This morning my day started with a chirpy conversation when I received a phone call from a very close friend who discovered that she had finally conceived after trying for a year. I could not miss the blended tone of enthusiasm and anxiety in her narration. We as women are designed by God to bond over personal stories. The ups and downs of life give us opportunities to talk and our lives revolve around unwinding through such conversations. As a gearing up new parent, my friend was clouded by a constant worry of her thin body structure. Her doctor prescribed her high calorie food. What worried her most was the constant attention of her family members who focused solely on her weight.
How I look v/s how they see me?
This brings me to write about how we (women) have been so easily body shamed. The struggle is not restricted to merely females, even males are considered a misfit if they don’t fall in the stereotype of tall, dark and handsome. I will however focus on the women and their body changes especially with reference to pregnancy. Post pregnancy a women’s body undergoes major physical changes. Biologically speaking, before the uterus starts to contract to its original size, a woman might appear bulky. Some women struggle with postpartum weight gain while some go through sudden weight loss. This change in appearance does not go down well with the people around. I vividly remember when my little girl was 5 months old, I attended a family wedding and most of the congratulatory messages were accompanied by the concern “oh take care of the weight, this is how it starts and one can never stop putting on”, “Ah! Caesarian, weight gain is showing beta”. My friends and relatives poured in suggestions in an attempt to save me. I noticed how, the society has bias standards for women and her physical appearance, the same women who appeared graceful during the past nine months starts to appear like a cow.
However, thanks to the liberal times, postpartum body is no more for self-pity, posting images with stretch marks and heavy bottoms or sagging stomach is a pride for many females. These women are grateful and normalize post pregnancy bodies. A viral post by Sameera Reddy (Bollywood celebrity and a mother to two kids) talking about being body shamed after her first pregnancy is relatable to many of us. Personally for me, the stretch marks, the hair-fall and the weight gain were initial hiccups, now they make me feel like a warrior and I am proud to have these as victory marks of the special journey to motherhood.
Small changes in our lifestyle
My life after the arrival of our baby girl has gone under many changes. The first one was noticed by a friend who came to visit us and pointed how we replaced a small dustbin with a bigger one. Our sleep cycle on most days was fixed, with early to bed and early to rise strategy on weekdays and laze around weekends whereas now we are tamed by the routine of our little girl. Food time is strictly no TV time and we bond as a family over meals. As a mother I have become a pro at preparing snacks in minimum time with obvious inputs from Youtube and Instagram. Juggling between two different tasks while keeping an eye at the baby is another feat to boast about. The emotional quotient which in the initial months went topsy-turvy has gained balance and now I can make out when she cries for attention. As a mother I have realized the potential to endure. With each passing day I fall, and rise again and try to keep my sanity intact.
A day in my life before the baby was as ordinary as it would be for most of us. My frivolous attitude towards food choices has changed ever since I started nursing my little girl. The onus of giving her nutrition has made me eliminate unhealthy options. There have been times when I have looked up at packaged food items and read labels to be sure of what I am passing. Raising a baby is not a fairytale, there are days when I felt low and on those days my baby and I have realized the importance of fresh air while strolling together in our residential campus. In the process of stepping out I always made extra efforts to look good because it in turn, makes me feel good. A dolled up baby and a happy mother have been my top priority. My baby has taught me the importance of self-care and self-love.
Mandatory meet and greet sessions
Modern parenting comes with its own baggage of challenges. A typically working couple who generally looked forward to weekends to unwind make changes in their social circles. I remember how for me after coming back from work, me time was about taking a walk and speaking to my mother. With motherhood, I try to connect with young and like-minded moms, especially during our regular evening outings. As a new parent I make efforts to learn new activities that can enhance the developing brain of my little one. I challenge myself to learn and make the most of my presence for our child.
Parenting partners with individuality
The other day I realized that my phone had just four pictures of my husband and me. Our little girl is obviously the center of our universe but along with her we aim to grow as a couple. Our role after her arrival is not by default that of a parent. We both aspire to keep pushing each other to evolve in our respective fields. His dream to ride a bike all the way to Leh Ladakh will also be a possibility and so will be mine to go trekking with my girl gang. We both believe all of this will be possible as long as we continue to communicate and support each other.
My advice to the friend I was talking on the phone that day will always be, to be ready for these changes, as they say in an Urdu couplet; “Ye ishq nhi asaan itna smjh lije, ik aag k dariya hai and dub kr jana hai” (This love is not easy. just consider it is a river of fire and we have to sink to go through it!)