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At some point on the parenting journey, we need to let go, relinquish control as a parent. Also, even if you have books to guide you, you need to make your own decisions at times.
I had been still groggy from the aftereffects of anaesthesia when the nurse handed me my bundle of joy. A baby boy! One glance at him, and all my maternal instincts rushed to the fore. I cradled him, and promised him that I would raise him differently than my parents had raised me.
No nannies and crèches for him. I had already left my high-paying job. I wanted to be a hands-on mom. Dr Benjamin Spock’s book for new mothers was now my friend, philosopher and guide.
My husband had a touring job, and I had to become both mother and father to my son, on most days. As a result, my son had not bonded very well with my husband. I remember an incident from when he was three years old. My husband had come home after a long tour, and when he tried to hug our son, he bawled and screamed, clung to me, and the only thing he kept saying was, “Shoo away this uncle!” This shook both of us, and my husband decided to decrease his tours. But even though he wanted to, it was not practicable, and as a result, our son became completely dependent on only me.
Soon, he joined pre-school, and enjoyed it. When he went to the main school, he soon became the apple of the teachers’ eyes. He was neat, diligent, and always a topper. The only problem, which was a big one, was that he was very demanding, becoming a total brat and throwing tantrums if his demands were not met. I tried disciplining him, tried not giving in to his demands, but at times I was at my wits’ end. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that my husband was never around, and I was effectively parenting him single-handedly. All along the way, Dr Spock’s book was my guide.
He grew out of this phase as he grew older. He was a good student and sailed through school with flying colours. He turned out to be an introvert, quite shy, finding it difficult to make many friends. Since he was so quiet, a well-mannered boy of few words, people would be quite impressed by him, a boy of few words, but the words of wisdom. I was happy that the brattish phase had gone, and I had been able to rear him well, as compared to the many unruly, ill-mannered children I saw around. I was proud of my boy, proud of a job well done.
But all good things don’t last forever and the transition came soon after he had finished the 10th grade at school. Home became a battlefield. He began to argue with me on everything, making me the villain who was spoiling his life! His not having many friends was blamed on me, on my strictness with him. I would not allow him to go to late night parties, would ask about his whereabouts every time he had to go out. I was against the whizzing around on trendy bikes that his friends seemed to love.
I discouraged junk food, seeing to a balanced diet, always. I always made it a point to go for all his parent-teacher meetings, something most of his peers’ parents hardly ever did. I hated the ragamuffin look that teens sported around, preferring a decent look in clothes – this last thing really roused him to a fury – I was now hampering his style!
There were battles on what college to go to. He felt I doubted all his decisions, and almost overnight, he metamorphosed from an angel to a brat. I was shattered. I had spent all my life trying to bring him up well, being the good parent. I have directed all my energy in making him a good human being. During his past two years at college, he was away, and I was eaten up by the ‘empty nest syndrome’.
Where did I go wrong? I have tried to introspect, but I have been unable to come up with answers. Did I try too hard? Did his father’s absence mean that something was missing from his upbringing? Was I doing wrong by being too involved in the parenting? As they say, Love’s Labour Lost.
I have decided to let him loose, let him live his life, not mollycoddle him anymore, let him experience his failures and learn from them. Leave the rest to God. Patience. Persistence. Perseverance. K Sera Sera.
No book can teach us good parenting. It can only show the way. We have to learn it on the job. And we have to learn to let go.
Image source: mother getting son ready for school by Shuttershock.
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