Guest post by Mumtaz Surani
Motherhood is a beautiful journey, but one that comes with several pressures. Our society believes that mothers have the superpower to handle anything and everything pertaining to their children single-handedly, and they are supposed to be responsible for them all the time. Due to these undue pressures and without a proper support system, motherhood can become stressful and at times depressing.
Driven by stereotypes, we have forgotten that mothers are humans too! In reality, they are experts at taking care of their children because they learn through experience, get the courage to operate endlessly due to the love for their little ones which also gives them the power to manage everything. Just because they do it all, does not mean that “they know it all” and no, they are not supposed to know everything.
Every little bad thing that happens with the kid, from falling down to throwing tantrums, from delay in milestones to weight issues, it’s the mother who is answerable for all. It is because of this attitude that mothers always blame and judge themselves and fear to admit that they didn’t know something about their child’s health and wellbeing. It is time that society accepts mothers as humans and gives them the much-needed space they deserve. At the same time, mothers should themselves understand that it’s absolutely ok to “Not know it all” and have the courage to say “MujheSabNahiPata”.
A message that touched my heart
I’m in love with this hashtag – #MujheSabNahiPata from All Out’s latest campaign that sends out the message that it takes a tough mom to admit that she didn’t know something about her child. I feel a sense of pride every time I say or type #MujheSabNahiPata. I feel relaxed and I can say it a hundred times!
I was lucky to attend an event organised by All Out for their campaign. I got a chance to listen to an insightful discussion between eminent personalities such as actor and mother Sonali Bendre, Ruchita Dhar, Founder First Moms Club (FMC), a mom community; Dr Rupal Patel, Child psychologist and pediatrician Dr Samir Dalwai. The panelists addressed the issue of societal conditioning that mothers in India have to go through. Sonali Bendre shared from her experiences that motherhood is not always the rosy picture the world paints it to be, and the constant struggle moms go through to raise happy, healthy and socially responsible children. The audience joined the discussion with a zeal. In a room full of mothers, judgement took a back seat, as each one of us shared our #MujheSabNahiPata stories without any hesitation.
The panelists during the discussion at All Out Campaign.
The discussion then steered to how in a world of constantly emerging threats mothers try their best to protect their children from all big problems but fall prey to a smaller issue like a mosquito bite, which could cause a fatal disease like Dengue. A digital short film developed for the campaign to capture the story of one such mother, who is tough enough to accept #MujheSabNahiPata was shown to us. Here’s the link of the film.
https://www.facebook.com/AllOutIN/videos/256425565275319/ which garnered more than 80 million views in the last one month since its release! It’s worth a watch! The event concluded with every mother tying a knot to their attire, just like old times, as a mark of reminder to always share their #MujheSabNahiPata stories.
On this lovely note, I would like to share a short #MujheSabNahiPata moment of my own.
Mothers posing their knots tied along with Sonali Bendre.
My #MujheSabNahiPata moment
I remember when Zaa (my daughter) was 5 months old and I was using a rocker for her, for the first time. My friend had lent the rocker to me and then decide if I needed one for us. When I put my baby in the rocker, I could see her gentle smile and the happiness in her eyes. Brimming with joy I carried the rocker to another room to see how we both would manage. However, I wasn’t aware that the rocker has a lock beneath it which is supposed to be fastened before carrying it around. If it is not locked, it keeps rocking and carrying it would flip the baby upside down. Unknowingly, I happily carried the rocker and in a fraction of second the rocker flipped and Zaa hit the ground hard, her head hitting the tiles!
She screamed and began crying. It was her first fall. I was a new mother and all alone at home (cons of being in a nuclear family). I had never seen Zara crying so hard and turning red with the screaming. Almost on impulse I picked her up and hugged her tight, my hands were shivering with fear; given the impact of the fall she was obviously not ready to calm down and I broke into a sweat.
Tears welling in my eyes and a wailing baby in hand, I began to wonder: What will my family say to me? How will my husband react? What do I do now? I panicked and called my elders. They panicked too. Then, someone knocked on the door and I rushed to open it. It was my masseuse (malish wali) who is old and experienced. As soon as I saw her, I heaved a sigh of relief and told her about the incident. She sensed me shivering. To my surprise, she reacted badly. She started yelling at me – Are you mad? How could you be so careless! You are a mother, you made the child fall? What if she gets mentally affected? You are insane! At this point, I couldn’t hold back my tears and I was red out of guilt. I didn’t know if my baby was ok due to the fall. What if she was hurt internally? How would I know that? All such questions started haunting me, but I had no courage to ask anyone. However, I was lucky that my husband took the incident quite calmly and didn’t overreact.
It takes a tough mom to say #MujeSabNahiPata.
I then managed to know all of the basic facts that #IDidntKnow, from my pediatrician. Here are the basic pointers she told me to keep in mind when the baby falls.
1. Always check the part of the baby’s body that was hit after the fall.
2. If it’s bleeding, try to stop the bleeding and rush to the doctor. If it’s not bleeding, then try massaging with an ice cube or cold-water bag to avoid the bump.
3. Try to soothe the baby as they cry. The sudden shock from the fall scares them. I thought Zaa cried because she was unbearable pain due to the fall! #MujheSabNahiPata.
4. The best way to check if the baby is fine and has no internal injuries is to breastfeed. If the baby denies the feed and does not stop crying, then you need to see the doctor. But if they accept the feed, then everything is fine. Also, breastfeed is the best way to calm a scared and wailing baby.
While it is okay to panic in such situations, it is time to gather confidence, look up and say #MujheSabNahiPata! when people scare and accuse the mother. I was relieved and slept peacefully that night after accepting that I didn’t know and after speaking to my pediatrician. It’s not a crime to not know everything.
Sharing our #MujheSabNahiPata stories will help other mothers learn from our experiences. I just shared mine. Hope it helps new mothers out there, even if it helps one mom, I will be more than glad to have written this. You can drop yours in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to read them. Afterall, it is the failure of one mother that prepares hundreds of others for a win!