Motherhood changes everything. PERIOD! Being in-charge of raising another human is not just a huge responsibility but it is also an overwhelming experience. It has those “Awwww” moments along with those “Ughhhh” moments. It has moments of pride, it has moments of guilt, it has moments of frustrations. And I have come to realise that the best way of dealing with this roller-coaster of emotions is to accept and embrace every moment and the emotion it brings along. There was a time when my last thoughts before falling asleep every night used to be around what I should wear to work the next day and what are the things I could do to enhance my teaching skills at work. I used to doze off thinking about what would happen on the next episode of “This is Us” and here I am now, sleeping every night, doing a mental self assessment of myself as a mum. Did I give it my best? Did I enjoy my “awwww” moments? How did I respond to the “ughhhh” moments? Did I raise my voice? Did I mistreat my little one in the whole quest of disciplining her? Did I loose my cool when she threw a tantrum? Could I have been more patient with her? Did I feed her well today? Did she get to eat a variety of foods from the different food groups? At the end of this self created questionnaire, I simply reassure myself that tomorrow will be a new day, a new chapter, and yet another chance to try and be the best version of myself as a mum, as a human.
Amidst all of this, I have come to the conclusion that although I have this amazingly close and loving bond with my little one, I can be super mean to her every now and then! And I’m cool with that! Is that bad? I don’t think so, not as of now! But I bet my little one thinks so, although as a 2 year old, she hasn’t developed that realisation yet. I can so see her growing up to realise this “mean streak” in her mum and someday she is going to tell me how I invariably end up ruining all the fun for her, all the time. And although she might see it that way, I am okay with that as long as I am serving the goal of raising a decent human being, with a strong character and grounded moral values. This stuff is important to me and I need her to value it too. Just because I’m a “no nonsense” kind of mean mum at times (ok, many a times), I don’t think I’m a bad mum.
For example: I can seem mean when I don’t always play with my little one. Don’t get me wrong, but I do a whole lot of fun activities with her and I do goof around with her by being all silly from time to time. And I enjoy every bit of it. I even let her play in the rain although somewhere I’m worried that she might catch a cold. I try to keep my own OCD issues aside, when she is having some messy fun of her own. But there are also times, when I don’t want to play with her and I simply say NO, NOT NOW! And that’s fine, because although she might think I’m being a fun spoiler for her, I feel that I’m giving her a real world experience then and there. I need her to learn that in the real world, not everyone is going to comply with her needs. I need her to understand that everyone has a right to say yes or no depending on their own desires. I want her to respect this need that everyone has just as much as she expects everyone to respect and comply with her own needs. Life is about give and take and we don’t always get what we want, and when we want. She needs to learn to deal with whatever emotions such a situation brings her way. And it rather start early, and start at home – in the safety and comfort of her own people.
Another scenario that brings out the mean mum in me is when it is time for my little one to clean up her play things. I have this strong need for cleanliness and organisation. I can’t stand any sort of mess for long. In fact, I have rubbed off this quality onto my little one as well. She is generally is clean freak too but when she’s busy playing, she can get very messy. It’s a typical toddler thing and I respect that when it is her free play time. But once she’s done, she needs to clean up her mess. Maybe it is too early for her to learn this but I am consciously teaching her to play in an organised fashion. Like taking one toy at a time and putting it away before bringing out the next one. But she doesn’t get that and I’m willing to wait until she does. However, at the end of it all, she has to clear out the mess – she can choose to take her own sweet time, she can pretend to ignore my instructions, or even throw a dramatic tantrum over it. But she does have to clean up, period! There are times I wait patiently as I sing along and make the whole cleaning up process all about fun. And there are times I yell out my orders and throw a loud tantrum myself, to get the job done as soon as possible. I need her to realise her responsibilities and what is expected out of her. If I don’t insist that she is capable of doing this, she would never realise that she in fact is capable of doing it. And trust me, she is doing a good job at it and I hope this lasts. She is not just learning the concept of responsibilities and time, but she is even learning about consequences in the bargain. Like my silent treatment when she’s not behaved appropriately e.g., she accepts it graciously and knows exactly what called for it. She even tries to not repeat that behaviour in the future which is a big learning I believe. Yes sometimes, she will be adamant and repeat the same behaviour and just like her, I would repeat my reaction as well. That’s when she realises the existence of a concept called consistency which is very important when it comes to disciplining a toddler. Consistency in rewards and praise as well as in punishments and silent treatments. And by now she knows what to expect from me and most of the times, behaves appropriately. This is her window of opportunity to learn about complying with societal norms. And if she doesn’t want to do the time, then she shouldn’t do the crime.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I do give her umpteen number of chances to goof up, test her boundaries and test my patience. That’s also a crucial part of growing up after all… “to know when to stop”. And after she is done exploring those “chances”, she’s get “ONE LAST CHANCE”. If she doesn’t get her act together in those chances, guess what! She has to deal with something called “consequences”. That’s when my “enough is enough” look surfaces and “the no nonsense mum” in me takes over. A lot of the times, this involves me “yelling”! I feel awfully terrible when I do that but I still do. But again, that doesn’t make me a bad mum. If anything, I’m a real mum, an authentic mum who is not putting up a façade or pretence of any kind. She needs to learn that her mum is just as human as she is. Just like she gets to behave or misbehave in the comfort and security of her own home, so does her mum. This is another opportunity for her to see how I feel as a mum, each time she yells and screams to get what she wants. And hopefully, she learns how unpleasant and how unproductive yelling is and begins to control her own tantrums too. When I apologise after I yell at her, she learns something too. She learns the value of productive communication and how to do some damage control after making errors. We are all humans… and need to learn from each other. We need to respect each other and learn to coexist in a harmonious manner. And trust me, I can see her imbibing all of this, even though she’s so little. She knows that I love her to the moon and back but at the same time she knows that she has to do her bit as well. I also make it a point to highlight that it is her behaviour that I’m judging and holding up for accountability, not her as a person. She is a beautiful person and I can’t say that enough!
So yeah, here I am! To a third person, or even my own family at times, I might seem like a mean and yeller kind of mum, but hopefully someday they will get to see why I am, the way I am. And someday, my little one too will see the value in what I did and why. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry!