A while ago, I had written a poem that described my thoughts and fears about becoming a mother. I shared the poem recently on my blog, and it soon became the post with the highest number of hits on the blog. Each word of that poem is true, and I think a lot of mothers could relate to it.
The truth is, we all look at our mothers like this huge encyclopedia, this omniscient entity, this kindest soul, this epitome of all things right with the world. But maybe, just maybe, every mother started out like me – scared and clueless. Perhaps mine did too, though it is hard to imagine it! Perhaps yours did too.
My cluelessness caused me to fret about everything in the beginning. My son was the very first baby I had ever held. When I looked at his oh-so-tiny fingers, I freaked out seeing his skin was peeling a little bit. My doctor told me that was nothing to worry about, and most newborns are born with skin like that. Interestingly, every time I freaked out over something trivial, I only learnt it was something that “happens to all babies”. But still, like all mothers, my baby was the apple of my eye, the perfect little angel, and I fretted a lot and fretted some more.
Seeing my ridiculously sorry and clueless state, the doctor reiterated, that I needn’t worry about the skin, that I should apply some natural oils, like coconut or olive or almond and give the baby regular massages. I asked her if I could use any of the baby oils available in the market (as a new mom, obviously I had received several bottles of baby oil, baby powder, baby lotion, baby wipes, whatnot as presents from friends and family). She said a firm “No”. I didn’t question her, but I didn’t believe her either. I thought if a product was available exclusively in the market for babies, then that would definitely be better than any other “natural” oil, right? But just like my doctor, elderly relatives also advised me to use natural oils. I still didn’t believe them, dismissing their advice as old wives’ tales (yup, that’s what I thought of my doctor too, believe it or not!) But then my brother showed me several articles online about the harmful effects of the oils I was planning to use. Read this one for instance; it’s more recent than the ones my brother showed me.
Of course, it is the curse of my generation to believe all things online but nothing that an elderly person tells you. How coolly I disregarded the words of my DOCTOR but believed the same things when SOMEONE online said it. But either way, fretful mother that I was, switched immediately to olive oil.
The first thing I noticed was how much cooler and soothing it felt while massaging it onto my son’s skin. It seemed lighter, less “artificial” (well, duh!) somehow. There were people who taught me the right ways to massage a baby’s skin, to strengthen the bones and straighten the limbs. Do it right, and the baby enjoys it too. I remember the earliest days, when he yet hadn’t learnt how to laugh, but had a serene, pleasant expression on his face every time we gave him an oil massage. What could make a mother happier?
Of course, as a new mother, you get lots of advice – from everyone. And I do mean, a ton of advice! Suddenly, everyone considers themselves an expert. This will annoy you, for sure. But don’t dismiss all of it because you think the person’s advice is outdated for this day and age. There’s a reason they know the things they do, and it has worked superbly for them in the past. And you don’t really have to be a rocket scientist, or blindly depend so much on the internet (as I have admitted I did) to know that natural is, any given day, better than artificial.