As a first time mother, I hated being told (in a manner), when I sensed my maternal instincts are demeaned. I wanted to explore what it meant to be a mother in my own way, yet, be in control also. I loved and longed for people who would advise me in a loving yet non-intrusive manner. I closed myself for anyone who questioned my parenting technique/schedule.
My quest to find my parenting groove – I read, I saw videos, I watched mothers doing it in my vicinity. Resultingly, I, in my small network of family, friends and acquaintances, was approached by them for parenting tips during child care emergencies.
I felt so validated, something for which I was deeply craving after leaving my full time job. I had left my job to be a mother. Now, I felt I have adorned that role satisfactorily.
Mimicking or Mirroring
However, over a period of time, I realized that I am also doing the exactly the same what I hated people doing to me couple of months back. And this realization did not come to me easily. Few hard looks, few resistance laden statements actually forced me to look into myself- where I am going /doing wrong? Easiest is to find fault in others – so did I.
I also tried understanding, why on earth these people/newly turned parents are not receptive when I am sharing some tried and tested tip & technique.
For days and weeks, I kept on comparing those – who reached out to me earnestly for infant care tips and those whose discomfort was making me ponder. Why on earth their behavior was making me feel stuck and concerned about me more?
Discomfort Indicates Need For Growth
On the other hand, my toddler was now turning more and more independent. One day, I looked at my growing child, in fact, at fast changing relationship from the one who was totally dependent on me. Now, he was loving his independence, and how he was getting irritated when I stopped him from adventuring into something, which looked dangerous to me.
It was not a happy acknowledgement either. I started feeling increasingly frustrated with his unexpected activities. However, he was an adorable toddler who was simply loving his adventurous stage taking everything in his stride.
His energy laden explorations were disrupting the flow of my day. Not one activity, whether it was cooking, or laundry or sleeping or even checking my phone could be completed in one go. Any break in that flow was adding to my irritation. Somewhere I was deeply conditioned that he is dependent on me. And I loved his dependency on me. My identity had started developing around his care taking schedule. So anything jeopardizing my control or change in schedule or change in any form, led to anxiety and shouting contests in the house.
So, one day, principal at my child’s play school (who was then few months over the age of two years – Why he started play school at that tender age, when I was at home – another story for another day) called me to meet her. She told me, your child is very clear headed and he loves saying ‘NO’ to every instruction by the group facilitator.
I conveniently picked up the good part of the conversation, which comforted my parenting ego. I said, ‘Oh’ happily and smiled at her. She too smiled for a while and then said, who says ‘No’ to her in the house. I was like, ‘Ouch’- that’s me who does to him all the time, in pursuit of disciplining and making him shine in manners for whole world to see, despite my best loving intentions.
So, folks no love is ‘unconditional’, damn hard realization in that moment.
Here, I compared myself in these two situations. One – where people despite my best intentions are not receptive/welcoming to my tips/experience/love. The second one – how my own toddler’s changing relationship with his age, increasing independence and unacknowledged pursuit of disciplining my child, had termed me so rigid.
Waves of Realization
In that moment, I realized, I have to be mindful of their needs. However, I have to be more careful about not assuming things to go as per my understanding of the world.
Let them breathe, need, come and ask for help. I still love my child and absolutely love helping people.
However, I wait and respect for them to come to me.
Another startling realization – I as a mother had started to seek refuge in my role of mother. Unknowingly, I had started losing my individuality. Not motherhood, its the strings attached to motherhood overwhelms and devours our best years n talents not to be found ever.
With this realization, I started craving for external validation. Hence, I was on the verge of turning into someone, whom I had never even imagined. Its critical for a mother to keep finding her own versions internally and keep making way for her growth.