Motherhood comes with challenges! Accept them and work through them. A mother speaks
Uma Sudhir, our guest blogger for this post, is the Executive Editor (South) at NDTV. She has been awarded the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist for the year 2017 by The Media Foundation. With a journalism career spanning nearly 28 years – 20 of them in television – Uma has covered some of the biggest news stories in south India and in particular the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Uma’s passion is reporting and writing on issues related to development, gender, education, agriculture, health, politics and environment.
Here she speaks about her life as a mother and career journalist.
- What do you think are the biggest joys of modern motherhood?
You get a second chance at childhood. No one looks at you as odd if you play catch once again in the park with your child, climb trees or jump into pools and ponds, do whatever you enjoy as a childhood joy. Not that I worry too much about what others would think, but if you were to do the same activity alone or with adults, people may think `iska screw dheela ho gaya' but if you do it with your child, you will be accepted as a happy, participating mom... So you could do trampoline jumping...
It also helps you get a direct firsthand connect with young people, what they do, how they think and operate... gives you a chance to reinvent yourself. Otherwise, it is so easy to get set in our adult ways, do things just the way we were doing for years. It could get boring, the comfort of familiarity, now you get a new perspective, and a reason to change and your child can give you support to change and adapt to new technology, you learn the ability to enjoy new things.
- What do you think are its biggest challenges?
You have to accept it ... you are a different generation, and you cannot really fully comprehend what your child is thinking and why she is acting or behaving the way she is. You have to accept every child comes with their own strong personality, and there are influences, like peers, who are going to be much stronger than you, as she grows up. You grow extremely anxious trying to get it all right. Because you are afraid for your child and are overprotective. You want the best for her and may tend to overdo it... You worry that you are either doing too much (and don't allow her to grow independent and make sensible choices) or do too little (after all with your extra experience and exposure, you could have guided better, could have done more hand-holding) etc. etc. etc... As with every generation, you worry whether you are doing all right by your child, after all, she is your most precious resource and investment... if you get this wrong, all else does not matter. But, am I getting over obsessive could be the fear at the other end of the spectrum.
- What were the special challenges you faced as a journalist who needs to chase stories and cannot stick to fixed working hours?
I am 24x7 on the job. What makes it worse is that my husband is even more committed and wedded to his work than me. I worry that I should be able to participate in joint activities that give joy to my child and help her grow and become a better human being, more balanced and happy, able to handle relationships and situations. One thing is about being on call all the time and sometimes not being physically available during exams etc. because there has been `breaking news' when the job takes precedence over all else. Another is being so immersed in your own work, that you are not fully paying attention to what your daughter is saying or doing, even when you are physically around. I can conveniently blame it on the nature of my job. But I think that is terrible. Firsthand involvement in your child's life is important.
The reverse is also true. My daughter tells me `thank god you are not a full-time, stay-at-home mom. `I like it better this way. Otherwise, you would be breathing down my neck'.
- Were there any particularly difficult moments in balancing journalism with pregnancy and motherhood?
After I found out I am pregnant, my first gynaecologist/obstetrician advised rest, told me the kind of work I do does not suit pregnancy, that I have pregnancy-related hypertension etc. The doctor I next consulted told me I could do just what I wanted to do and I would be fine. That is precisely what happened. High BP flew out of the window. The day I was in the hospital to deliver the baby, I saw myself on air, with the report that I had filed the previous day. So I worked literally till the very last day. It, of course, helped that my husband was in the same office, so he could sometimes step in and help out if some difficult travel was required, for instance.
I was breastfeeding my baby for 20 months, and I had gotten back to work within six months of the baby being born. So initially had some embarrassing moments of breast milk getting full and leaking while on the job etc. but those issues eventually got sorted out. Being a full-time journalist and also mom, at the same time, not wanting to miss out on the joy of spending time with the baby, seeing her grow, was certainly not easy. People say those are nightmarish days... the nappy days, the toddler days. But for me, those are days I dearly miss. Times of unadulterated happiness! I would have very much liked to have a second child, but because I am also a committed professional, the choice was made to have only one.
- Does your child ask you about your work? How much do you share?
My daughter does know about what I do and believes it adds to her understanding of issues and the world around her. Most of the times, she knows what I am working on, even if she does not know the details. I share my experiences with situations and people. I share my view on issues and why I think something is wrong or right. It gives us a chance to discuss issues, and without directly saying so, I think I pass on values, what I think is important in life, where one should take a stand, about being tolerant about different viewpoints and so on. Journalism gives you the privilege of peeping into many different kinds of worlds and I in fact like to take her along so she can get a first-hand experience, whenever possible.
- What tips would you like to share with other moms with demanding careers?
Consciously make time for your child, for the two of you to spend it together in a joyful, positive manner. Make it a happy memory for both of you. A tendency to use the little time you get together to sermonise and scold and point out faults may be counter-productive in the long run because only the bitterness and anger may remain, why you did it will never be understood or appreciated.
Try to be objective without being harsh on yourself. Don't allow your in-laws or husband or friends or daughter to send you on a guilt trip. Tell yourself you are doing your best. You are the best judge to what you can do for yourself and your child.
If you think being a stay-at-home mom is best for you and your child, be brave to choose it.
If you will be a depressed soul, with nothing exciting to say or do if you don't have your own work to do, then there is no point in you compromising on your career. It may be better for you to chalk out priorities on what is important to you and what is not. Realize that your life and your situation is unique. There is no comparison with anyone else. The only thing you should do is to maximise it in the best possible way.
We are happy to celebrate the hues of motherhood with all our guest bloggers this month.
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.