I always say that parenting is just about a new lesson everyday. The people running the show are so unpredictable that nothing, absolutely nothing, works. No amount of prep-work works either. You will realise that you had inherent skills, which you didn't know you had, but you do, and you are doing a damn good job of it. You are spontaneous, creative, witty, patient, a multitasker, and so much more. The previous year has been a year full of learning and getting to know that every child is brilliant.
1. If she doesn't make it to the top she isn't a loser and you are not a bad parent: I think this was the toughest lesson for me to learn. We all have set expectations for our kids and we all want them to achieve something that we have set for them. There could be multiple reasons for you to believe that this would be better for your kids and this is why they must achieve that. At first, when the daughter didn't achieve what I thought was right for her, I was miserable, and I made her feel miserable. I was so wrong. Children move on but I couldn't. I probably couldn't because I believe that hard work always pays and this time it didn't. I was never worried about what the world would think. It was the least of my concerns but I was worried that this is just the first step and we didn't make it through.
2. Don't compare your kids with another: As parents, we are constantly in a battleground trying to do so many things that we don't realise how our children pick up everything. We probably think we are inspiring them but they are looking at it as pure comparison. They don't want to be pitted against someone else. They are anyways tired of the competition surrounding them all the time. They want to feel special just like we do and they want to be respected for who they are.
3. My kids hate posing for pictures and I need to respect that: They think the aunties and uncles of the world are over-obsessing about clicking pictures. She loves clicking pictures though, and I need to respect that she has a mind of her own and that she needs her privacy. She doesn't think that each time we are going out and she is all dressed-up, is reason enough for the world to know. She likes taking fun and crazy pictures and believes in spontaneity. So next time you ask your child to smile because he/she is on camera think whether he/she actually likes it or not!
4. You can never do enough: I think moms especially go through this, and I am no different. There is no limit to the amount of work and play you can do with your kids so don't drive yourself up the wall because someone else is doing a lot more or seemingly doing a lot more. There is just no way to measure how much is enough. It's not worth feeling guilty about either. I know you might say that I don't obsess over it but the fact is, you know you do. That's why you have mommy bad days. 'Mommy bad days' according to me are days when you feel incompetent as a parent and you feel like nothing is right.
5. My child is an average kid and I am an average mom: If you have a kid who probably loves to do things on her own or is not the best at each activity she does--it's okay. I don't remember being the best at anything either. But I am happy. Don't let the medal winners or world champions shake you up or your confidence that your child is not gifted and will never excel some day. I cannot even remember the amount of mistakes that I have made while cooking, baking, taking care of my kids or in all my relationships, but you move on. I am not the best cook but my kids still love what I cook, I have forgotten to send so many things to school but she never yells or shouts at me even, if it meant that she was the only one who didn't do a particular activity in class. There are several occasions when we tried baking a cake or cookie and it was either burnt, overcooked, undercooked or just plain chewy. But we figured out how to eat it. Never did she tell me, "Mom you are a terrible baker".
6. Calm the F*** down: I have realised that we need to just calm down as parents. If kids didn't have tantrums, and they weren't rude, or you were never hated by your kids you've not been a good enough parent. What you see in pictures and status updates is not the whole story. There is a lot more than what meets the eye. So, don't let those perfect mom and child photos screw-up your day. Instead, just look at creating your own great picture or moment.
7. Other parents are just as lost as you are: So, you always believe that you are clueless about a lot of things but the fact is parenting is learning on the go and there is no way you can know it all. The others are probably just as lost as you are but they don't show it or they are lost about different things.
8. Instilling the right values in children is the most important role a parent has to play: You can outsource every bit of parenting but there is no way you can outsource this one. I strongly believe that this is the one thing that will be more important than even education in the times to come. This is the one quality that will shape them as individuals and get them ready for any challenge.
9. I've learned to laugh: I have probably stopped losing my head over spilt milk, dirty clothes, scribbled walls, incomplete snack boxes or smart retorts. And, I mean this. I drove myself crazy over-thinking how do they just drop milk, but the point is they do. How does the bottle of poster colours just open and turn itself upside down, but it does. I used to probably get upset when my older one retorted and shared her opinion, but now I see the humour in it and see how they are perceiving it and it's quite innocent and witty. I have learnt to laugh at myself and that's why it's easy.
10. Parenting can be lonely at various stages: I realise this even more today as my parents are ageing and I am not there every moment to address the smallest needs they may have every day. When your child is really small, it can be lonely because he doesn't respond and tell you that he likes you, enjoys your company and you mean the world to him. He grows up very quickly and moves away into a structured program of school, friends and activities. You don't seem to fit-in except for just monitoring over a lot of things, then your kids actually grow up and move away to university or get married. A couple with kids in university told me this when I bumped into them at Tedx this year that don't miss a moment with your kids unless it's something really important. They grow up too fast and you have very little time with them. I see that with my parents, where they probably have a world in and around their kids but we are so occupied in meeting acquaintances that the important people get missed.
11. It's okay if she is confused at six and doesn't know what she wants to pursue: It took me time to get this straight. I still don't know what I want to do, how will this six-year-old. I feel so lost with all the choices that we have that she is bound to not know what she wants. The important part is for me to just expose her to everything and give her enough time to make a decision. Support her incase she changes her mind. I know my parents did.
12. Not to use love as a carrot to discipline kids: This is one of the most important lessons, and I realised that at every juncture of parenting I did this. Meal times, classes, getting ready. Love was no longer unconditional and it felt like barter each time. This had to change. I wanted to stop making my kids believe that my love was conditional and they had to please me each time and overrule their feelings.
13. Never Say Never: This is a thumb-rule for parenting. Never say never to anything. Kids are an unpredictable specie and if you feel that your kids would never do it, you are wrong.