Until a few years ago (though still persistent in quite a few places and quite high numbers), girl child was highly discriminated. She was not sent to school, she was made to do all the household work, she was married off early and forced to have children (many of them) early; and her life would pass by taking care of them and her husband and the in-laws. Yes, there were a few who would whine or complaint, some fewer who even revolted; but most of them got used to it and life just passed them by merrily.
But then things changed, people’s mindset changed and the gender bias reduced drastically. Though a lot of revolutionaries (in various pockets, in various forms) worked over the decades to get even basic rights for women, and on the whole the scenario quite substantially changed. By the time I was born and sent to school (which was late eighties), I faced no discrimination. I studied in a co-ed school and my parents never undermined any of my dreams and ambitions. And I pursued them all with full vigour and dedication. And did pretty well for myself.
And then, one fine day – I got married. Suddenly, I was put out of my comfort zone. My mother, was always there taking care of everything in the house, while I stormed victories at work’s battlefield. And marriage just changed that completely. And just that it wasn’t enough, I got pregnant and had a child. Oh God! No one ever warned me about what I was getting into!! Uffff! Not only was I taking care of the house and my life and many other things – I was entrusted upon with this huge responsibility of taking care of another life. And someone so precious and so little that you feel some other level of responsibility and love! At times I wonder what was I thinking during my pregnancy? I was just not prepared enough to have the child. Life just went 180 degree around. And when I speak to other fellow-mothers, they share the same feeling.
But the problem is not this – the problem is that when we go around discussing these things with other people (including our husbands) they just don’t get it! They all either wonder how can a mother feel like this or say something like this (she is supposed to selflessly love the child) or they think we are so self-centred to be worried about our careers (when raising the child is the most beautiful thing in the world) or worse even – they start pitying the woman because they think she is suffering from post-partum depression.
Yes, raising a child is the most beautiful thing in the world. But that doesn’t take away from us who we are (or were – so to say!). Imagine an MBA from some deemed University – she worked so hard for so many years, then paid a bomb to get into the premium MBA course and now has a world of opportunities waiting for her to explore (She probably still has the study loan she needs to pay off) – and she has a child – WHAT IS SHE SUPPOSED TO DO? How is she supposed to simply give up all of that and sit back home?
I was lucky that I was a free lancer and at a very interesting point in my career in film making, that I had the privilege to take the break. But what about those who can not do that? Or say who do not want to do that? Why do they always have to fight and convince people about what they are thinking and doing? Why is it that they have to justify the need of either a nanny or a créche or just simply a cup of coffee alone?
How many men extend their one week paternity leave and sit back home to change the diapers? Or give up on their gym routine? Or stop hanging out with friends? Or leave office on time just because they have a child waiting at home?
When our generation was being raised and we girls were told that we are equal to the boys and we must make the most of all the opportunities; we weren’t told that there was a time limit there – and that once we have children, it all changes! So the root cause of all this post-partum depression (in my opinion) lies in the bias – in the unexplained role of a mother – in the sheer nature of human existence where some things come without saying. Yes, the mother is the nurturer and so says biology as well. But, isn’t the mother a human first. And if she cannot be happy with herself, she wont be a good nurturer either. I don’t know if there exists any permanent and generic solution to this situation. Everyone has to figure their own. But what can be generic is that the male counterparts giving a listening ear and participate to help their wives deal with this phase of their life better!