The relentless physical, emotional and mental strain which newborns put on their mommies makes motherhood exhausting for them. It is not easy or fair to be the primary caregiver of an infant. Parenthood is a joint responsibility and mommies should ask daddies to step in and lend a helping hand. Recently, actor Kareena Kapoor Khan said that parents should share the load and responsibility of bringing up a child. As per a report in the Hindustan Times, the UNICEF Goodwill Advocate participated as a panellist in the discussion on ways to eliminate preventable neonatal deaths. It was here that she recounted how she asked her husband Saif Ali Khan to give their son Taimur kangaroo care, as she was too exhausted from childbirth.
She said, “The first thing after childbirth that you want to do is put the child on the mother’s breast. After childbirth I was tired, but that was on my mind. With my eyes half-shut, I asked Saif to give Taimur that kangaroo love. When the mother is recuperating from childbirth, the father must step in. A shout out to those fathers whose support is important for a newborn’s health.”
As if childbirth isn’t an exhaustive process in itself, new moms are expected to ace motherhood within seconds the progeny plops out of their uterus.
What most people around a new mother forget is that motherhood is a learning experience. Moms are not born programmed to take care of an infant, they have to learn it.
Moreover, learning requires humongous amounts of energy and patience, which are the most taxing of all virtues, when you have a tiny demanding human in the equation. The bottom line here is that mothers need help, because motherhood is damn exhausting. The struggle to physically recuperate childbirth (both natural and c-section)…to produce milk and get your child to consume that milk…to change nappies, bathe, burp and lull your child. New mothers need as much help as they can.
But with the increasing trend of nuclear families, the help which used to come in the form of grandmothers and extended families is seldom available now.
Long ago our patriarchal culture divided the duties of a household among the two genders. As the role of a breadwinner was awarded primarily to men, women automatically became caregivers. It is due to generations of gendered conditioning that men refuse to change nappies or burp their children even today because they think of childcare to be a woman’s job.
However, things are changing now. Men are opening up to becoming hands-on dads, who will wake up at 4 AM to bottle feed their child, without cribbing about it. What they lack is confidence in their capabilities and some motivation. All mothers need to do is ask for help and tell them what they want.
It takes two to tango. It takes two to make a child, and we need to share the load and responsibility -Kareena Kapoor Khan
Mothers, however, fail to trust their partners when it comes to caring for a newborn. The same patriarchy which told men that it is not their job to rear children, has also made mothers believe that only they know what is the best for their kid. So just as we need to ask new dads to step in for fatherly duties, we need to teach new moms to learn to trust their partners. They should accept the fact that a man can learn to be a great caregiver to a child only from experience, just like them. So why not take the back seat for some time and let daddy call the shots.
As Kapoor put it, “It takes two to tango. It takes two to make a child, and we need to share the load and responsibility. Of course, what a mother can do, a father can’t, but there are a lot of things that a father can bring to a table that probably a mother can’t. And, if we are lucky to have that support, I should use it to the fullest.”
Picture Credit: Celina Photography
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own