Guilt is an overwhelming and brutal feeling. I use a word as strong as "brutal" because sometimes the emotional guilt we feel when it comes to our loved ones, including children, can be hard to endure.
As parents, we think we need to be perfect and on the ball every second of every day. In India, moms everywhere tend to do a "comparative study" of other children with their own, which sometimes adds unrealistic expectations in their minds of what their own child "should" be doing and not doing and moreover what level they, as moms, should be rising up to. I have seen this here in India more than anywhere else in the world. Over the years, an image of a "model" mom has been created in everyone's minds, which many moms tend to compare themselves to. A model mom is calm and composed whenever dealing with her child, rarely gets stressed out, knows exactly how to discipline him/her in times of disobedience and never wavers, and has everything planned out from sleep patterns and food menus to schools and evening classes. Even without help at home, a model mom is on the top of things. Sounds perfect right?
Over time, I have learned that there is something that trumps guilt, and that is to say "It's OKAY."
When my 2.5-year-old son is acting up, throwing things out of the window and shouting NO for everything, I think to myself, "Be calm, compose yourself, and don't shout back." Isn't that what websites and books tell us? I have read that the "right" thing to do is to not shout back when your child is shouting, wait for it to pass or distract him, and then address the issue. Trust me, I have tried doing this. Sometimes it works and sometimes it has the opposite effect. So when I do start shouting back at him, the GTH (Guilt Trip Hormone) kicks in where I immediately start beating myself up for having come down to the level of a two-year-old. I think all moms have this chemical substance in them just waiting to be unleashed. The first thought that runs through my mind is "what kind of a mother am I? I am supposed to be setting a good example for my son and here I am shouting back at him." My son is someone my mother likes to call an "old soul with a sensitive and inclusive personality." Once the shouting from both our sides has finished, nine times out of 10, he is the one who comes up to me and gives me a big hug and kiss. All is forgiven, and the GTH subsides for the time being. There have been times during all this in my frustration when I have unforgivably thought to myself, "Would I have been happier with a different life and one without kids?"
Our children will always be harder on us moms, more than anyone else, since they see us as their primary caretaker. This pushes us to extremes that we never knew existed and also pushes us to think thoughts which we cannot control, leading to guilt. But over time, I have learned that there is something that trumps guilt, and that is to say "It's OKAY."
1. It's OKAY to lose your cool with your child sometimes and not always be poker face. Your child won't hold it against you. Everyone snaps when they reach their saturation point.
2. It's OKAY to feel like giving up. You are not actually going to do it.
3. It's OKAY to reminisce about your pre-parenting days, without feeling guilty.
4. It's OKAY to ask for help. No one can do it all on their own. Kick back with a bottle of wine when you need it and let someone else do the work.
5. It's OKAY to sometimes think that your child may be the devil in disguise.
6. It's OKAY to not be impeccably dressed from morning to night when you are tired or have a 27-hour day ahead of you.
7. It's OKAY to feed your child cereal for lunch one day if you do not have a cook at home and don't have time yourself to make a full meal and/or can't cook to save your life. I, without a doubt, fall into the latter category!
8. It's OKAY to let your child get bored. You don't have to provide continuous entertainment.
9. It's OKAY to want to be somewhere else now and then. Take a day off for yourself and go to the spa, shopping, drinking and dancing with your friends. Your child will be happy hanging out with your parents, in-laws, nanny etc and may also be a bit relieved to get rid of you for some time!
10. It's OKAY to cry if it gets too much.
Leave me your comments here on how this post resonates with you!
This post was previously published in The Bubbly Blogcast.