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The ‘supermom’ trap

Illustration for TH_sreejith r.kumar

Illustration for TH_sreejith r.kumar  

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Society is trying to sell this larger-than-life image for a reason

Kanika is killing herself with guilt for wanting to go back to work six months after childbirth. She has a great support system at home and an understanding workplace. Her post-partum blues have barely lifted, and she is already worrying about being able to do justice to her child, while giving her best at work.

I am no stranger to this bitter-sweet feeling, having felt like a bad mother for leaving my child and going to work on days he was unwell.

This guilt, in extreme, ends up giving most mothers the supermom, or superwoman, complex. They feel they can do it all and handle it all. People play spectators, encouraging this superwoman complex. It suits the Indian familial system if a woman plays supermom — no one, even her spouse, needs to pitch in with child-rearing.

The onus of being a domestic goddess, supermom and perfect professional is all on her. She does not realise that in the process of trying to be perfect in all these roles, she is turning putty in the hands of society that does not think she deserves some time to be human too.

Soul talk

This soul-twisting, heart-wrenching feeling is no good; it prevents women from leading fuller lives. People are forever willing to judge mothers and pass blanket statements on how they are selfish if they prioritise work over children.

Our society is passive-aggressive; we know how to subvert women, especially if they are mothers.

It is easy to fall into this trap, and allow society to put you on a pedestal, deify you and ingrain in your psyche that you are god to your children. There you go. Internalise the guilt, chase the ephemeral superwoman, and spend the rest of your years ferrying your children to school and activity classes, doing quality kid time, and handling birthday bashes. Juggle all this while tackling an extremely demanding job that requires you to be always available on the phone.

Most women lose sleep over not being perfect or carry a burden of guilt for not being able to do all of this while keeping their sanity in place.

The supermom is a myth. Society is trying to sell us this larger-than-life image of a mom for a reason. To ensnare and trap us into chasing this ephemeral supermom status that no normal human being can attain. In trying to attain this perfection, we forget we are fine the way we are — flawed, human and fallible.

Get off the pedestal

So, go ahead and delegate some chores to the family and the spouse. You will end up a nervous wreck otherwise.

Get some “me time” sans the children and spouse. Nurture your friendships, which might be the only non-judgmental space you get as a wife and mom. Mommy groups on Facebook are a saviour for some of us. A place where we can be ourselves, share our fears and doubts without being labelled bad mom or incompetent homemaker.

We should know we are much more than the roles we have personally and professionally. We are complete in ourselves, and don’t need anyone’s validation or a pat on the back. Our best bet is silencing those monsters of doubt that lurk in our minds.

Every now and then, take a step back, reflect on your life and give yourself a pat on your back.

mathur.megha3@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 12:39:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-supermom-trap/article29864274.ece

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