Six months, ten extra kilos and (relatively few) sleepless nights after I gave birth two years ago, I had become accustomed to being told that I don’t look like a mother. I’m not sure if that translates to my being too young, too in-control or too fond of strumming air guitars.
In a nation whose collective consciousness defines a mother as a self-sacrificing creature with oodles of pity to dish out, there is no room for funky mamas. Lose the hair, gain the weight and perfect the hassled look. Do not fit into old jeans, sing zeppelin to the baby and have a post-delivery glow.
Also prepare for everyone and their neighbours giving you advice about this and that. Especially take the shield out for the “I’ve raised two kids” and “in our time…” attacks. They’re flung by possibly well meaning oldies, all of whom think it’s either their way or juvenile delinquency as far as child rearing is concerned. Smiling politely gets you off easy. Doing your thing in the end makes it better.
Some people will tell you motherhood is a test of tolerance. Yes. A test of how much of adults-gone-berserk-over-baby you can tolerate…looks like this one, talks like that one, sleeps like god knows who. From finger length to laughing style, everything is up for grabs and everyone has an opinion on it. Nobody’s listening to “but all babies do that”.
Meanwhile, the baby in question is not mama-glued. She is a global citizen who enjoys the company of disparate folks of the family variety, loves outings of any kind and does things her way (no like papa, like mama for her).
If looking the part is half the job done, I’m getting no medals (who made people in charge of these anyway?). I hope to never wear the sentimental-schmuck-meets-hassled-mother cloak and fit into a box marked ‘best mums’.
What I will happily do is tell stories, go places, write diaries, pass on sexy black dress, give ash-dispersing instructions (at exciting enough holiday-place) and train her ears to stay the hell away from the likes of Justin Bieber.