With small kids especially with all of them wearing diapers, life used to be arduous. There was no night sleep, just naps as and when possible. And no dream of a hot cup of tea would even come true. Looked as if I was stuck in a time freeze that would never thaw.
No there weren’t half a dozen of them, just two kids but a lot wholesome two.
Any complaints to an otherwise cooperative hubby or a barely understanding ammi would invite lessons of being thankless and not valuing the prized gifts from God. Perhaps when you get things unasked you definitely undervalue them.
Yes they were a bundle of joy, but the joy one gets in reading a book or painting a silk scarf is worthwhile too. I missed these so dearly. The husband often remarked of me being a more difficult than the kids themselves. And yes for him I sure was a difficult ‘child’.
Many experienced friends with grown up kids, often remarked with authority that small kids were smaller problem, big kids bigger problem. I really dreaded, if this was a small problem what would be a ‘big’ problem.
I feared losing my passion for the ‘other’ interests when getting engrossed into being a full-time mom. It was then that in a TV episode of Dr Phil, they talked of moms having their own time. We desis have no ‘my time’ in a mom’s dictionary. But I decided to make it happen in my home.
Despite a lot of creased foreheads around in the neighborhood ( yes we desis are so good at peeping into what goes on in the house next door as compared to what’s happening right under our nose), I continued doggedly to have my time and my passion. If it wasn’t for a patient husband, and his firm nod for a yes, it certainly wouldn’t have been possible.
Fridays evening after coming back from work was ‘my time’ when I had the compulsive obsession to paint. And their Dad adorned the role of a single parent for those 8 hours or so trying his best to prove himself ‘a better mom‘. The kids too knew it was their Dad-only quality time. I have no idea what all they did, so long as they let me have my heavenly-time letting me riot with flowy colorful paints on silk scarves.
The yelling at kids is so a synonymous with a mom, and I too did it mindlessly, until there came the Super Nanny TV serial and it was like a ‘revelation’ of how easy it is to raise kids if you become their friend and talk to them on a one to one level instead of being their commander-in chief. I decided to give it a chance.
My world and my kids actually changed once I began talking instead of yelling at their mistakes. They became a lot more receptive and ‘manipulating’ them to behave the way we parents want them to was also quite possible now—though not always.
Being friends with kids comes with a package. Yes they share with you ‘some’ of what’s going on in their life, but then they make you a butt of their jokes too. My kids leave no opportunity to be critical or mock at my follies. Perhaps if one realizes, kids being whole heartedly friendly is far more comforting than them being half heartedly respectful.
Attending a workshop by a child psychologist some years ago on Positive Parenting to teach parents how to inculcate survival skills in the kids, again made motherhood a lot more fun than a burden.
Again, as desi parents we “love being all protective, subconsciously trying to not let them grow up to be independent from us.” remarked the lecturer. He couldn’t have been more insistent on upholding a ‘trusting’ relationship, giving them space to fend for themselves, instead of ‘sheltering’ them from the ills of the evil world both inside and outside the home.
Cleaning rooms for the kids, making breakfast for them in the morning, following their progress with teachers in the high school, dropping-picking to and from school, was in no way a symbol of being a ‘caring’ parent in the eyes the psychologist.
His words came like a hammer on one’s head. Like all moms I too had dreamt of being an embodiment of care and sacrifice. One can be a good mom and yet not do their chores. Wow! That really makes motherhood so very easy. You can have the cake and eat it too.
First thing he told was to stop making a breakfast for the kids if they were in their teens or beyond.
Weird and a really tough proposition especially to see them struggling in the kitchen while the mom looked the other way. My heart missed several beats each morning. First week was a disaster. My kids went to school without any grain gone down their throat. The guilt of being an evil mom hit me hard.
As if his words were a gospel. The kids were a changed species next week, managing their breakfast like a perfect housewife. Again the mom in me felt hurt—Oh my God, they don’t need me any more.
Next on the list was to make my son’s room a no entry zone for me–no cleaning, no organizing for him.
A constant tug of war in the head between a helpful and a couldn’t care less mom was hard to banish. Days, weeks passed. Nothing moved from its place in my son’s room. The socks rolled up in the corner stayed still. The scattered books and papers maintained their position. But yes the cupboard got messier and the dust layer on the bookshelf got thicker. The room even started to have a peculiar smell—and I joked with him of living in a ‘sty’.
I called the psychologist to tell him I had no hope but he with utmost patience told me—“leave it as it is.”
I did but with a heavy heart. The mom in me was constantly cursing for having listened to this evil psychologist who knew nothing about boys.
Then came a blessed moment. And my son actually decided to make his room. How he did was beyond imagination. And ever since I never had to search for his lost sock or a book.
As for dropping the kids to school or following their progress in High School isn’t encouraged by the school itself in Canada and the kids are trained to manage their issues themselves, with the assistance of the counselors on site. Whether it is -30 degrees freezing winter or hot sweltering summer, the kids find their own way to school–by public bus or at times by walking.
I see my kids going out of my hands and becoming more independent with the each passing day.
How much of a contradiction we moms are—when the kids are dependent on us, we crave for independence and when they spread their wings to be independent we clamor for them to be in our control.
Learning the art to communicate with the kids as equal individuals, giving them space and letting them learn to be the masters of their world isn’t all that an easy task for any mom, but I guess it is in their best interest. The earlier we realize, the better it is for both the mom as well as the kids.
So befitting is Kahlil Jibran’s poetry in this context:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
And yes, to those who vehemently remarked that bigger children are a bigger problem, I beg to disagree. I think they are a bigger pleasure, provided we learn to accept them as equal friends.
I am glad one day my kids may not need me anymore, but hopefully they’ll still love me.