Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

If you’ve been with me on the blog for a while you’ll know how I have always rued the fact that the twins seem to feel no pressure of exams while I am completely freaking out. The more I worry, the less they seem to think about it.

During their mid-terms in October last year, things got worse than ever. All through those two months (before and during the exams) I was constantly yelling at them and then feeling terribly guilty at the things I had said. We’d reach a stalemate, go through silent spells and then I’d be back trying to appease them, trying to get them to study, only to lose my temper yet again.

The worry about their marks and exams hung like a dead weight on my mind dragging me into the dumps, waking me up at night and keeping me anxious all day. I hated the entire exam system, hated that I had to handle it all alone and hated that I had to put the children through it all. It was  vicious.

All for a class 6 mid-term!

I can see how foolish that was, now. But the thing is, the reaction of a troubled mind is often far from logical. In retrospect I realise it was also partly because I had been struggling with a lot of health issues. That must have contributed to my chaotic mental state.

By the end of exam time I knew just one thing – I never wanted to be in that space again. More importantly, I never wanted to put the children through that. No marks, no awards were worth it.

We talked about it, the children and I. And we promised that at the next exam all of us would work towards keeping our cool, NO MATTER WHAT.

The children call it my Kalinga War, moment 🙂

Yeah Asoka the Great is part of their syllabus this term. So basically, that last exam was a sort of turning point. I made the keep-my-cool promise, even more fervently, to myself. I promised I’d not let the worry of their scores push me to the edge of reason, ever.

I am happy to say, this time round exam time has been relatively peaceful. Nothing much has changed – I still have to push them all the time, they still rush off the moment my attention flags, they’re still playing computer games, watching television, amusing themselves in a hundred different ways and annoying me in a thousand more.

The only thing that has changed is my attitude.

Sometimes the only way to make things better is to change your attitude. Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean I haven’t lost my temper at all. A leopard takes time to change her spots, right? But I have definitely dissociated myself a little bit and that feeling of panic hasn’t come back.

For that I am grateful.

After years of worrying that the children do not worry enough I can finally see the benefit of it. I never thought I’d say this but here I am feeling grateful that H and N do not panic. A friend, who is a teacher, spoke of kids who threw up constantly, suffered from headaches and body aches or ran a fever throughout the exams – all due to anxiety. And these are kids from class five and six, 11, 12 year olds. I would not wish that upon any child ever.

That said, I have to admit I doubt myself all the time, specially when I see a lot of moms pushing on relentlessly. I know of moms who solve each math problem along with their child. And when I hear of things like this I cannot help but  wonder if it’s just me. If it is I who am at fault, that I don’t have it in me to handle the pressure and then I worry that H and N might suffer because of that. Am I allowing them to slide into mediocrity by letting go? Have I been too hasty in letting go?

I don’t have any answers and so for now I push all these thoughts away. I’ll wait for their results before I make up my mind about anything. If they aren’t radically different from the mid-terms I’m good, or else I’ll need to rethink their study pattern.

However, there’s one thing I’m sure of and that is that I never want to go back to the madness of those anxiety ridden days, for their sake as well as my own. I’d much rather they score less and be happy than top their class but become a bundle of nerves.

And for now I’m enjoying the sense of peace.


Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle


27 Replies to “Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do”

  1. Whoa! can so relate to this OM. I literally worried myself sick during her 8th and first half of 9th grades. Always doubting if i was doing it right 😐 And, then I let go of the worrying in an attempt to restore peace and health. This will be the toughest year yet, but I’m letting her be and trusting that she’ll do it right *fingers crossed* Every word of yours strikes a chord OM. I’ll need to hang on and make it work for both of us 🙂

    1. Good for you Priya. I completely get how hard it is to let go and I’m still pretty far from being unaffected but at least I’m getting better at managing my anxiety.

  2. Sorry, Tulika. Found myself smiling and then laughing a little guiltily. I am the original laid-back Mom, thanks to being blessed with a self-motivated son. My hassle was more like telling him to chill, with the result that we’d end up watching movies before the day of the exam. Sigh. Old habits–I was like that too as a student.

    I admire you for overcoming your reaction to your twins and cooling off. In some sense, they have the privilege to enjoy themselves–after all, childhood! And 6th std eh? Hugs! I know how that can be!

    Thank you for linking up. Love to you!

  3. Am I allowing them to slide into mediocrity by letting go? – This. I only have a 6 year old, and this crosses my mind more often than I like. Like you though I have no answers, so I am not thinking about it – for now. Especially because I know I cannot be the mom solving math puzzles along with the kid. Once was more than enough to endure that torture.

    I like your current approach. Yes, wait for the results and see if you need to rethink the strategy. Either way, you should be really glad the kids don’t stress out. One less thing for you to worry about, and at any rate it’s a very healthy attitude to have. Count your blessings, mommy. 🙂

  4. Wait… I am just done doing this!!! Yelled at my 10 year old to get her to study. Phew! It indeed is stressful. But as usual super guilty about it too. Thinkng about it, wish I hadnt lost my cool, coaxing her with more eagerness would have done the job too.

  5. Nagging another to do something can be a very painful thing for self as one feels helpless and outta control! One wonders why doesnt the other person understand that its important and they got to get at it.
    But you can take the horse to the water but not make it drink or drink for it! I am so glad to hear you reached a happy pact zone amicable to both sides. Kalinga war moment indeed 😉
    I have seen one thing with all my nephews and neices, the more their parents harrangued, the more they shirked their studies. But left to their own devices, they put the pressure on themselves. I am talking about the ones who are sensible minded and good in studies! 😉 Its like when the parents are worried, they know they will keep the pressure so they let it off. But the moment the onus is on them, they get to it themselves.

    1. Oh that horse analogy is so very apt. That’s exactly what I feel when I’m trying to get them to study. It’s maddeningly frustrating. Their grades will tell whether our pact is successful! Sigh!

  6. Tulika, this too shall pass 🙂 I always maintained that as long as my kids did their best, it was enough. I knew of friends who disconnected their cable connection, hid the modem and play stations of their kids during their exams. I was there for the kids if they needed help but I din’t hover over them and they did pretty well. If the kids see their moms panicking, they are unnerved too. Be cool and enjoy this period of their lives, they will settle down to a rhythm in their own time.

    1. That’s the thing Sulekha. I know mine aren’t doing their best. That’s my major complaint. They just aren’t putting their best out there. If they did that I wouldn’t worry at all. In any case I don’t much bother about their grades but if they’re getting low grades because they don’t care enough – that’s a problem.
      Yeah, I’m hoping they settle down soon.

  7. Ah! I can relate to this. When AG was home preparing for his 10th Boards, I was so stressed out and he was as cool as a cucumber. But have realized that there isnt any point in getting worked up. Guide and remind and then let them do their best.

  8. I think it’s okay that you are not the mom who pushes so hard and who solves maths problems with the child. Every mom is different. don’t beat yourself up for not pushing them as much as some other moms because trust me these days the push is a little too much. Also, it’s good that you had the discussion and this time it was far better than the midterms. You and the twins will be fine and are fine, trust me 🙂

    1. You should see the moms out there Naba. It’s enough to drive you crazy. And when you see so many of them you begin to wonder if you are doing enough. But one really needs to keep one’s head on one’s shoulders and not go crazy.

  9. Oh, I understand how difficult it must be for you. I love how the twins call it the Kalinga War Moment though. Reminds me of my mom 😛

  10. I think at the end of the day, learning to be kind, compassionate and humble is all the more important than examinations and grades. Of course, they are not trivial but I’m sure the kids do understand that they need to study too. Just take it easy. And be always at peace. Nicely written!

    1. Trying to be exactly that – peaceful. Unfortunately in our country grades are considered the measure of intelligence, achievement and much else. Thanks for dropping by.

  11. Best wrishes to you and the twins. All of those exams are stressful for the whole family. Maybe a bit of relaxing family time would help them focus?

  12. Phew, I could see myself in your shoes a few years ago and boy am I glad I am through those trying times! We are stuck in between being laid-back parents at heart and conscientious ones through societal pressures. But I am glad your kids are handling pressure well and I am sure they will steer their boat across the choppy seas adroitly. So take deep breaths and say, All izz well!

    1. That’s exactly what it is – we’re part laid back and part conscientious. That said, I’m not even sure being around the children so much is a good idea at all. It’s a tough choice, as are most parenting decisions.

  13. I know how you feel, Tulika. I let the younger son handle his mid terms completely on his own and his performance dropped a lot. Sighing I took things back in my hands. Now I let him make his time table and just asked if he was studying according to it. A week before the finals I started revisions with him and realised that he did not know so much. That made me so mad. It is the same pattern no matter how patient I am. I had to do so much of Maths with him. He did Science and Computers himself and I helped out with an the three languages. I don’t really care about the marks as long as he has studied. And he did well. We got his report card just days back. I think it has to do with their age. They are mischievous with flitting attention spans, also hugely stubborn. It is not easy to cope but I try my best not to yell or get hyper. It’s pretty pointless. I think your approach is good. Just stick with it for some more time. Also really tune out the super helicopter moms. We can never be them. For me it is tougher because the older son was easier. Took to self study pretty early on. The younger one is going to be a handful for sure. Wishing you peace and calm this April.

    1. That’s exactly how it is. I am scared to let them handle studies on their own. But now I’m looking upon it as a choice between going crazy and getting lower grades. I’m even considering outsourcing – tuitions perhaps – something I’ve avoided so far. But if it helps make them regular at their studies and takes the pressure off them, I’m game. Anything to keep the peace.

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