Pregnancy and parenthood change a woman.
“Being a parent changed our marriage”
There is no doubt about it. A woman goes through so much physically, emotionally, mentally and physiologically from the day she conceives a child. When a baby arrives, she goes through sleepless nights in repeated cycles of two hourly activities from changing diapers to feeding to washing; on top of healing and trying to take care of themselves.
The unspoken fact is that this cycle does not really break, even after several years. Seldom, we hear of mums who could sleep through the night with good 6-8 hours of sleep in their child’s first years.
What we don’t realise is also that parenthood changes our identity as a person.
New mothers don’t instinctively become nurturing – nor is being loving and caring naturally built in us. If anything, it is more of an individual’s characteristics than something that is built-in in all females. We learn to pick up from cues and cries through multiple episodes day in day out – to know whether it means hunger or soiled diapers. It is through learning from the multiple trials and errors, observations and reflections when we painfully give birth to a life and protect them so carefully.
One learns to be stronger, and more resilient when children are sick at home and work still needs to be done.
We learn to pick what our priorities are and ignore the noise – how we are judged for our parenting, for instance
We rise from falls and failures faster because we want to be good role models to our children.
Parenting is tough, and exhausting.
Modern-day parenting is even tougher as we learn about impact of our generational parenting effects and aims to parent our children differently.
A mother also learns to protect their children from unhealthy upbringing and cultural values, braving stereotypical scripts of “This was the way you were brought up and you’re fine!” or the conventional ‘ways of how children should be’.
In today’s world, it is more than just ensuring our children are fed and safe.
As mothers, we are expected to do more by cultural and societal expectations – to hold dual or even multiple roles in family and society; and and be more of everything – to be present, successful and doing it all.
We are exhausted and tired emotionally all the time. It is so tough – even with adequate domestic support, it never feels enough because we are constantly pouring from our cups without enough time and space to refill.
Constant exhaustion and repetition changes us in so many aspects too; from the way we perceive and feel about ourselves, how we communicate and relate, to how we think the family roles and dynamics should be.
On top of that, when children become our primary focus of needs, comparing to our partners who can look after themselves., it’s easy to put our relationships in the backseat.
Parenting can be done together
A supportive partner is not quite enough. We don’t need spouses who just simply say “tell me what to do and I’ll do it” – we need equal partners who share equal role and responsibilities in this new phase of life.
Unfortunately, most fathers are present only in the child’s initial few months and they resume ‘normal’ routines afterwards. It is not culturally or socially expected of a man to parent their child – often times, being advocated unnecessarily as supportive help.
No wonder, most times, we think about wanting out most times.
Marriage and family are not exclusive to each other; they are one and we need all parties to work together.
It’s not just a one woman’s effort – be it in marriage or a family.