When I gave birth to my little angel and held his adorable tiny body in my arms for the very first time, I wished…I deeply wished that someone would have told me how incredibly inconceivably rewarding the journey of motherhood is.
I had been overwhelmed with haunted echoes of words and chants such as ‘it’s a thankless job’, ‘tiredness has a new meaning’, ‘you’ll get no sleep’, ‘enjoy your life before kids’ and ‘having kids takes the toll on your marriage’ amongst a cloud of other ‘advice’. Whilst some of these contain an element of truth, why is it that only a few people share all the fun, fascinating, rewarding stuff about bringing a child into this world? How bringing a child into this world can strengthen your marriage and other relationships, how its actually not the thankless job it is perceived to be and how it can turn your life upside down in the happiest of ways. Perhaps it’s human nature for people to find it easier to have a little grumble.
I am writing this to lend a different perspective to women and to offer some encouragement that I wish I had. Perhaps with some encouragement and guidance, I would have tried to have my first child earlier in my life and consequently not found it so challenging and frustrating to conceive a second. So…get yourself a cup of coffee and make yourself comfy if you would like to hear another side to the parenting adventure.
Like many women, I always dreamt of having 2.5 kids somewhere down the line, but each year conceiving a child was still at the middle or bottom of my list. After university, I wanted to build my career, travel the world, learn a new language, get married, strengthen my marriage, make new friends and live blissfully like I was still 21! Little did I realise that time had moved swiftly along, my body clock was ticking and I was suppressing my natural maternal instincts in pursuit of these other ‘more encouraged’, ‘well looked upon’ and ‘admirable’ goals.
I have come to the realisation that many of us are being subconsciously polluted by messages from the media and society around us discouraging us to be parents before 30 or even 35. Sadly, it is during or shortly after this time that many many couples fight silent fertility battles in the desperate hope that it’s not too late to be parents for the first or second time.
I have been fortunate enough to live in different countries across the world having friends from all walks of life with different upbringings. Through this I have discovered starkly varying attitudes towards having children. In some communities and social spheres, very positive and encouraging attitudes towards kids prevail. Kids are seen as an honour and blessing, the future leaders of tomorrow, a beacon of innocence and a hope to humanity. However, equally so, I have lived amongst communities and groups of people who see children as a life long sacrifice and an impediment to achieving their goals. Perhaps if motherhood was given the importance, respect and excitement it deserves by all societies and communities across the world, it wouldn’t be at the bottom of many women’s lists and neither would there be a growing number of couples facing these silent battles.
It was whilst holidaying in Kashmir with my husband that we devoted much needed thinking time to discuss whether we were ready to have kids. As per our tradition, we consciously divorced our laptops, mobile phones and worries and focused just on us and what we wanted our future to look like. I distinctly remember my husband enthusiastically reading a strikingly bright orange book called ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed. He would eagerly explain to me how Syed examines two types of people – those with a growth mindset and those with a fixed mindset. We came to conclusions about our own mindsets and it magically led to the topic of children as we were both curious to understand how each of us would raise our possible future kids. Perhaps it was the Kashmiri air and the fragrant saffron tea served in dainty cups that made me romantasice about seeing each other as parents and how having a child would be like having a little project of our own to work on as a partnership. Yes, strange way to talk about kids I know, but knowing what we want for our children (the future of tomorrow) is something that we still find integral and exciting in our role as parents.
Below is a list of advice I wish someone would have shared with me a long time ago:
We all do it whether we realise it or not . Try to catch yourself in the act one day and you may realise that you are comparing yourself to someone younger who is traveling the world or you may be comparing yourself to a good friend who is single and excelling in her career or perhaps you are comparing yourself to a cousin who got pregnant at 40. More often than not, these comparisons are meaningless because each woman’s maternal instincts, lifestyle and goals are different. It is only you who can listen to and evaluate your body and your maternal instincts in relation to your age, lifestyle, goals and relationships.
Have a plan and stop procrastinating
Having a plan is an essential ingredient to living a life that is meaningful and successful. Just as we meticulously plan our careers, work through our bucket list of places to travel and list things to accomplish, it is equally important to plan for children if they are part of a future you desire. By procrastinating, you may find yourself in a position where it is increasingly difficult to conceive as the years pass.
Coffee with a gynecologist
Well not necessarily coffee. You may ask why speak to a gynecologist when there is plenty of information available on the internet for free and there are a hundred different apps to help you identify when is the best time to conceive. However, in my experience it really does help speaking to a doctor in person especially if you are over 30, have any underlying health issues or have irregular cycles, all of which can impact the chances of pregnancy.
Clear your head
Making grown up decisions is much easier when you are away from the hustle and bustle of life, work and social media. Try to get away for a day or two and clear your heads to connect, think about and evaluate with you husband your individual views on parenting. If you can’t get away, even a couple of hours surrounded by nature helps to clear your head and inspire you to have ‘the talk’.
You can still dream, inspire and have a significant impact on the world with your children.
It is natural to want to achieve your dreams and to be successful but there seems to be a subconscious fear in many women today that having kids will inhibit their dreams from coming true. Again, this is probably due to the subliminal influence of a culture that promotes other goals and achievements and somehow fails to promote countless examples of successful, professional, inspiring women who are indeed mothers too.
You can still dream, inspire and have a significant impact in this world through children.
A respected friend once said ‘The youth are half of today and all of tomorrow‘. Parenting provides the opportunity to make a significant, positive impact on the world by giving children the values and foundations to build a better tomorrow. Each day as a parent, I create new dreams and pave new ways to give my child something of value that will help convert the slogan ‘making tomorrow a better place’ into a reality.
Deciding to have a baby isn’t a light decision but for many of us, it will require us to dive into the deep blue sea. We aren’t often told how beautiful the deep blue sea is and how much wonder resides in it – we are told it is ‘deep’ and ‘dark’. Unfortunately, that is exactly how having a baby was presented to me. On the contrary I have seen so much wonder and beauty in having little M in my life over these past three years that I almost want to scream from the top of my lungs for others to consider taking this wondrous and exhilarating journey into the deep blue, but certainly not ‘dark’, sea! Moreover, you may just find that ‘motherhood is the best job in the world’.