When you have younger siblings they almost become your children. They think of you as a sort of parent. So when I informed them I was pregnant they had so many apprehensions about me having a baby. Mainly they worried that they wouldn’t be my babies anymore. They were just learning to share me with a whole new family (my husband’s). They were not ready to share me with anyone else just yet. Like me they had very little idea what was in store for them!!
Amongst the madness of me becoming a mother and parents graduating to grandparents, there were my siblings who were promoted to aunts (maasis) and uncle (mamu).
Motherhood was as new to them as it was to me. As we drove home from the hospital my sister made sure the new mom came home with the baby in her arms; he was mine first. Even though he was everyone else’s too, he was still mine first. My siblings were always around helping, laughing, joking, never over-stepping. Maybe because they knew as little as me, maybe they dint know any better than me. But it was such a relief. Such a relief to have someone not dishing out unwanted advice and unnecessary comments. Such a relief, not having to change a diaper or dress the baby with those judgmental & over-correcting eyes over my shoulder. Maybe those eyes could not help it, I’m sure they always meant well but as a new mother it made me very nervous and uncomfortable.
Once the baby came I realised everyone felt it their duty to teach me how to be a mother rather than let me discover it on my own. The list of advice was never ending. From what I should eat to what I shouldn’t feed the baby, to the homemade medicines and the nazar utarna (warding off evil) I have heard it all. And I’m sure I have a lot more in store, as my little one is all of one and a half years old.
Everyone is simply trying to be helpful, key word being everyone. When there are too many people telling you how to raise a child, it is simply overwhelming for a new mother.
But with my sisters it was different. All they did was admire their nephew and me. They were amazed by his every little move his large ears, his tiny hands and his lazy yawns. They were discovering motherhood with me and it was so comforting. For every time some aunt told me I was holding the baby wrong – I had a ‘don’t worry you’ll figure it out’ look from them. Every milestone he achieved was always a little late in comparison to some other kid, but my siblings let me celebrate it with much excitement and enthusiasm, isolated from any comparisons. They gave no advice just support. Maybe it was the fact that they knew as little and me but they were always impressed by my mothering skills.
It is from them that I have learned what unconditional support is. They did not want to mother my boy. They did not help when not asked and they did not pass judgment when not required. They cheered me on for doing a good job, cried with me when I was lost and celebrated with me for the silliest achievements. The positivity I receive from my siblings will always be a highlight of my journey. And that is what I needed many times, most of the time.
Like most other new moms I had my insecurities and doubts, but they always made sure to let me know I was doing fine. Every new mom needs that. She does not need you to constantly point out her mistakes; she needs to know you made those same mistakes. She may not need constant admiration but neither does she need the constant advice. She needs to know you did not have it all figured out. She wants to enjoy the journey of motherhood, not stress about which way is right and what is wrong. She wants to make her own mistakes and learn from them. So let’s not dole out unnecessary advice but instead share our worst parenting moments.
Yes mother of three you may know it all now, you must be doing a fabulous job considering how you have so much time to point out what I am doing wrong. But I am not ashamed to admit I am still learning. My house is a mess and my cooking may not earn me any Michelin stars. But I am not aiming to be featured in Good Housekeeping. All I’m aiming to be is a good mother to my child.