If you are a mom, you almost often end up feeling there are not enough hours in the day. And maybe that’s the reason you have somewhere down the line learnt the art of crunching time, taking slack from others and risking your own health to get everything done- because if you won’t, who will, right?
Mothers may try to show that everything is swell but the infamous ‘mother’s guilt’ often gets to them. Doing the double shift at home and work is stressful for most women. Besides, many women experience guilt by believing that they neglect their families while working. In reality, motherhood is in every sense the ultimate sacrifice, and did I mention ‘super exhausting’ too.
Mother of two girls and a working mom, Medha Shri shares, “We moms feel constant tiredness. The guilt that we are away while the kid is waiting. And when you are too tired to play with them and sometimes when you don’t but you know they have been waiting for it the whole day. Having plans despite knowing their schedule is not fixed… as in you think you will sleep/read when they take a nap in the noon… but they take so much time and energy that you are already tired.” Writer Ankita Shukla adds, “Juggling between career and baby feels like heartbreak every day.”
And it’s not the working mom alone who is suffering. Not having professional outlets for their education and talent can be frustrating and stressful for many stay-at-home moms. Ritu Verma who gave up her career to take care of her little one shares, “There are a lot more expectations from a stay at home mom. There is this constant feeling that I am not doing enough.” “I feel my life is not my own. And if I want to bring some semblance of normalcy, I am judged either by others or by myself (the guilt creeps in),” shares another mom, Pratibha Manrai. A mother rarely gets a feeling of having done enough for their kids and that is quite damaging to their psyche.
Anna Chandy, Chair of The Live Love Laugh Foundation’s Board of Trustees shares, “I think society lacks concern and empathy towards women who wear multiple hats, and often takes them for granted. For example, very often, there seems to be a lack of concern for a new mother while complete focus is given to the baby, forgetting that new mothers can be stressed due to the new role as well as the added pressures of managing themselves and another young person. Society also does not account for the physical and hormonal changes that are part of pregnancy and childbirth. Women are also expected to be perfect wives, perfect caregivers, perfect employers, perfect employees with no room for error or physical or emotional exhaustion.”
Another reason that women are more predisposed to mental health issues is because throughout their life they are also undergoing biological changes, unlike men. Dr. Sandeep Vohra, Neuropsychiatrist, Addiction Psychiatrist and Adolescent And Child Psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital recommends mothers to have uninterrupted 6-8 hours of sleep every day, followed by a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. “Also, she should not keep issues bottled up; else she will eventually succumb to them. This can happen smoothly if expectations are clearly communicated to the partner.”
Postpartum depression affects nearly 20 per cent of Indian mothers within the first 12 weeks of childbirth, while a milder form of the same, postpartum blues affects 50-80 per cent of Indian women. Further, while limited research has been conducted on the specific group of Indian mothers, symptoms of depression and anxiety are 2-3 times more common, generally, in women than men. Clinical Depression is twice as common in women as men. Women also have greater severity of symptoms in the case of anxiety disorders. The average age of onset of clinical depression in India is 31.9 years. Indian women of that age are often married and have at least 1 child, shares Anna.
Dr. Rajesh Parikh, Hon. Neuropsychiatrist & Director Medical Research, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre recommends, “Mothers should first of all appreciate the outstanding role they play in their families and in society. Without mothers, mankind would come to an inglorious end. So do families many a times. In addition, mothers also contribute to society with their occupations. Mothers should not neglect themselves. They should pursue their interests and professions while ensuring that they stay healthy and happy. Mothers go wrong in feeling guilty about not doing full justice to their families by pursuing professional responsibilities.”
Despite doing everything that needs to be done, she feels guilty. Mom Nidhi Ojha recommends, “I would caution all the wonderful moms out there, don’t lose yourself. Between all the hats we juggle throughout the day remember to wear ‘me first’ for some time for sure. I think when we pay attention to ourselves and are eternally happy we bring more happiness to others. Stay happy, feel blessed you are a mom!”
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