Parents have perhaps never before been subjected to so much of advice from so many quarters. When all around us floats a blurry haze and a thick hormonal fog, beyond which visibility dims down to the bare minimum, does it actually do any good to posit a particular theory, and seek its validation by denigrating the others. Do we really need to tout the often idealized and to a certain degree eulogized overt displays of parental theories at the cost of it coming across as a rule book of an ostentatious display of performative motherhood or fatherhood?
Do we really need to paint a picture of maternal or paternal perfectionism and the relentless pursuit of what they ‘should do’ rather than focusing on what they ‘can do’? 12 years into parenting, I have seen enough meltdowns to convince my female brain running in the quest of this elusive ‘maternal perfection’ that we are perfectly normal as we are. The ideas, ideologies and strategies by which my mind had been so flummoxed can safely be relegated into the background with no fear of having any adverse effect on the well being of my children or my parenting ways. Along the journey of raising my trio, I have come to some conclusions that I would like to share in this post with you.
- Feeding choices: Let’s start at the very beginning. Have breasts, can nurse. To that extent I agree. But to propagate and sometimes enforce a theory that everyone can and should take to it like a duck takes to water is one I am not convinced on. Sometimes it requires a bit more effort and patience to work your way through. Even then there should be no overt or covert pressure to choose either method of feeding. And a ‘choice’ should in no way be construed to be a yardstick by which our abilities are measured. And should certainly not be used to cast any negative aspersions on the chosen way or method of parenting.
- The social dichotomy: The second point in a way originates and flows from the first one itself. The double standards, dichotomy and chasm that lies between the social propagation of a theory and the actual ease of its public implementation in the context of breastfeeding in public has often had me questioning where I stand. With all the advocacy in favor of breastfeeding I could not and till date cannot tolerate some of the negativity that comes against mothers who choose to feed their babies in public.If I were for a minute to ask you to imagine taking a gourmet meal you just ordered and putting it on the bathroom floor whilst gently lowering the lid of a toilet down and then proceed to enjoy your meal whilst sitting ensconced within the lovely sight and smells around you. Odds are high that you probably would not want to be in such a situation yourself. Then why ask mothers to nurse their children in there?
- Good vs Bad: Nearly every other week we seem to be inundated by a new pregnancy or parenting fad or trend. Their fingers are perfectly positioned on the pressure points of maternal or paternal thought processes and the omnipresent ‘guilt’ factor. They seek to promulgate their particular proposition highlighting the potential adverse effects of noncompliance.But can we really teach parents to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Or simply put, can human beings actually be taught to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Can there be any ‘masterclass’ for parents? And do we really need all the unnecessary intervention.I am not in a position to comment on people other than myself. But, all the parenting classes did for me with my oldest was to set a bar so way up high that the actual implementation of these so called ‘fail safe methods’ led to me only berating myself over them and endless hours of unnecessary self-introspection. The second and third time round I have been a more relaxed and laid-back parent. And, all three of my children are thankfully growing up to be happy and healthy. The lesson I have learnt is that try as much or as hard as we can, there cannot be one single universally applicable ‘masterclass’ for parents. As we well know children do not come having learnt and recited the codes of good conduct. It is a journey of growing up, both for them and for us. Some errors along the way are inevitable. But no toddler gave up on learning to walk just because they had a tumble or fell over once!
- Pedestal or Pit: I would like to believe that most parents like me are standing somewhere in the middle. We are definitely not in the pits and do not want to have anything to do with the pedestal. At least believing in this gives me the motivation to surge ahead with my own belief system. I believe extremes never work just as ideals do not exist in the real world. It is all about striking the middle ground, maintaining a stance and attitude that works for you and moving ahead at a pace that suits you. It is all about starting out on a path that appeals to you and your sensibilities and be free from the stigma of conformity. And when it comes to the interests of your children, it is all about standing up for them, for yourself, speaking your mind and making sure that you are being heard.
In these 12 years I have learnt to be…
- More social. At least on most occasions. The dawning of the sudden realization that the calm, cool, collected, refined and suave mom in front of me is standing in the same deep shit makes for an excellent ice-breaker!
- More patient. Remember, there is paramount stress on the word ‘more’ in this context. It is a relative term directly proportionate to the time and type of day I happen to be experiencing.
- Have a much more stronger stomach. I’d like very much to move on from this point as quickly as possible. Lest I trod on a tender nerve or delude my brain into thinking that I am actually talking about strong ab muscles. Which, in this case are conspicuously making their presence known in the face of their apparent absence. I can almost here my brain snort!The strength I am actually talking about is that of my stomach which has bravely faced and digested numerous instances of ‘poopalanches’, ‘vomiting volcanoes’ and ‘fountains of regurgitation’!
- I am learning to master and ace the art of negotiations from my children who have clearly nailed it down to the ‘T’. As and when I receive the prerequisite grace marks to pass I shall let you know my humble conquests in this particular field!
- More accepting of myself for who I am, wobbles and foibles included. The bikini body though certainly inspirational shall have to wait and that is perfectly alright.
Above all, I have learnt to laugh, tumble and roll with my children. I have learnt that tears can stream down even to express happiness. And the heart can love so much!
To sum this post up, I feel there are numerous excellent ways of bringing our children up. Though none can guarantee a hassle free or perfect outcome. And we should not be so fixated on raising ‘perfect’ humans that we forget the child in them.
And just like that in the shrill cacophony of child rearing advice and unwanted parental sermons one day, a clarity and insight pierced through to make known that I am ‘enough’. I am actually ‘more than enough’.
This thought found resonance in the three beautiful smiles and happy eyes surrounding me. Suddenly, the mist rose, the fog cleared and the haze parted ways. Clarity rose to the occasion and divulged what had up until now remained hidden from my purview. The sun was and had been always shining bright and happy down upon us!
I would love to know the twists and travails of your own parenting journey.
Leave me your comments and I’d love to start talking to you….