Before I had BabyA, I lived life in my own school/college-friend-surrounded bubble where I hung out with people I had known all my life, who were like-minded. When I started mother toddler classes, I was introduced to a whole new, shocking world of mommies that I had not expected to stumble on.
I had always imagined that “mommy jeans” were named so because mommies had no time to be fashionable or fit. That’s why they wore high-waisted, ugly jeans that were comfortable and pushed their tummies in as much as something could.
The first day, I went into Music Together class, I walked in looking like the new mommy I was: stringy, sweaty hair, wearing tent-like clothes stained with food and fragranced with vomit (in my defense, both had happened on the way to class) and a 10 month old tucked under my flabby right arm.
What I saw as I walked into class was very different from what I had expected. The SoBo (South Bombay) mommies were nothing like I had imagined. There was a sea (ok- more like a stream) of moms sitting with their 3-4 year olds, looking fit and fabulous, dressed to the tees, gel nails and not a hair out of place. Who were these people? And soon enough, after striking a conversation with some, I found out that not only were they moms but a lot of them were attending class with their younger child. Weren’t moms of 2 supposed to look like something the dog dragged out on a rainy day? The only one who looked bedraggled was me!
I grew up in a house where my parents were very appreciative of the good things we did, and so we grew up being very secure children; perhaps over secure. Thus, I have spent my entire post-married life feeling very confident in my slightly overweight body, as long as I worked out every day (even if I never lost a pound). When I got pregnant, I felt like I had been handed a permit to eat-as-much-as-I-wish and I did, but luckily, I didn’t put on more than 13 kgs and after the baby, breastfeeding felt like BabyA was sucking all the fat out of me, because it left me 5 kgs thinner than my pre-pregnant weight. But then the feeding stopped and the “I-can-outeat-any-man” claims didn’t! My treadmill had turned into a baby clothes’ drying rack and I put on 5 kgs and then another 5! So when I walked into that class, I definitely had problems with my body image.
For the first time in my life, I was an alien in my own body. And seeing all these maternal freaks of nature around me, jiggling their size 4 butts to “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” didn’t help my confidence. But, more importantly, what it taught me was that moms don’t have to be unfit or self-negligent. I learnt that it was ok to prioritize myself sometimes, so that I felt good about myself. At that time, BabyA was still just that: a babe, so I couldn’t muster up too much free time but I went shopping and bought new clothes, because although I didn’t have the time to workout every day, I could at least not regress to my grungy-cool teenager look from college days at Xavier’s (the only SoBo college where the ‘bed-head, crumpled cargos’ look was cool). I invested in a straightener, for which I could spare the two minutes it took to transform me from Maa Kali to Durga Maa. And these little changes transformed my personality also such: into a less volatile and a happier mother.
Now that BabyA is 3 years old, she goes to school and so I get the time to workout and am trying to get back in shape- perhaps not to a size 4, because that was never me, but a shape that I feel happy being (as my husband teases that round is also a shape!)
Now, as I walk in to Music Together, I feel happy in my own skin: hair looks good, clothes smell nice (although they have been subjected to some mommy-dependency pulling by BabyA), a shoulder tote hanging from my better-toned arms (also since A now walks and doesn’t need to be carried around, there’s some space for a handbag), all brought together with a rediscovered air of confidence. I have transformed from an Egyptian mummy (trying to hide behind the bandages that covered up my unkempt appearance due to an unhealthy and unquestioned lifestyle) to a self-assured Mummy.
All I can say is that I have this new generation of moms to thank, for teaching me that it’s ok to slowly start taking out the time to unmummify myself. I know Maa Kali and Durga Maa are both goddesses but I assume, BabyA is a lot less fearful being around the calmer, softer avatar that I look like, and am, now.