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How motherhood changed me - Essay by Shoba Nair

How has being a mother changed your life? We've invited moms to share their thoughts on "How motherhood changed me". Continue reading for Shoba Nair's story.


When I was pregnant with my first child, I only thought about how I was going to be the best mother ever and how I was going to mould my little one. By the time I had my third child, I became wiser: I knew by then that the child was going to mould me instead – to be the best human I could ever be.

Like many mothers I know, motherhood did change my career choice, but somewhere along the way, it became more than a practical career choice. When my third child was three, I had to make a tough decision to exchange my promising and iron-rice-bowl teaching career in the Ministry of Education (just when I was being groomed for the next management position) for three boys who needed my attention and energy more than what my mother or helper could afford. It forced me to prioritize, yes, but it also drove me to be more risk-taking, to be more adventurous, as the restless spirit in me actively sought out opportunities to work from home, using my experience and skills. At the end of one year, I managed to clinch a few good projects and set up my own professional writing consultancy firm : I became an entrepreneur, in my own small way, something I would never have considered or thought possible a few years ago, having had a sheltered, comfortable upbringing and life till then.

As my children grew, I slowly (and painfully) learned that I was no angelic mum as I had thought I would be. The self-imposed pressure of ensuring discipline in my children unleashed the demons in me that I never knew lurked within: I realized how cruelly angry and hopelessly impatient a person I could be! It crushed me to know myself, and for a while, I struggled with this, trying to overcome the disgust I felt with myself. However, like they say, no pain, no gain. I learned to face my demons, which I realized was a result of my insecurities and fears, and it led me on a path of middle-age self-discovery and reflection. Today, I am still far from being a Buddha of course, and I still lose my cool with my children, but now I courageously face my demons and learn, day by day, how to best deal with them, instead of ignoring or complaining about them.

Motherhood also presented me with another major test. When my second son was seven, during a yearly health check-up in his school, the nurse realized that he had an irregular heartbeat, and referred him for further medical checks at the hospital. It came to be that my son had a hole in the heart, of medium size, and which required surgery. It was certainly an unexpected piece of news, something which made my never-shaken husband break down just outside the heart specialist’s clinic. I had to then be the solid rock, the strong one, which was a brand new role for me in my 10 years of marriage where my husband had always taken the lead in this respect.

Amazingly I took on the role naturally, never once breaking down, neither in public nor in private, and saw my son, who gained his courage with my words and actions, through the open heart surgery and his smooth recovery. I surprised many people who knew me, including my grateful husband, for whom I became a pillar of support. It was due to an unshakeable belief, a strong source of strength within me, something I never even knew existed.

The motherhood journey has not been easy, and moving on, as my children reach their teens, I know that the challenges would take on a different dimension, hardly an easier one. However, a diamond does not start off polished and shining; it takes a lot of pressure to make it spectacular and precious. As masochistic as it may sound, I look forward to the ‘pain’ I would experience to mould me into the best human my children could ever make me be. After all, our lovable children are the best diamond-makers.

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