All of us have often heard this quote, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother”. But does motherhood come with a manual? No, it doesn’t. Then why does the society expect that a mother should know everything, have answer to every question, and solutions to all the problems related to her children? Why have we forgotten that she is as human as anyone else and is learning every day from experiences?
Recently, SC Johnson’s All Out has launched a hard-hitting and brilliant campaign with a message that encourages mothers to say #MujheSabNahiPata. A short film, (https://www.facebook.com/AllOutIN/videos/256425565275319/ ) which appropriately captures a mother’s dilemma when her child suffers from dengue, catching her off-guard, has touched a chord with millions of mothers, across the country. The ad which is relatable to all moms who have had to face the pressures of societal conditioning has gone viral and within no time garnered over 85 million views.
It indeed takes a tough mom to say #MujheSabNahiPata because we are always susceptible to judgement, if we don’t know anything related to our children, and it gets worse if god forbid, anything serious happens to them. To further discuss this topic, All Out in association with First Moms Club (FMC) and Mom Junction organised an event where moms from various walks of life, with kids of various age groups, gathered to discuss about motherhood and yes #MujheSabNahiPata.
The event began with a panel discussion comprising Ruchita Dar Shah, Founder, FMC; Dr. Samir Dalwai, renowned paediatrician; Ms. Rupal Patel, child psychologist and parenting coach; moderated by Ms. Chandrama Deshmukh of Mom Junction. The cherry on the cake was the presence of celebrity mom Sonali Bendre on the panel who is the voice of the campaign. Sharing her story of being a mother she said that people expected that as a celebrity, she would have it easy with an army of help around her. But like all other moms, she had her share of anxiety and guilt while raising her son. Speaking about how the campaign is a platform for mothers to feel empowered, she inspired all of us in the audience to let go of our inhibitions and share more, so that together, everyone can grow as parents.
The moms in the audience opened their hearts to share their #MujheSabNahiPata stories. Some women shared poignant incidences where they spoke about how they were blamed and shamed for delivering babies through C-section, their inability to breastfeed and how they were accused of being negligent when their kids fell ill. Shah, being the founder of one of the largest online mom community, shared that the motive behind FMC was to create a platform where moms could share, ask, and vent without being judged. Apart from sharing his experience of meeting anxious moms as a paediatrician, Dr Dalwai also shed light on the often-missed signs and symptoms of dengue and tips that mothers can practice for staying more guarded from the disease. He also spoke about the reoccurrence of the disease and myths people have around platelet counts, fluctuating fever and children’s activity levels during dengue.
To me, the film and the discussion on dengue brought back bitter memories. A few years ago, when my son was diagnosed with this deadly illness, I went through hell as it was my #MujheSabNahiPata moment. Like all moms, I felt guilty as to why I couldn’t shield my son from this tough time. I wondered why despite me maintaining hygiene in the house, the virus affected my son. Something I didn’t know was cleared during the session when Dr. Dalwai mentioned that dengue-carrying mosquitoes breed in clean water and could infect even during daytime.
The crux of the discussion was that in a world of constantly emerging threats, it is okay for moms to not know everything and that they should accept this fact without fear and guilt. After all, parenting is an everyday learning process and moms discover new aspects of it with each passing day and year of the child’s life.
At the end of this wonderful session, all of us pledged to keep reminding ourselves and other moms that it is okay to not know everything, and it’s okay to admit #MujheSabNahiPata. We marked the pledge by tying a knot in our scarves and dupattas, a traditional practice followed by women to remind themselves of something that they may forget. I would urge you all to share your stories with each other in the comments section to be better prepared for the future.
I would like to sign off by saying, “Moms, if you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”
Last week, I was watching a movie from the 1960s. Some character mouthed the lines “Pati ke charnon mein swarg hain. Ab tumhara pati hi tumhara devta hai.” In the movies till 90s if a girl was raped or thrown out by her husband in a movie the only way out for the female character was to commit suicide. A female character who smoked, drank whiskey or wore provocative clothes was the vamp. In many movies, a working woman was shown in a bad light and was given lecture about “Indian sanskriti” and by the end of the movie the woman would be serving food, quitting her job, and shown to be “sanskaari naari.”
But of late, the movies don’t portray women in this way. I agree that “item songs” still objectify women, but any change in the society or movies takes time. In recent times, movies with female protagonists have been appreciated both by critics and masses and have become hits. Movies with strong female protagonists like Queen, Mardani, Piku, Pink, English Vinglish, Mom, Badla, Manikarnika, Raazi and such have worked wonderfully at the box office. Earlier we could cite only Mother India as one of the movies where the female protagonist was strong.
Today mainstream heroines are shown to be working, drinking and smoking without guilt, living-in, living independently, and women with strong mind. The fact that these films work is a good sign, sign of changing times. I agree still our country has a long way to go in terms of women empowerment, emancipation and gender equality. But let’s appreciate the positive change.
On the hindsight, many people are worried that our daughters will go “astray” by watching such movies. It is against our “Indian culture.” Okay..so being subservient, obedient, not expressing opinions, not living their dreams, working, exercising their choice is Indian culture..is it?
Also, today the female leads don’t shy away to get married or become mothers at the peak of their career. Acceptance is much better now. Most actresses are good businesswomen and many of them are self-made. I am happy that film-makers and the female actors are being bold in their choices and are not scared to take risks, both professionally and personally.
A lot needs to be done still, but a lot of positive signs are there..