Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Parenthood is relief that our babies survived their first journey, exhaustion from their births, being overwhelmed by what we brought into this world, joy when we connect with them, fear of losing them and guilt from our choices and predicaments – the latter of which we do not have any control.
These emotions emerge and converge over and over throughout the lives of our children, becoming a state of mind that no written or oral, informal or formal prenatal guidance had prepared us for.
This parenting mindset changes our adult relationships. We fight a lot with our partners and reignite relationships with our own parents. We discover support in the most surprising places. It may be a female boss who’s also a mom. It may be a schoolmate who had a baby just before us. Or it may be total strangers from real or virtual parent support groups on social media.
We shut ourselves in our worlds with our precious little ones, determined to shield them from the ugliness and cruel words. We commiserate with ourselves in our life troubles, convinced that our children’s needs take first place over anyone else’s including our own.
The daily struggles of work and life continued despite mountains of laundry, breastfeeding trouble, expensive milk formula and above all a baby who demanded all of our time. We found that it is harder and tougher to stay afloat and we break down a lot.
We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there – Neil deGrasse Tyson
At some point, our kids get to us. They say no to us and they mean no, they refuse the meals we fussed so much over, they push all of our buttons even the ones we didn’t know existed and they tantrum 50 times a day. Above all they want more and more of our time, just when we thought we can have more sleep.
We figured these developments were due to our decisions and our actions. We tried harder and we tried differently but when we got to a point where we realized more of our tears were because of what our kids did to us, something snapped inside us.
When something that happened happens a lot we get used to it and we move on to the next new challenge – “me”
This time, guilt redeemed us. We conclude that our kids behaved this way because of how we indulged them. So we shouldn’t indulge this kid any further and the next baby, if any, can sleep in the next room.
It became easier to let them cry and not pick them up. We skip special preparations, let them eat our food, and find that they were far more receptive of the food we ate. We think, Why on earth had I not done this before?
We started to simplify our daily lives. Kids can roll in the dirt all they want so long we clean them afterwards. Every mess our kids make is an opportunity to get them to learn about cleaning up. We make up with our partners who fortunately forgive us for how we behaved.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed – (John 20:24-29 ESV)
Why on earth didn’t anyone tell me?, we asked. Well, our parents did. So did our in-laws and folks who’d been through parenting hardships. But we ignored their well-intended advice because look, our kids are different, we are a different generation, we have spent proper time on prenatal classes and on tons of parenting articles.
We were too busy trying to be the ideal parent that we had in our heads.
You know, you cannot give your faith to your children, you can only show them – Mother Teresa
Parenting is not about being the ideal parent. It’s about raising a little person with a mind of his or her own to the best of your abilities and circumstance. Parenting is about trying to cope the best we can and remembering to look into those little faces, with or without our children.