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There’s this teenager in the apartment right above mine who plays LOUD music on her music system at 8 am on the dot every single day. While some would consider it a nuisance, I actually enjoy staying musically up to date this way and have some fascinating conversations about latest songs, artists and lyrics with her whenever we meet.
Her choice of song this morning was “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber ( arrghhhh ! ), and for some reason the following lyrics from the song really stuck with me and got me thinking :
“See I never thought that I could walk through fire, I never thought that I could take the burn,
I never had the strength to take it higher, until I reached the point of no return.”
Somehow, these words seemed to reflect my motherhood journey. When I was told I was expecting twins, I remained fearful right till the very end about my basic capabilities as a mother, my biggest worry being how would I love two of them equally? My husband, bless him, constantly used to quote his inspiration, Bob Marley, to give me courage:
“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”
So I survived. Survived the extremely difficult twin pregnancy, that included two emergency trips to the ER, two months of complete bed rest and a hilarious C-Section, survived being told the news that I was a proud mommy of two boys ( gasp ! ) and survived the extremely difficult and nerve wracking first year of my boys lives until sleep deprived, fatigued and extremely proud of ourselves, my husband and I high fived each other on the twins first birthday, exhilarated that we had come out of it sane and empowered with the knowledge that if we survived year one, the rest of their lives would be a cakewalk.
Oh, how the Gods must have laughed at us! Year one was simply the trial run. Year Two ushered in the “Terrible Twos”, and my journey has quickly switched from Terrific to Terrifying. I had to make so many changes to my Parenting Style to adapt to the ever changing nature of my boys, and more essentially, to hold onto my sanity.
More importantly, I learnt that it is not a good idea for a mother to say “never”. This word will come back to haunt us when we are at our wits end, and laugh at us in the face. I realized that I have been highly unrealistic, and more than a little unreasonable. Growing up my mom always said to me, “Never say never!” Now, I truly realize the importance of those words. I have had to eat humble pie so many times in the past year, my second year as a mother, all coming from when I reversed my “rules” and parenting “guidelines” to make my journey a little easier and a lot smoother.
“I will never tell my kids that they have to do something just because I said so!” ( Haha, this was the easiest one to forgo. Now, I actually have a magnet on my fridge that says – Because I’m your mom and I said so! )
“I will never force my kids to eat something they don’t like just because it is good for them!” (The twins first year saw me turn into a nutrition obsessed woman who fed her kids all the foods with good “fats” as soon as they were allowed to eat solids so that they could gain weight quickly. This stance continues, for example, I feed my kids oats every morning, come hail or sunshine, even though I am sure they find it as unappetizing as I do. I figure I only have a year or so more of force feeding my kids healthy stuff and keeping them off the junk that they will start eating as they grow older anyways, no matter how much I try to control them ! )
“I will never allow my kids to fight with and pester each other!” (This one makes me laugh so much now. Who am I to control their personalities? Lately my boys have started finding it funny to pick things off each other’s plates to eat, pull each other’s hair, snatch whatever toy is being held by the other, and sometimes bite each other. I figure this is happening only because there’s two of them, and for now I have decided to wait and see how things progress before intervening to bring some kind of order.)
“I will never have crumbs on the car floor and the car seats.” (Yea right. In the car with two mischievous toddlers eating papdi to keep them engaged during the car ride, am I really going to create a fuss about some stray crumbs on the floor? I have bigger battles to fight! )
“I will never allow my kids to scribble on the walls.” (Seeing as it is highly impractical to keep things like pens, crayons and markers out of the boys reach at all times, especially so as we have two elder kids in the house as well, this one was an easy one to let go. I can now peacefully marvel at the works of art being created on my home walls, and save money for a paint job on the house when they are a little older. As long as they are scribbling on my walls and not the neighbors, it’s all good.)
“I will never yell in public, nor let my kids yell in public.” (I discovered through experience that this one’s upkeep would require you to be superwoman, which I am not. Supermom yes, Superwoman not. Mostly I yell, and I don’t really care how loudly, to get my kids attentions, for them stop, turn around, and come back to me before they get lost. I also yell when they are about to touch toilets, trash cans, or let go of my hand. As long as my kids are secure, I don’t care who’s staring at me for being a screaming monster.)
“I will never dress my boys in similar clothes, so what if they are twins? They need to develop their own personalities.” (This one I gave up rather quick. After all, clothes don’t define personalities, do they? Most days, I try to keep one item of their clothing matched, like checked shorts or similar colored T-shirts, because trying to keep track of two different sets of clothes in EXACTLY the same size got to be too logistically impractical.)
“I will never say that!” (I've heard parents say the silliest things over the years. I knew once I became a mom I could come up with more original, clever things to say, but I admit I have said it all. )
I no longer have any room in my life to say never. From now on when I find myself thinking, “I’m never going to ___________,” I’m going to STOP.
I feel like I can breathe again. I feel like I finally get to be the mom I was always meant to be.
Because honestly how can I know that it will NEVER happen? How can I be sure I won’t WANT it to happen someday? And is there something WRONG if it does happen?
Parenting is hard work. Every one of us has strengths and weaknesses. We all have different hobbies and interests. We have different kids with different personalities. We have different homes and different parenting styles. But when it all comes down to it we are all just doing the best that we can.
If you find yourself looking at others and thinking, “I’m never going to do that,” or if you are feeling inadequate and stuck in a “my kids were never going to do that” funk, just remember, I once said that I will never allow my kids to play their music so loud that it affects another person, and that’s what started this whole blog.
So from now on, mark my words, I will never say never again!
(Well, maybe sometimes.)