Motherhood makes you judgmental!

Anybody read Madam De’s latest post? The furor in the comment space is largely over just one part of the post – the bit about admiring Anjali Tendulkar for giving up her career to be the perfect homemaker, wife and mother. But Ms. De also talks about other stuff – bringing up a hugely popular celebrity’s kids in as normal a manner as possible, staying out of the media glare etc. – that I too find admirable. I wonder why no one’s talking about that!

Anyhow, I don’t agree with the homemaker bit at all. To stay home with the kids, juggle family and work, remain a DINK couple, or even not marry at all – is each individual’s personal preference. What makes you happy could make me miserable! So it’s futile to argue over which is the best choice.

It’s hard to say what Ms. De was thinking when she wrote this post. Was it meant to be a cheeky piece pretending to admire while gently poking fun at the so-called ‘perfect wife’? Was it, as I heard someone suggest, a PR advert? Or was it a genuinely fawning fan-post, never mind the seemingly regressive statements like – “The Perfect Wife, who has understood her position in marriage (secondary)…”? Who knows! Or more importantly, who cares! But her post did get me thinking.

Now that I am myself a mommy-to-be, I find myself forming some strong opinions on child-rearing, a departure from my completely non-judgmental stance before. I still don’t judge those who choose not to have kids, but once you do, these are a couple of no-nos in my books nowadays:

Choosing not to breastfeed because we need to get back to work. I keep reading about the lifelong health benefits of breastfeeding for both mommy and baby and I wonder how could a few month’s pay/seniority/career growth/mental stimulation possibly weigh against all of that? Remember that bit about health being our greatest wealth? We spend nine months trying to eat right and natural for the baby and end up feeding it an artifical food later! Of course, some moms are just not able to breastfeed and that’s a completely different scenario. But wanting to get back to work in a hurry ‘because we need the money’ or ‘I’ll go crazy staying home all day’ – I don’t buy that. In most cases, finances can be adjusted for a few months I think.

In my case, I plan to breastfeed for as long as I can (although those tales of cracked and sore breasts give me nightmares) and everything else will just have to align itself around that!

My former non-judgmental self butts in: A possible solution might be to express breast milk for when you are in office. But a lot of my friends tell me that this does not work for too long and you end up feeding the baby formula anyway. If someone has a different experience, I’d love to hear from you!

Asking grandma and grandpa to stay over and look after baby. Now this is a common occurrence with desi couples in the US and no one seems to find it amiss.Β  I can understand if you’ve stayed in a joint family all along. In that case, you take the good with the bad. But this is different. Parents and in-laws come over for the delivery and stay back for months on end.Β  I always wonder how comfortable the grandparents feel with this arrangement? Sure, everyone knows grandparents dote on grandkids, but don’t they have a life of their own back home too? Don’t they get lonely alone all day at home in a strange land? And don’t they sometimes wish they had been invited over before baby came along, just to visit or have a nice time? Finally, how do the new parents manage to bond with the baby if grandma’s always around to take care of everything? Not to mention the practical difficulties – how do you enforce your parenting rules when you are not the ones doing the parenting?

Again, in our case, my mother plans to stay with us for a couple of months when I’ll need her the most, but beyond that I know she’ll be itching to go back home and we wouldn’t ask her to stay back either. Sure, we’ll very likely struggle to handle baby by ourselves for the first few weeks, but hey, baby’s going to be a part of our little family and the three of us will just need to get used to each other!

My former non-judgmental self butts in: Perhaps I am being too harsh here? If the grandparents and parents don’t mind, who am I to complain? But somehow this practice makes me very uneasy. What do you guys think?

And that brings me to the familiar stay-at-home versus work-outside-the-home mommy argument. I am still a fence-sitter on this one. As long as mothers stay home with their babies in the initial few months when babies physically need mommy, I don’t see a reason for women to give up their dreams and ambitions for their kids – unless they wish to do so. After all, kids will grow up and get busy with their own lives someday. What does that leave mommy with?

But yes, younger kids need a lot of time and attention. And after a certain age, a dad can probably meet that need just as well as (and sometimes better than) a mom. Again, each family needs to sit down and work out what suits them best I think. Perhaps one parent can choose to work part-time or from home. Or perhaps you will be amongst the blessed few to find a loving caregiver nearby or a day-care right in the office!

As for me, I am still undecided. I just know my impending motherhood is a great time to re-examine where I am headed. Am I happy doing what I am doing? Would I be just as happy ten years down theΒ  line? Nothing like a baby to jolt you into some major soul-searching!


18 responses to “Motherhood makes you judgmental!

  1. Hey JNM,

    I can feel you getting tensed or over thinking as the days come close. But believe me, do what feels right to you and go by your instincts. The questions you ask are definitely worth thoughts. When you have the baby you would always want the best for it. When you have to go back to work after the maternity leave, you would want to leave the baby in the best hands ever. And naturally it can be the grandparents unless they are not really able to take care. I know of one friend who did not wish to keep her parents for long as they had busy schedules back home ended up not finding the right hands to care and thus had to keep her mom for the whole 6 months. She later found a nanny but then the grandparents were really keen on seeing the baby time to time they ended up having the inlaws and parents alternate visits. It just depends, i would say do what is best for you and the baby.

    Me: Hmm… if the grandparents are really keen to help out and the parents don’t mind ‘handing over the parenting’ so to speak, I guess it’s okay. Me – I just don’t feel comfortable doing that for my baby.

    Breastfeed, completely agree with ya. Do as long as you can support to. Initial few days and weeks are tough but it gets better.
    Stay at home and work outside is something which gets debatable life long and not sure what works best for the baby. My daughter expects me to be home as she returns from school and feel sad on that part and i like my job too. I do what i can to keep her happy.
    I had read this Shobha De’s post earlier and was distraught reading the comments. I am happy if it is a lady’s choice and she being a professional(doctor) gave up on her own to take care of the kids and give them a normal childhood far from media etc. It takes enough courage and self discipline to do that. But I do not feel that every woman needs to do that for her kids again depends on situation.

    Me: Right. And it’s no use holding her up as an ideal example either na? What worked for her may not work for others!!!

  2. Good Qs D!. They are things that one needs to ponder over. I know I did.

    Let me start with expressing breast milk. That was the only way I could feed my babies. They didn’t latch on, I didn’t try too hard. Either way it worked for me. As for soreness, you learn to be smart to avoid that stage.

    Me: Oh, I am glad it worked for you! You are the first person I’m hearing this from. If you don’t mind, can you share how long you could do it…

    Parents staying over. It is a thin line and a really thin one at that. If you never forget that they are doing this as a BIG favor to you, I think it can be managed too. I relocated to India and still have either one of my parent staying with me, bcoz *I* need them.

    Me: I like the way you think about this. Yes, it is a huge favor really. For they are done with their share of parenting na? πŸ™‚ And also, it’s very different when you are in India I think. There the parents have the freedom to come and go as they please, they have scope for a social life of their own, domestic help to take care of the little things…

    But I still wonder about the ‘enforcing your parenting rules part’ – do you and your parents agree about everything to do with the kids? How do you manage conflicts if any? Again, only if you don’t mind sharing…

    SAHM Vs Working outside, I think it is a custom fit. Whatever works, works. I too am sitting on the fence about that.

  3. JNM, a liked this post a lot. Why because it really goes well with my thought process when I become a mother. i have some thoughts already in place for that future person in me…a mother !

    I strongly believe that parents should be the ones to groom and look after the children primarily. Grandparents should be there to guide and help.

    Me: My thoughts exactly!!! You summed up half my post in 2 lines… πŸ˜€

    Since I have this experience of finding my mom home after returning from school every single day and to listen to my jabber about school stuff…I would like to give the same caring and attentive ear to my children…the papa can do his job in the evenings when he comes πŸ™‚ like my dad always did πŸ™‚

    This way i think the children are more rooted and connected with the parents…also the parents don’t miss on things like that single first step taken by the child or the first word uttered by the child…I surely for one don’t want to be told that my child did this or that at the end of the day… I want to experience it myself πŸ™‚

    Me: Sigh! So true!!!

  4. Hi JnM,

    This is the first time on your blog.. Bumped into it from a blog roll on one of my frequently visited bloggers.

    Me: Welcome Rads! πŸ™‚ But you didn’t leave your blog url… please do if you come back and read this!

    I must say the title drew my attention and you have literally penned down my exact same thoughts. Very nicely articulated. The SAHM vs WOHM is something that is running on repeat mode forever at the back of my mind. Being a techie in a constantly changing IT world, I am concerned if I can ever return back in full competence after a long break. But I dont know if it is worth spending time away from my child and not be able to witness all their milestones myself.

    Me: That’s how I used to think too. Unfortunately, the decision-making time is nearing for me now and I’m still not sure! 😦

    Sigh, I can hardly seem to make a decision on this one.. Hoping to find get some fresh thoughts and ideas from this comment section..

    You have a wonderful blog.. I am sure to keep visiting your space regularly.. TC

    • Hey JnM..

      I dont have a blog.. I just enjoy others blog.. Mostly mommy blogs of late πŸ™‚

      Me: Oh, ok! I don’t know why I got that impression… πŸ™‚

  5. I read Shobha de’s blog and yes her post was double sided. I definietly had emotions raging in some areas and in some places, it made perfect sense.
    I have read your post, being a not so new mom myself… i think to soem extent you are right in saying that as parents we become judgemental, but my preference would be to say, that as parents we become more defensive of our choices. We justify more, we explain more and we discuss more: But i do contradict with your views a bit!

    My take on the three points you raise:
    Breastfeed: Medical and other complications aside, i am all for nursing the child for as long as humanly possible! Agreed. My personal experience, my darling V would love breast milk, but would not nurse. I had to for all the 8 months of feeding her, express milk every three hours and feed her. Yes it was hard! But i did manage a full time job with it. I gave up nursing, since i dried up, simply said. So its possible to work it one way or other if you try!

    Me: That’s encouraging. I was actually looking for exactly such experiences… πŸ™‚ But the friends who advised me against expressing gave the reason you mentioned – drying up – except that it happened a lot earlier for them. I am not sure if there is a connection though. They seemed to think there was.

    Grandparents: I guess i cross on this one. Yes, if the grandparents are okay with it, why bother. Other side, in our case. We have been trying to convince my inlaws to come visit us for the past few years. They only came after we had a baby! They very happily say, we are here for the baby and not you. my daughter V- is part time home with them, and part time in day care. It works for us. Yes, after they leave, she is back on full time! They dont question our rules, our thaughts on V’s upbringing. But they cannot imagine not playing with her while she is young.

    Me: Hmm… you are lucky to have such understanding and supportive in-laws in that case. I am really glad it worked out for you. In our family, even my parents will have their own strong views I think. Just last week, I was discussing sleep training techniques with my mom and she was horrified to think we’d let a crying baby cry for a while! πŸ™‚ So you see… And once they are doing the actual caregiving it is harsh to ask them to do things our way I think, especially when they have a strong contrary opinion.

    SAHM versus Workign moms: The arguments are endless, both sides reason well. There is no one formula that works for all. While we were pregnant, i could not imagine being a working mom. But much to the insistence of my husband and inlaws, and a short break, i got back to work. Now, i love my balance (Well trying to balance) the work life, the house life and ensuring our daughter is exposed to all possible activities age appropriate.

    On a side note: Right now, i do think once V starts her pre-school, shcool i will be part time. Be home in time to ensure i am there to help her with homework, to be around to listen to her. For now, for the toddler years, i am happier when i see her interacting with 10 other kids and adjusting beautifully to life.

    Me: Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it. It’s wonderful for new moms like me to hear these different experiences…

  6. I do not have any personal experience with this. I do however know three women who went back to work but still breast fed. One of them had to also suffer from rather severe diet restrictions – no wheat, no alu, no gobi, less rice, no salads since it made the baby gassy if she ate anything that was not on a rather short list. It might however depend a lot on how flexible work is etc though so it is very hard to make a call.

    One other thing – Again I have no experience with this but i so think happy parents make the best parents. If staying at home makes you miserable I can’t find it in my heart to judge that person.

    Me: Hmm… interesting. You know, I actually agree with you on that. Nothing worse for a kid than a grumpy parent!

  7. I read the shobha de piece. I have to say it is a condescending article. The article somehow implies that for a doctor to quit her job and stay with kids forms a persona – that wears “dowdy” garments and understands that her position in the marriage is secondary.

    Me: Hehehe… exactly!

    If motherhood, family etc is chosen by a woman especially one who does not have to worry about the financial aspect of a marriage ( so there is no guilt involved in having the spouse bear the entire burden of providing for the family) – it is still frequently treated with such condescension. This definitely contributes to women rushing back to work even those who might consider being a homemaker otherwise. Who would willingly want to fall under this category. The article takes an accomplished woman with an accomplished husband and two children and somehow still make the woman slightly pitiable. That is a little ridiculous.

  8. Hey, woah, look at you! I don’t visit for a wee while and I find you’ve gone and gotten yourself knocked up. πŸ˜›

    Congratulations. Speaking as one who demand fed for months and breastfed till my son self-weaned 14 months (I think, may have been more), I’d say just hang in there for the first one month. It’ll seem like you don’t have enough milk, that your baby’s hungry all the time, that it hurts too much, but it all settles down as your body gets used to it.

    Me: Thanks Sue. That’s the most balanced advice I’ve received on this topic so far. Telling it like it is but still encouraging… Thanks again!

    I’m not commenting on the arguments. Life’s too short.

  9. Hello JnM,

    I’d suggest reading “Nursing Mother, Working Mother ” ( . There are many women out there, who have nursed their babies and still worked full time (if that is what you want to do!) .

    Nursing follows a “demand and supply” cycle. So the more you nurse your baby (on cue, or “on demand” as its more often called) , the more milk you will produce. It takes around 6 weeks for your milk supply to stabilise, so if you have problems with latching, sore nipples etc, pls dont give up -instead get help . La Leche League is the best place to be and you will definitely be able to find a group close by(since you live in the USA). I would suggest getting in touch with the closest group, even before your delivery, so tat you can educate yourself better. Breast feeding is a skill and it is a great help if you are better informed about the whole process.(you can avoid lots of self -doubt and heart ache, believe me!) You might also meet several like-minded mothers there and it is great source of help to have them support you.

    I nursed my daughter for 27 months and this is one of the best gifts she would ever receive from me. I had problems getting her to latch on, but with good advice, support from family and sheer persistence , everything fell in place. We never looked back, after that. We traveled a lot – to India and elsewhere – and she hardly fell sick .The biggest plus side – I never had to worry about running out of food for her πŸ™‚

    Hope this info helps you. Good luck , enjoy your pregnancy and wish you a safe delivery.


    Me: Wow, this is really very useful info KA. Thanks for sharing. I will check out the group you mentioned.

  10. I had bookmarked you several months back and lost track with no updates in between. Got a chance to check today.

    Great thinking aloud post. First of all congratulations on the pregnancy and best wishes πŸ™‚

    Me: Thanks Lakshmi! Good to see you back…

    I had to pump for my second child due to some issues and there is a wealth of information and support group in ivillage boards. I was surprised to see that my milk production was double what my baby needed. You can freeze milk and use for several months and even donate. So check out pumping options if you get a chance.

    Me: Wow, really? You are the first person telling me this. Thanks for the info!

    I am totally upto getting grandparents help if they are willing and healthy. Again my husband thinks opposite, so does not work long term for us.

    SAHM or WOHM is totally a personal choice, no one can or should judge.

  11. What am I to do now that you are all mommy mommy on your blog… how does one who has no idea whatsoever comment…

    ..maybe they just type in inane things like me πŸ™‚

    ..but love the fact that you are taking us with you on this roller coaster ride

    Me: Arre… I am no mommy mommy types… I don’t really know much about this mommyhood thing either. Just trying to stumble my way through! So no tension yaar! πŸ˜€

  12. JnM stumbled to your blog and have to comment on this.
    I took six months off from work when my little one was born and exclusively breastfeed her. (Cracked breast and all don’t last a long time and you can take care of things before they get bad.) Since I got back to work I express milk at work and breastfeed when I am home. And plan to continue till she turn one. Expressing is a little painful but you get use to it, so can be done.
    My parents came over once I started work and it was a mutual decision. They wanted to help and we are thankful to them every day. They take care of the lil one while we are at work. We take over once we are back so that they get a chance to do stuff they like. Mom does her puja and yoga. Dad’s catches up on news. They go for long walks. So we are trying our level best to make their stay as comfortable as possible.

    Me: That’s a nice happy medium I’m sure! Glad it works out for you…

    As for the Stay at home vs. working mom issue, that is something I am struggling with and will have to make a decision when my parents leave. We have a daycare picked up for Buzz but will have to see how things work out and how I feel about the whole thing.

    Me: I can understand… it is a tough choice to make for all of us.

  13. Nt very sure .. but I think I hv visited u before .. the name sounds very familiar πŸ˜›

    Here from the baby shower blog … congrats JnM and wish u gud luck πŸ™‚
    God bless u all πŸ™‚

    And this post .. I think u put across what most probably all Moms go thru na .. I am nt sailing this boat as yet, but hv heard the same queries from so many of my friends …. loved reading the post and the comments πŸ™‚

    Me: Your name sounds familiar too! πŸ™‚ Thanks Swaram!

  14. OMG! you disappeared for some, and i kept checking! then i didnt look you up and what do i see when i get back!! awesome!! congrats girl!! i am really happy and excited for ya!! πŸ™‚

    hope you been having a fun pregnancy! πŸ™‚ how much longer to go? take good care of yourself!

    Me: Thanks Abha! Yeah, I have been away so long, I think a lot of folks gave up on me. 😦 But hey, you are back!!! πŸ™‚ Thanks! I am having fun, yes. The funnest part so far is the baby kicking… πŸ™‚ 3 months to go now. It feels too short already!

    about the Q’s you put up! yup breast feeding is important! but then after going thru a horrid time with it, i am all symapthies! hehe!

    i dont like calling grand parents to child care either. i defi think its selfish. i mean our parents spend all their lives taking care of us and then our kids! yeah i would ofcos love to have someone around while i work, but frankly i would rather take care of it meself over a long period of time. i also hate the other end of the spectrum where grand parents absolutely refuse to help saying you treat us like servants! duh!

    going back to work! well, to ecah her own! i dont think anyone has any right to get judgmental about that as long as the parents know what they are doing! πŸ™‚


  15. πŸ™‚ congratulations babe. you’re all grown up now, talking about breastfeeding and expressing! I can still remember my early visits to your blog. oh well – i guess it wasnt so long ago i was as excited a new mommy as you.

    God bless and give you a safe pregnancy, and answers to all your Qs.

    Me: Yeah, I can imagine how it must feel to you. I was newly married and just 24 when I started reading your blog!!! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the warm wishes MM.

  16. Hello, Chanced upon your blog! Congratulations on the new arrival. I hope the breastfeeding is going well. I have a 16 month old and I work from home full time. My daughter went to daycare since she was 4 months old. I expressed milk for her during the day and she nursed through the evening and night. I still nurse her on-demand though it is only 2-3 times a day. Expressing milk is good and easy if you stick to a schedule and use a good breast pump. Keep your baby’s photos and videos at hand to encourage let down. if you work is mother-child friendly, you can do it for as long as you please. I stopped pumping when my daughter was 1 yr old. start pumping before you go to work so that you can collect a stash and get the hang of it. I cannot stress much on using Lansinoh regularly to help with soreness!

    I am blessed to be able to work from home. But I am a working mom as my daughter is at daycare full time while I work. It is a trade off but if you find the right daycare you will see the benefits – kids are more social, have more friends and gain a lot from socializing with their peers.

    All the best and enjoy the ride!

    Me: Thanks for sharing your experience Poonam. It’s very interesting. I have an option of working from home for two months after my leave ends. It will be a good trial period to do as you suggest. Thanks for commenting again.

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