The New Mother
Grazia|March 2021
The pandemic has magnified the mental load on moms, but there’s hope
BARRY RODGERS
When her daughter’s school shuttered in March, last year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Preeta Sukhtankar, founder of The Label Life, adapted. The mother of little Aisha hunkered down in their home in Mumbai. Not only did she have the unenviable task of home-schooling her daughter, but she was also burdened by the stress of having to navigate the financial uncertainty her business was suddenly subjected to – employees, teams, structure, everybody’s feelings contributed to her becoming overwhelmed. The grind of parenting and working full time was relentless.

“The lockdown brought about this innate feeling of survival in all of us and what ended up happening was that every individual’s self-preservation mode switched on. Colour-coded schedules, lesson plans, and links to educational activities to keep children occupied and stimulated. It was an immediate, tacit acknowledgment that help was not on the way,” says Sukhtankar. On top of these issues, a few mothers I spoke to for this story say they face daily challenges from an increased mental load. I keep hearing the same thing: That we are drained from the constant (and heavy) decisions that we must continually make. While decisions are big, such as how to continue working when we have kids at home doing remote learning. Most worry about how the pandemic is affecting their kids’ mental health, considering they haven’t had a playdate in a while.

LOSE THE GUILT

Guilt has been an overriding emotion for Saaksha Bhat, co-founder of homegrown boho-luxe fashion label Saaksha & Kinni. “Recently, a group of moms commented that I was one of the few mothers who did not accompany my child to the outside play area. It is a ritual that all new mothers abide by in my complex – two hours every afternoon is when all the toddlers mingle with each other (both maids and parents tag along). Hearing them pass comments is deafening, but as a working mom, you can’t leave work in the middle of the day – pandemic or no pandemic. It’s easy to give in to the guilt but it’s essential to realise that working moms are just as amazing as stay-at-home moms. Another strong emotion that resonates with Bhat is feeling guilty for feeling guilty. “A constant thought I have whilst working is that my son is in the next room playing without me. These recurring thoughts are distracting and lead me to then take breaks to go and check on him. This, in turn, hampers my workflow, and I end up feeling guilty for feeling guilty in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle,” she says.

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