Category: Parenting

Parenting decisions

Parenting decisions

It was six in the morning. I was done with the tiffins and was making a start on the kids’ breakfast as I called out to them to wake up for school. N woke up after a call or two but there was no response from H. When he refused to get up after repeated entreaties I went to check on him only to find him burrowing deeper under the covers.

‘My head hurts’, he mumbled, ‘I couldn’t sleep all night. May I please not go to school today?’

‘Not today!’, thought I, ‘God! please, not today’. Today I didn’t have the patience or the bandwidth to cajole or to fool around, to bribe or to offer concessions in a bid to keep the morning-before-school peaceful. Somedays it is almost stressful – this struggle to keep the mornings stressfree.

Annoyance rose up inside me. No sympathy, no concern, just plain annoyance.

I was supposed to go for a much postponed medical examination that day. This was something I’d been planning since the start of the year but just hadn’t been able to get around to. It would have taken up the entire day so plenty of planning was involved. The maids had to be informed, the children entrusted with a key to the house and told to manage their snack on their own when they got back from school. The zumba class had to be rescheduled and I was expecting a package from amazon so the neighbour had to be informed. As a stay-at-home mum, stepping out for one whole day is challenging.

Finally everything had been done and I had let the anxiety of the medical exam wash over me. The sense of achievement at having scheduled everything had faded at the thought of the ordeal ahead – the poking, the pricking and the drawing of blood and then of course there were the results to consider. What if there was something seriously wrong?

It was something I was looking forward to as much as I was dreading it.

For over a year I had been struggling with niggling aches and pains. Somedays I’d wake up with all my joints, right down to the digits of my fingers hurting. Somedays I’d wake up with a headache and carry it around for two or three days before it decided to leave. With no one to push me to get that checkup I had just let it be. I do hate going to the doctor on my own.

Finally, however, I had managed to ready myself and now this! I thought in frustration. This was something my already strung out nerves could have done without. Annoyance bubbled up again as I glanced over at my sleeping son. I’d have to reschedule and replan, provided I found the will-power to rebook that appointment. And all for a headache, which in all probability, would disappear even before his bus disappeared round the corner, I rued.

Am I being too soft on the children? Should I push him to go to school? It would be a struggle but I knew he would go if I pushed him. But was that too harsh? What if his head was really hurting? What if it was the beginning of one those terrible colds that seem to catch him all too easily? What if it turned into something serious, a fever, maybe? I touched his forehead. It felt cool. He turned over, forcing his eyes open, ‘Please ma, may I stay home, today?’ How sorely I missed the Husband at times like these!

I looked at H waiting for my response, his hair tousled, his blanket half on the ground, and I nodded slowly as a wave of guilt washed over me. Guilt. How could I feel annoyed at a child for being ill? Would I push him to go to school when he could barely open his eyes?

I saw his foot sticking out of the covers and reached out to pull up the blanket. He might be an 11-year-old tween with a size 10 foot but he still is my baby. The baby who comes looking for me at night when his nose is blocked or when he’s been all macho and watched a scary movie in the day.

Sigh!

Often I feel the children’s pain, physical or mental, more acutely than they themselves do but somedays, just somedays, I lose all sympathy and feel plain frustration, followed soon enough by guilt. And even while I know both feelings are way out of proportion I find myself unable to do anything about it.

Can a parent ever let go?

Can a parent ever let go?

This past week, in a bit of a coincidence, I’ve stumbled across multiple stories from friends – children and parents – who’ve disagreed with each other over important life-decisions like the choice of career or life partner.

It’s heartbreaking – this disagreeing with people closest to you, this not being able to understand each others thoughts and motivations.

Desperate children have been driven to the brink of suicide because they haven’t found it in their hearts to rebel. When I was younger I’d wonder why parents wouldn’t let them learn from their own mistakes. It seemed like such a logical thing to do.

As a mom now, I am no longer so certain. My children seem such a part of me, like a physical living part of my body, my heart, that it seems only natural to reach out and stop them, protect them from making mistakes. Separating myself from them seems the hardest thing I will ever need to do.

I wonder where I will find the courage to let them do something that, to my mind, is clearly a disaster. Would I be okay if they left the tried and tested to strike out on an unknown journey? Would I be okay, for instance, if one of them chose a career in music over academics, or would want to try their luck in Bollywood or strike out in the jungles as a photographer?

Would I be able to let them go? And yet be ready to have their back should they fail? Without a hint of ‘I told you so’? And then when they’re back up on their feet, would I be ready to let them make their next mistake? Be ready to have their back yet again?

It’s not going to be easy.

As I’ve grown older, possibly wiser, I’ve known some people who rebelled against their parents and found happiness. Some didn’t. Some heeded their advice and found happiness, others didn’t.

The thing is, one never can tell with life.

While children follow their passion, parents have to be the voice of reason. Click To Tweet

Ever so slowly, I hope they learn to balance their passion with reason, on their own. And I hope I’m around till they learn to do that. As their parent if I’m even writing this post, thinking I will have to let them go someday, it’s a step forward.

Meanwhile I make this promise to myself..

that I shall keep an open mind and respect their wish to follow their passion.

that I shall always always place their happiness above societal pressures – a lesson gifted to me by my parents.

and most of all, I will never close the doors of communication.

And I hope when the time comes, the children will give me and my concerns a patient hearing. And then, if they choose to go ahead despite it all, I shall find the courage to stand by them.

***********

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Slowing down

Slowing down

This past week has been one of the busiest, not just for me but for the children as well. After the rather lazy Diwali vacations we were all struggling to come to terms with our schedules. The weekend promised to be even busier what with the children’s hobby classes, a PTM to go to (which takes up all morning with some 10 to 12 teachers to be met) and two birthday parties.

My head was reeling as I tried to schedule pickup and drop timings for both the children while also trying to make a few hours to help them with their studies and also adjust the maid-timings!

My SIL called up to chat and raved about a must go-to exhibition that she’d spent three hours browsing through. She offered to accompany me if I could make time over the weekend. I am rather reluctant for such a plan on a busy weekend but this time I was sorely tempted. A quick mental check and I figured I could squeeze it in.

A little later, however, on an impulse, I cancelled the trip. Yeah I flip-flop a lot.

Sure enough, as I picked up H from his guitar class, the exhibition had lost all its charm even though barely half the day was through.

Instead of running home to let the maid in, I called and instructed her to get the keys from the neighbour and took H off for a coffee/drink at a close by cafe. I was done with the driving around. I ordered a huge Latte while he got himself a tall glass of Iced Tea. There was still an hour before N had to be picked up and so we settled down for some one on one conversation.

We talked about our tentative move to a new house next year. He said he’d miss his classmate who lived close by and we planned future play dates. We discussed his teacher’s comments at the PTM that he needed to mix with other children apart from his two closest buddies. He told me about his much-hated football coach who had been nasty yet again to another friend of his.

We got back relaxed and in good time to pick up N. Not going to that exhibition proved to be one of the best decisions I made.

There was a time I would load up my day with a list of things to do and would go through it systematically. At the end of the day the ticks on that list brought a huge sense achievement.

However, I can no longer do that.

I find I cannot go through a list of back-to-back tasks as easily as I used to. Click To Tweet

The physical effort might not be too much but the mental effort of not just planning but also of getting the children ready, the constant calling out to them, of sorting their hundred tiny disagreements and listening to and solving their myriad problems is exhausting. And so I’ve learnt to take things easy, to slow down.

As we drove back home the image that remained with me was of H carrying the tray with our drinks, his tongue stuck out as he concentrated on not letting them spill. Nothing I’d have found at the exhibition would have been as precious.

 

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

It was N who reminded me that one activity on her list of ‘things to do after exams’ was pending. With just a weekend left for school to reopen we are struggling to get through said list. She had labelled this activity ‘N and mama day’. That reminded me of my resolve to set aside separate ‘we time’ for each child. Despite my best intentions that hasn’t happened frequently enough.

Though we try hard to look out for both of them, they do end up sharing a lot more than just their room. Individual attention is not always possible.

Why it is so tough

Even if you have a single child you might like to think about how much time you set aside to spend with him or her alone, away from your gadgets and chores, when you give the child your complete attention doing something he or she enjoys as much as you do. With two children (or more) it becomes even more difficult to make time for each one separately.

First, there are practical issues, specially in a nuclear family like mine where another family member isn’t around to be with the other child. Then there’s the fact that H and N suffer from a huge case of FOMO only and only when the other sibling is involved. So handling the ‘why not me?’ is hard.

However, they are growing up

…which is a great thing because they’re old enough to be left alone. Their interests are becoming more defined and diverse and they’re getting less clingy.

That they still clamour for alone time with me is extremely gratifying. It also makes me ever so aware of the time when they won’t want me around at all and reminds me to make the most of this time.

We are able to hold more meaningful conversations and share deeper secrets. That makes talking-to them ever so satisfying. Oh, they have plenty of secrets to share. You’d be surprised about the things they tell me when we’re alone. I have to remind myself constantly to keep my face impassive and my comments non-committal but It really is a lot of fun.

Also, I am hoping these moments will be the building blocks for the time when they will really need advice or support for serious issues as they enter their teens.

Here are a few more reasons why a one-on-one is such a great idea.

Why one-on-one time with each of your children is a great idea Click To Tweet

It is the best time to share secrets

If I were to name one single reason for alone time this would be it. One might think siblings, specially twins, would share their deepest darkest secrets with each other. Not true. I find they open their hearts much more readily when they are alone with me. We’ve talked about troublesome teachers and bullying coaches, heartbreak over lost friendships and all kinds of real and imagined insults.

It gives them a sense of ‘self’

Since when the children were babies I’ve encouraged them to be their own selves, to not be clubbed as two parts of a whole. Alone time reinforces the fact that as a parent I appreciate them separately for what they truly are.

It is great for their self-esteem

..because for that half hour or one hour they have mine or The Husband’s complete attention. And that tells them how important they are.

It helps ease off sibling rivalry

Individual attention takes away the need for them to fight for it. Oh it’ll be ages before they admit it, even to themselves. Don’t we all grow up believing our parents love the other sibling more? However, I am hoping once they realise they don’t have to fight for our attention the edge shall wear off their rivalry.

It is extremely relaxing as a parent

..because this is the one time I can agree or disagree with that one child without worrying about appeasing the other. It’s a huge relief to focus on one child’s needs, his triumphs and failures even if it is for a little while only. Also, I’m not sure this holds for everyone but my children are the soul of decency when they’re separated from their twin. They offer to carry my bags, aren’t fussy about food, pick up thoughtful gifts for the other one and even refuse a second helping of ice-cream!

And so we’ll be heading out to the mall for some girl-time. After all that ‘Things to do after exams’ list is sacrosanct.

Do you make an effort to spend a one-on-one time with your child? What’s your favourite ‘together’ activity?

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

It’s that time of the year again when the twins start to dabble in all of their long-forgotten interests and hobbies. Nope, it isn’t vacation time – it’s exam time.

Remember this post I did last year?

Just as the exam dates drew close N decided she had to have a candle-light dinner…. at home, mercifully. She collected all the candles from around the house and lit them up, switched off all the lights and the three of us huddled around the dining table peering at our plates in semi-darkness.

If I ever complained that The Husband never asked me out for a candlelight dinner, this was the time to send out an apology. And a heartfelt thank-you to Thomas Edison. Seriously, candlelight dinners are over-rated. It’s worse if you’re in the middle of the monsoon season unless of course, you like your food seasoned with a bunch of fluttering moths.

So there I was, trying to figure out whether that black thing in my dal was a jeera or a keera, while thinking how soon I could get the children back to the study table without hurting N’s rather delicate feelings, which become even more fragile during exams.

H however, had no such compunctions. In true sibling tradition, he declared he hated the whole idea and went around the room switching on the lights while N ran after him switching them off. When I finally got them to sit down he resorted to saying things like, “I cannot see your Ffface’ and that he was too ‘Fffaar fffrom the light’ and that ‘we must never do this again in Fffture’ and kept blowing out the candles while N kept re-lighting them.

I gave up all hope of them studying that evening.

Then N decided she wanted to knit

For a long time she has been mildly fascinated with the idea of knitting. Now suddenly she wants knitting needles and also that I teach her how to go about it. I probably would have gone looking for the needles except I have no clue where to find them. Or for that matter how to teach her. Whoever knits these days?

.. and they’re ‘giffing’ 

I’m not sure that’s a real word but here’s how one goes about it – You pick a word or a phrase, couple it with an expression and repeat it over and over and over again till you drive everyone crazy. As if WhatsApp wasn’t bad enough I have real-life gifs walking around the house saying things like ‘Freedom, I want freedom!’

via GIPHY

..and they’re cooking up spells

They jump out from corners brandishing ‘wands’ and shouting out never-heard-before spells. ‘Magnifera Indica’ screams N and H replies with a ‘Triticum vulgare’, which sounded scarily like Valar Morghulis and I wondered where they’d heard that Game of Thrones line. As it turned out they were simply practicing scientific names of fruits and animals. Those  were mango and wheat respectively! Such a relief! Though the shouting still gets to me.

Finally, H decided he wanted to make comics

…to make science easy for other children,’ he said. All his comics have a rather grisly theme – an insectivorous plant-eating up an insect or a lion eating up a deer (I think) as part of a food chain. If he ever does want to take this up as a profession, he will certainly need an illustrator.

 

We’re at the fag end now and I’m hoping we’ll get through with my nerves intact. Keep the prayers coming.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

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