It's Mother's Day and we are all witnessing heart-warming messages on the sacrifices mothers make to keep their children and families happy. Certainly, such an acknowledgement is necessary but such gestures must also be accompanied by a desire to change the status quo.
That is, make it easier for mothers to live their dreams, get sleep, and stay energetic. Love, as a wise person once said, is a verb; it should be displayed in action, the willingness to do.
In our country, as in many other societies around the world, parenting is often considered to be the mother's sole duty. Seen those jokes about how fathers take care of babies when they are entrusted to their care? The baby ends up eating pizza and drinking water out of the toilet bowl. The fumbling is 'cute', but frustrating when experienced first-hand. It is also prematurely dismissive of what a father can contribute towards the upbringing of the child.
Such attitudes can be quite problematic in reality. Take, for instance, the amount of sleep mothers get. Young mothers are extremely sleep-deprived. The numbers are slightly higher for older moms but still well under the recommended sleeping hours of 7 hours a night.
When a woman becomes pregnant, it is tradition in India that she is sent to her to maternal home so she can get adequate rest and care. Indeed, many women prefer this arrangement, considering the skewed division of labour in most households. Though this means the woman is assured of reasonably good care, the father ends up being removed from the equation from the beginning
The changes that occur in a woman's body and mind as she goes through pregnancy and childbirth are tremendous. From stretchmarks, nausea and heartburn to muscle pulls, mood swings, shooting blood pressure, diabetes, body pain and sheer exhaustion. Many men miss out on witnessing these developments, often losing an opportunity to form closer bonds with their spouse and unborn child.
A supportive partner, who has been with the woman from the time of conception, is more likely to be empathetic about the situation and give the new mom the time she needs for herself. He is also more likely to be vigilant about conditions like postpartum depression, picking up cues without needing to be told explicitly about the issues confronting her.
Motherhood is often glorified with labels of divinity. But moms are ordinary human beings who need all the help (and sleep) that they can get. This means we need to make it easier for a woman to go through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood both at policy and personal levels. This is not a favour we are doing women - there is a cost to bringing a child into this world and it must be shared by the community.
From creating equal and supportive workspaces to making fathers more involved, there are many things we can do to make Mother's Day a celebration rather than a reminder of the pressures of motherhood. By voluntarily participating in housework and sharing childcare responsibilities - be it burping the baby or changing nappies - men can make a big difference to the quality of their own lives as well as that of their partner's.
Let's acknowledge that we can do a lot more to empower mothers. Let's #EnergiseMoms by giving them what they truly deserve.
Watch the video below, and sign this petition seeking a law for mandatory paternity leave for fathers in India.
This article was created by The News Minute in association with Duroflex for the #EnergiseMom campaign.