Motherhood glorification is the norm in India. As soon as a woman begins her motherhood journey, her individuality is taken away and her only identity of hers is of being a mother. Her life prior to motherhood becomes ancient history and her identity vanishes in thin air.
I remember a scene from the movie Shakuntala Devi where Anupama’s friends suggest she give up her career and look after her newborn child. They believe a mother’s only responsibility should be her children. This is just one of the many examples of how we romanticise the whole idea of motherhood and see it as a woman’s destiny.
We have a scarce understanding of motherhood and have often dubbed a mother as a sacrificial being. Why can’t mothers have their own lives? Why can’t mothers have their individual identities?
Motherhood is not equal to sacrifice
We need to stop promoting that a mother is someone who can make one sacrifice after another for her children. This way, we rob a woman of everything else other than her ‘motherhood‘.
Before we look at her as someone with children, shouldn’t we look at her as an individual with her own strengths and weaknesses? Why should we expect her to give up the life she led earlier just because she has a little one to look after?
If we look at mothers as the epitome of sacrifice, their children grow up considering themselves responsible for it. This toxicity keeps building up in them and can have disastrous consequences. Motherhood glorification also leads to women thinking it to be their responsibility to give up all their achievements to bring up their children. They don’t even consider balancing the two as an option.
They must understand that their sense of self-identity is as much a part of them as their children. If they do not realise this at an early stage, they might later blame their children for their miseries. This can further lead to disputes no one would like to indulge in.
Mothers are ‘perfectly imperfect’
Glorification of motherhood leads us to put our mothers on a pedestal. Having given them such a position, we fail to consider the fact that they too might make mistakes. We falsely believe that they are ‘flawless’ and ‘perfect’. Even when they are wrong, we gladly accept what they say. We fear going against them because we have been made to believe that mothers always take the right decision.
Why don’t we gather enough courage to speak up and break this myth?
Just like everyone else, our mothers are not perfect. They have their own strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They are not saintly figures incapable of committing errors.
At the same time, we also need to understand that a woman needs her own time to ‘become a mother’. We can’t expect her to master the art of raising children immediately after her child is born. In the initial days, she will probably require some assistance from experienced parents. Slowly and gradually, she can handle things on her own. No woman is born with ‘motherly qualities’. Time and experience bring out the mother in them. So let’s not pressurise a woman to become a ‘perfect mother’ from day one.
Motherhood glorification creates unnecessary pressure on childfree women
Romanticising motherhood would mean disregarding the personal choice of childfree women. There are women who don’t want to have children and there are women who don’t have children. If we constantly make them feel incomplete or inferior, they lose their self-confidence. This can lead to something as dangerous as having a child only to please society. In this way, she not only supports the age-old belief system of motherhood being a woman’s aim but also causes self-harm.
Motherhood can be a beautiful phase in a woman’s life and give her some priceless moments to cherish forever. For some, it can also be the best life experience. But none of this can happen if the decision to embrace motherhood is a forced one. For a woman to enjoy being a parent, she first needs to look at it as a choice and not a duty. Only when she accepts herself as a mother, can she raise an empowered and independent child.
Views expressed are the author’s own