After we got done with our religious meeting, I was approached by an older woman, probably someone’s grandma. With the kindest smile on her face she told me “Your daughter is so well behaved—you’re doing such a great job with her!”
Of course, for any mother, it is the biggest compliment to be told that her children are well behaved. Pleased as I was, I couldn’t help but take her well-intentioned praise, with a pinch of salt.
Earlier that day, like almost every day, my little devil of a daughter threw tantrums at me for not allowing her to eat the ‘improper’ kind of lunch. There was this one day when she cried awfully for not giving her my make-up brushes. The neighbors are possibly used to her loud screams and ‘I’m sorrrrryyy’ which follow inevitably a couple of hours later.
But in spite of people coming and telling me how good of a mother I am, I don’t often feel like a stellar specimen of parenting. I often worry myself with regards to my parenting style and whether it is all good or not. For instance, on occasion when I have to force my child to use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, whether forcing is the right way to go about it or not. All in all, it is the pressure that I feel of keeping my child away from becoming a bad person that torments my mind most of the time.
When we go for these religious meetings, I scream internally wondering what I can I do different to make sure she grows up to be a good person. She tears papers. She just won’t sit down in one place. She screams and cries when she doesn’t get what she wants. And then suddenly, when someone asks her to come and sit with them, she becomes all nice and silent. Sometimes, while she is sitting with someone, she becomes so well-behaved and kind that I wonder where my baby is. When I do find her sitting beside someone, I see her content with smallest of things like a pen or a lip balm. She sits so calmly, without causing any destruction. I sometimes ask myself why she doesn’t stay that way all the time!
And then I take a long breath.
I see how good a baby she becomes when she is with someone else. She just sits peacefully, minding her own business and makes sure that she isn’t being troublesome or annoying. She goes through the pages of the books without tearing them while she sits next to my friend. This is what the elderly people see and later come and tell me “you’re doing such a great job with her”.
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And in those moments, I can’t help but be proud of my daughter and myself. Who would’ve known that a monster cry baby could be a little angel when she needs to be well-behaved, prim and proper around people?
It is in these moments when I forget all the tantrums she throws at me when nobody is around. Maybe being loud and naggy around me allows her to express herself and her feelings to the fullest without wondering what others think of her. Maybe she does this because she knows that there is nowhere she is safer than when she is with her mama and that no matter what, her mama won’t ever leave her.
It’s an unspoken bond and no matter how much you try to express it, you will never be able to find enough words to show. When she is with me, she knows she can push her boundaries. She can run around wildly. She can try out new things. She can jump and sometimes it even means she can yell and be a brat.
Even if she becomes really nasty with me sometimes, she makes up for it a lot more when she is in a good mood. And honestly, it’s in moments like this when I know that I’m doing something right.
Image source: Flickr/AngryJulieMonday