Supermoms, not super humans

While COVID-19 has been raising a havoc on the physical, mental and emotional well being of billions of humans across the globe, it has in particular, been harsher to most women. 

Let’s talk specifically about mothers here, who are always under scrutiny ‘to be there to raise ideal children’. While there’s never an equal distribution of household responsibilities between parents, that gap widens when both are working as the father is still assumed to be busier, ‘as the sole bread-earner’. The virus has brought with it, unimaginable levels of stress for working moms where they’re spending endless hours on their laptops (WFH), home-schooling their kids and literally putting food on everyone’s plates (guess what, some of us have let go of our house-helps too). 

We occasionally hear stories of men helping out with household chores (that sums up with a rare youtube recipe or a weekly class with kids) but why is just “helping out” a big reason to give them a pat on their backs?
And the very reason to not hold men accountable for doing so, is conditioning. Women have always been conditioned, right from an early age, to be the caregivers—more responsible and sacrificing towards their family, whereas men have always been conditioned to be “out in the world”—earning livelihood for theirs. (That sense of ‘being busy’ doesn’t go away for men even in cases where their female counterparts may be earning way more). 

 Hence you come across the common scenario where most women quote, “focusing on their families” as a reason to quit their jobs because, not all of us, can live with the guilt (that society forces) upon us of being mothers who focused on their work and not their children.
Why do most mothers have to make this choice and not the fathers?
Why in the first place, is this an acceptable choice to make?
Why isn’t there equality when it comes to paternity leaves? (Maybe more men need to own up and ask for it?)

Speaking from my experience as a school counselor, I have always had mothers reach out to me in case they want to chat about their kids. In rare cases, they come with their male counterparts but even then, the onus ‘to make things happen’ is on the mothers. (You can see it from the dynamics in the room, even zoom rooms)

Anatomically speaking, women are anyway doing most of the work by bringing a child to life (I don’t want to get into the painful pregnancies, pre and post partum complications), why do we, as a society, amplify that manifold by putting mothers under surveillance, all the time?

As John Mitchell has very accurately quoted—“An unhappy mother cannot raise a happy child”. So I always tell the mothers whom I speak to—you are all humans. You are allowed to get tired; to not want to do anything at times; to take time out for yourself and have fun. Focusing on your own happiness is equally important and necessary. You all are already super moms, but you don’t have to be a superhuman all the time!

As a society, let’s accept the fact that ‘motherhood’ doesn’t mean unimaginably stretching one-self to the point where all barriers of physical and mental well-being break.
We need to talk more about the inequality that exists for mothers and ensure this ends.
As COVID-19 is a pandemic, so is inequality that has been existing in our homes since centuries.  


About the author: 

Nikita Virlley
{BA Psychology Hons, B.Ed., M.Sc. Psychology (Clinical)}

Nikita is a counselling psychologist and an educationist with an experience of 5 years in the field of mental health. She’s previously worked in a neuropsychiatric facility with adults and currently she is working at an international school towards early identification and intervention amongst primary school kids.
Certified in play therapy, she loves using art with her clients. She also enjoys painting, dancing and travelling.

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