I read this somewhere “I was a very good parent until I became one”.
I always knew I wanted kids and 2 of them would be perfect. So once I was pregnant with my first child, I read up everything I could on the internet, asked at least 20 questions to my doctor every time I went to visit her, did Yoga, ate right, didn’t do anything that could be ‘risky’, the book “What to do when you are expecting” was like my bible/Gita for those 9 months. I had this whole plan chalked out on my mind – how I will bring her up, how my relationship would be with her, what I will teach her so on and so forth. In all this thinking I guess I was forgetting one very basic point – this baby will also have a mind of her own and may not exactly follow my plan for her life.
I sometimes think it is so surprising that even after all these years, those moments I spent in the hospital during her birth are crystal clear and vivid in my memory. It was like yesterday that I gave birth to her. I think this is what becoming a parent does to you. I am usually strong emotionally and do not cry easily. But the moment I held my daughter in my arms, a feeling of relief overpowered by love brought tears to my eyes. We went through all the fears of a new parent questioning everything we did or didn’t do, checking the internet and books, calling up the doctor like a zillion times, consulting our parents so on and so forth.
I quit my job to take care of my daughter. I never got tired of watching her gurgle, smile, yawn and sometimes just lie there. Her desire to have her own way started from day one we brought her home from the hospital. This baby who slept contently in her hospital bassinet without much fuss just wasn’t willing to sleep the same way at home. We had to take turns carrying her, rocking her and going round in circles before she finally slept. This wasn’t the preview we had at hospital! And then came the drinking & eating part. They were the last items on her to-do list.
Very soon I found myself feeding her, giving her naps, changing her, bathing her, talking to her and playing with her for the entire day. This wasn’t what I had envisioned. I thought I will have more ‘free’ time for myself too. I didn’t hesitate to hand over my daughter to my husband after he got back from work and do all the other household work. I don’t think I enjoyed cooking or cleaning before that, but I just needed a break from doing the same thing day in and day out the whole day. Now don’t get me wrong that I hated it or I loved her any less. I enjoyed all of it but the monotony of the schedule started getting to me.
In between all this, she was growing up fast – learning new things rapidly and exploring. When she called me “Amma” for the first time, I felt I won the Oscars. Her vocabulary improved and it was such a delight to hear her half formed, half broken words and sentences. After two years of been at home, I felt I was ready to go back to work. That would mean leaving her in someone else’s care. Finding this “someone else” proved to be a herculean task. It was very rough for her and us the first couple of months and during that time, I asked this question to myself every single day – Do I really need to go back to work?
As she became older, she started having her own opinions or way of doing things. It was hard for me to accept that and let go of what I think should be done. Her interests weren’t always aligned with mine. It is when these conflicts arise, my parenting skills are put to test.
Few years later, my son was born. With the second one, things were much more casual, call it the confidence of an experienced MOM. I didn’t refer any books on a regular basis except the occasional look up. Most of what I did was by instinct and prior knowledge. This time too, I was moved to tears holding him for the first time. We went through the same cycle of been obsessed with a new born where he dominated our entire lives for a while. But I didn’t quit my job this time as I had additional help and had flexible working hours. But now another myth was shattered.
We assumed we have had experience raising one kid, we should be able to use that experience for the 2ndone. But no, my baby boy’s agenda was to teach us a whole new parenting style! We were astonished that how can two kids born to the same parents be so drastically different from day they are born. Even though he is toddler, he is so opinionated and many times I have to bend my rules to accommodate his needs and wishes.
Each of my children are so different but so connected. I cannot describe the pleasure it gives me when I see them play with each other or come and give me a spontaneous hug or kiss. Every night when I tuck them to bed, I marvel at these creations of God and seeing them sleep soundly, all the anger, frustration I might have had during the day just gets wiped out. At the end of the day, they are the reason who add so much meaning to my life.
At one time my idea of a good parent was someone who is always controlled, knows and does the best for her kids, does not yell, can inspire her kids to listen and obey, can motivate her kids to excel at what they do, can establish an environment at home where the kids can be honest, trusting and loving towards all, respect each other and the list goes on.
After been a parent for so many years, I realized that all the qualities that make up a “good parent” are essential for a healthy & loving relationship within a family but what is important to understand and remember is it isn’t possible for one to be 100% good at it. I need to give myself the liberty to make mistakes. No one is perfect. So best is to accept things as they are but work on them as a team. Our kids will be children only once, so do not miss this chance being a parent whom they will love forever.
Written by : Anita Grandhi.
Anita is a mother of two children and a writer who we just discovered. She has a very fun and creative style of parenting. This mother’s day post is a retrospection of sorts, taking a look back at her parenting journey so far and identifying what matters the most. The answer is simple – Our love for our children. Everything else is secondary.