 years now and I feel compelled to share this about motherhood. You often hear people extolling mothers for their immense strength. You almost always hear the word strength associated with motherhood. Granted. But there’s another less discussed side of the story that deserves to be told. And that is, motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable in ways that you never imagined possible.
Now, before you go up in arms and protest against this statement, let me illustrate what I mean with some real life examples.
Last week, I was in the supermarket with my five-year-old son. I had turned my back on him, just infinitesimally, to grab a carton of milk. And before I knew it, he was tugging on my dress and mumbling mummy, while choking back his impending outburst.
My heart froze for even before turning to look at him, I knew something was amiss. I turned and to my horror noticed that his nose was bruised and had turned into an awful concoction of red, blue and purple. At that moment, I lost all sense of rationality, and burst into tears as I leaned in to hug my boy. See what I mean about how motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable?
I burst into tears smack in the middle of a supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon.
In hindsight, I feel really silly, for it was my boy who was injured and I should have been sensible enough to assess the extent of the injury and console him. But alas I couldn’t for I had feared the worst. I thought he had broken his nose!
The kind lady who was promoting Milo came forth to give me a cup of it, and when I gave it to my son she said,
When your child starts crying, it often makes you cry as well.
Mummy, I think you need it too. And she placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. It’s moments like these that restore my faith in humanity.
Coming back to how motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable. See, you could be that confident, independent woman, walking through the supermarket, with poise and elegance, in 4-inch heels, a Chanel bag, perfectly manicured nails, and bouncy curls, holding one child’s hand while balancing your toddler on the hip and shopping for groceries at the same time. When you’re done, you know that somehow you will single-handedly get the kids and the groceries in the car that you drive, heels and all, without losing any bit of your poise. No sweat.
But then come moments like these that make you lose every bit of your composure and send you into a wild frenzy. Because all the mental strength and rationality that you imagine yourself to have, dissipate even at the slightest thought of harm befalling your child.
When as much as a tiny scratch on your little angel’s arm leaves your heart acutely wounded, you cannot help but admit that motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable.
Then there’s this other scenario. You’re sitting through an important meeting, brainstorming, contributing ideas and being that independent 21st century working mum when suddenly, your phone buzzes. You peek at your phone and realise it’s your child’s childcare center calling.
The rest of the meeting is nothing short of mental torture. While you are trying to do your best in the meeting, all sorts of thoughts are racing through your mind. You want to step out and answer the call yet you don’t want to come across as unprofessional. Your heart starts beating faster, and your palms get sweaty.
Why is his teacher calling? What could have happened? Is everything ok? Is he unwell? Or worse, is he injured?
Mums always worry about their children, and that makes it harder for them to concentrate at work.
Apart from such periodic episodes, on a daily basis, motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable because every time you come across news about a catastrophe that befalls a child, you can’t help but cringe and think of the possibility of the same fate befalling your child. You imagine and you worry yourself sick.
You might have heard of this quote by Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”. I cannot agree enough.
Motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable because when your child is not with you, you just can’t seem to function normally. This gets exceptionally hard when the kids grow older, and start going out on their own. You find yourself in a constant state of worry until they arrive home, safe and sound, and in one piece!
You tell yourself to chill, everyone around you tells you to chill, but you know, and I know, that it’s easier said than done.
These are just a few of the myriad of things that happen to mums, that lead me to making this assertion that motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable. And I think it’s incredibly important for us to know that this happens, to understand why it happens and most of all, to accept that it happens. There’s no point being in denial or insisting that you are strong enough never to crumble.
Because one too many a time, women are conditioned into believing that they need to be strong. But what we aren’t told enough is that it is okay not to be okay. It is perfectly normal and acceptable to not be okay at times. And what happens after not being okay is, in my humble opinion, the most amazing aspect of motherhood.
Sometimes, it’s OK not to be OK.
Motherhood tears you apart, time and again. It makes your heart bleed. When your child is hurt, when your child feels upset, when that big kid across the road bullies your child, when your child experiences failure for the first time, or time after time for that matter, when your child faces rejection, when your child is less of a child but still your baby and faces heartbreak – in all of these, more than your child, it’s your heart that will break first, and most.
But the effect of motherhood is like a double-edged sword. For yes, motherhood makes you weak and vulnerable and ridiculously emotional. But in all of that vulnerability, and through all that tears, what you are essentially doing is fighting.
You are fighting battles that make you a stronger and better version of yourself. In overcoming every one of those sleepless nights, heartbreaks and breakdowns, you become a tiny bit stronger. And when all those difficult years have passed and your life has passed you by, someday you will look back with pride at just how far you have come.
As for those difficult days, long nights and crying episodes, I guess they are all a quid pro quo for the joy and bliss that children bring!