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4 years ago I came to know that there’s another life within me. And these 4 years of parenting have been super fun, mind blowing and have taught me so many lessons already. I am all the more eager to see what the coming years will bring! But at the same time, sometimes I do want the time to slow down. My little baby girl has grown so fast! There was a time when I was so nervous to hold her in my hands and wished that she would grow up quickly, there was a time when I wished her to walk quickly, there was a time when I was anxious about when she would speak full sentences and there was a time when I wanted her to recite A to Z. And now, here she is, doing all that and much, much, much more!
All these years I've experienced so many emotions - I've felt happy, elated, proud, complete, and have also felt anxious, worried, angry, irritated, frustrated and have easily experienced extremes. Happy times are great, amazing and beautiful memories forever. But recently I've been analyzing times when I've experienced all the negative emotions. With the spiritual talks that I keep listening and articles that I keep reading, I see lots of connections with parenting. And have started feeling that just with little consciousness and awareness, I can make this ever so beautiful relationship much more fun and much more enjoyable.
And more and more I keep thinking in this direction, this thought is becoming more and more deep-rooted that Nihu is NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY. She is not a task someone has given me. She is the most beautiful gift I've received and has come to me so I can enjoy with her.
The word RESPONSIBILITY signifies some sort of burden to me. Some kind of pressure. And now to think of it, I feel there's immense pressure on parents these days - to be perfect parents, to raise perfect children, who are good human beings, easily accepted by the society, who respect everyone, who do not behave badly, who are social, who excel in studies, who are amazing with some extracurricular activities, who can swim, who can dance, who can play music, etc. etc. etc. and trust me, this list is endless. I've found myself in such tense, high pressure situations already, even when Nihu is just 3 years 4 months old! And this list is what I can think of at this stage, I am sure as she grows up, there will come many many new situations, where I'll find myself unprepared.
Also, with responsibility, comes the fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of something that might never actually happen! And we find ourselves sailing in the "what if" boat. I sometimes have to tell myself to give myself a break! And give Nihu a break!! And if I don’t, my husband reminds me, “stop freaking out!! Let her be!!!!”
I think we, as parents expect a lot from our children, that they SHOULD behave in a certain manner and we take it on us as our complete responsibility to make them behave in that manner. And when things don't turn out to be as we expect, which is the case some times, we either take it out on our kids or take it out on ourselves, ultimately disturbing the calmness of our mind and the peace within our respective souls. And mind you, age of the child does not matter!! An example that most of you could relate to – the right age of getting married in India!!! I got married at the age of 25 ‘cos I wanted to but I’ve seen countless examples where parents keep on forcing, troubling, blackmailing their 30 years old to get married! And very likely in such cases, the children (or the adults, actually) are enjoying and not even paying heed to their parent’s requests and the parents end up disturbing and troubling themselves!!! Not their fault though, ‘cos their behavior and attitude are tuned to the “appropriate societal norms” and somewhere they feel it’s their responsibility to make their children behave and act accordingly.
What if we accept this notion that our kids are not our RESPONSIBILITY? Soul consciousness has taught me that the soul has many many journeys to take. The beautiful soul in my child has already experienced a lot in so many lifetimes and has already decided the lessons that she has to learn and experience in this lifetime. So if the soul has to experience challenges and struggles, she will experience them, no matter how much easy we as parents make the life for her. If the soul has to experience a happy, peaceful, contented life, she will experience that, no matter how much ambitious, competitive attitude we try to bring in her.
So, is there a point in spending my present moments in thinking, oh my god, she didn't act like that, I don't know what’s going to happen. What does that lady, that man, the society think about my child, and about me? Am I a bad parent? Etc etc etc.
As a parent, as a mother, I have to teach her good behavior, I have to teach her right and wrong, I have to teach her to handle her emotions and I have to teach her about the consequences of her actions. And at no point, I will shy away from these important roles that I have to play. But I want to do them with the whole intention of helping this beautiful soul grow, who has come to me. And not because this is the way that is expected from her and from me. ‘Cos the moment this thought comes that she should behave like this and I'm responsible for her to behave in such a manner, the equation changes. Then the emotions like anger, frustration, worry creep up.
But when I accept her in the first place and I accept that it's ok what she is doing, then I can talk to her peacefully and calmly. And once I give her that respect, that acceptance, she does open up.
Children at this age are experiencing things at such exponential rate that we can't imagine as adults. And many a times, poor kids are not able to communicate what's going on and don't know how to handle their emotions. And when they don't know what to say and how to handle such strong waves of emotions, they resort to crying, screaming and sometimes hitting as this is what they've done as infants.
We, as parents have a very important role to play in helping them understand what's going on. And we can play this role most effectively when we leave our own baggage behind. When we drop the images we have in our minds of the perfect parents and the perfect children. When we remove those deep-rooted pre-conceived notions we have about how children should behave. And when we can whole-heartedly accept our own children completely as they are.