Insight

STOP THE CRUCIFIXION; SOME SKILLS ARE NOT INNATE

Society puts so many ridiculous expectations on women and sometimes experiencing it or thinking about it drives me crazy. One of the those I really hate is how you, as a woman, is expected to know how to handle a baby perfectly even when you have never had one around you all your life. Nobody takes into account your circumstances. All they see is a failure. A woman who is not worthy to be ‘wifed’. My life experience paints a better picture of this situation: I have a twin brother and we have no younger one so I have never known what it’s like to be actively involved in looking after a little one because we never had anyone else in my house.

Growing up and having to experience life like this has not given me any opportunity or occasion to learn how to handle a baby properly. This skill, like cooking, is not something anyone is born with. You learn from people and when you have yours, you become better at it because you have lots and lots of time to practice. This is why I am always shocked and surprised that people expect me to be an expert at this even though I have never been a mother or had a younger one.

People have mocked me because I didn’t know the proper way to hold a day-old baby or yet back a baby. When I tried to hold the baby, they corrected me with so much bile and bitterness that I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. This attitude and expectations from people around me got so bad that when I observed that when I am with people and faced with certain situations with a baby and I am clueless, they start mocking me or making me feel like I am less of a woman. They do not even want to understand where I am coming from. I just get outright backlash. I mean these are things that even experts learn with time. They start seeing me as someone who will not make a good wife or even yet mother. Then, they start chiding me and trying to tell me how I am supposed to know. It becomes surprising to me that they don’t even understand the perspective of teaching with patience and after all she is single and not necessarily had a baby all her life but they just expect the skills to jump on you because you are a woman.

When I confide in people who know me well, they ask me to pretend or show that I can do it. I love learning and I am open to that but that huge expectation is what I do not understand. The subject of reference i.e the baby has been what I do not have or because of upbringing not been exposed to. They even laugh when you say you have never changed a baby’s diapers before like it is a crime. Then they go on to tell me that these are what in-laws are looking for in a wife material: a woman who is already an expert in motherhood or motherly duties and wears that tag with pride as though it is her utmost achievement. They tell me that no one expects you to make mistakes or be clueless about things like this – you’re supposed to make it look as if you were born with the ability to be a perfect wife and mother.

It is tiring. I can never see myself pretending to make myself more acceptable. Isn’t it funny how people expect you to be an expert mother as a woman even when you’ve never borne or held a child in your arms before? When you’re not very good in doing those motherly things like changing diapers, backing a baby, holding the baby properly or feeding the baby, as a woman, they mock you and act like you are the worst person alive or something is fundamentally wrong with your womanhood. Even if this is what we were born to do, why can’t they see and understand that these things are learned? They are not innate or part of a base in the female DNA.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t have children yet not knowing how to change diapers properly. She only needs to learn, that’s all and she will. When the baby comes, there’s a reason why in many cultures, mothers and mothers-in-law come and stay with their daughters who have just been delivered of babies. They come to show them how to take care of babies because it is often assumed that many of them have no prior experience. If someone has an experience beforehand because of her upbringing or the experiences she went through, then, it’s a plus. But if she doesn’t have one, there’s nothing wrong with her. While, it is not bad to encourage learning these things before they’re needed, not having expert mothering skills before you actually become one doesn’t necessarily make you a bad wife or mother.

 

Adewuyi Roseline is passionate about the girl child. Growing up, she had a lot of questions about her identity. She is on the journey to ensure that young girls rise above limitations, smash stereotypes in their communities.

2 Comments

  • Deolu

    So this was me 3 months ago. I had my baby earlier than expected and my mother was due to come in a months time. It was terrifying and I never thought I would be alone with a newborn not to talk of one who not only came a bit earlier but was also very tiny. I learnt on the job, I had his bath for him watching YouTube, learned to swaddle him from hospital videos and my first attempt to wear a nappy for him I called for a nurse to teach me. Maternal and paternal instincts are not innate as often preached rather it is a learning process. You make mistakes and become better and this applies to all whether male or female.

    • roseline

      Smiles. I am glad you could relate so well. It is definitely a learning process and people should not be too hard on women. As a single lady, like I wrote, I have had my fair share to deal with as well.

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