( I wrote this as a column for Hindustan Times Chickwit in July 2010. I was a new mother then, although I feel as much of a newbie now)
Something is expected of women when they become mothers. They are supposed to turn into these calm, benevolent souls, anesthetized at some level to negative emotions like anger, greed, ambition, scorn, spite and other such, and instead acquire calming auras and kind bosoms that will forgive all.
No such luck with me. Although I did have some fleeting out-of-body experiences that belied my true self. So the husband is frequently nonplussed to find that my fangs are still as sharp, the mother continues to pray to her gods and goddesses to keep me calm and help me mind that tongue, the sister continues to soothe me with Reiki, the homeopath wonders why I am still keen to change the world and friends are constantly surprised to find that I haven’t lost my spunk and motherhood hasn’t changed me in a bad way.
Needless to say, I am a total misfit in mother-toddler groups where people ‘bond’ over song, dance and babies, and I always have this what-am-I-doing-with-these-women feeling. I don’t see women or individuals, what I see is a mommy blur, and what I hear is a non-voice. And then I realise how much more of all this there is to do, with playgroups, nurseries, play-dates, schools and whatnot. But the son loves my feistiness and my quirks, and flashes his million dollar smile in approval, so all is well.
I am reminded of a recent incident where my reluctant fangs were forced to be on display again. I receive a ‘to many’ email promoting a website that does reviews of mommy-baby products and is looking for “experienced mommy writers” to do them and purports to “pay handsomely” for your posts apart from showering you with freebies. I do something totally out of character. I hit “yes, I am interested.” Now I am not a freebie girl, but strange things happen when you become a mommy. For instance you buy a packet of chicken nuggets for he-who-loves-his-meat just because there’s a free Toy story toy tucked inside somewhere (which I still haven’t found by the way).
Back to the mass email. I get a reply saying that I have to send a sample review and if they approve it, I will be paid a princely sum of Rs 100 per review. Now, you will well understand why this could have aggravated me, so I will not go into that. What amazes me is the reply to my aggravation, which says that most moms do this not for the money, but for the greater good of the community, and how nice it would be to exchange information like this, and so may I please appreciate the larger purpose of the whole thing? What further amazes me is that not a single mommy on that list speaks up.
I pray for my fangs to retract. They don’t.