Pacifier

As a new mother, I had somehow developed this belief, that my success as a mother was tied to my ability to stop my baby’s cries, as quickly as possible. If she cried, I felt that I wasn’t a good mother. The outcome was, the moment Pari would cry, I would race to get any and everything I had seen to comfort her.

Needless to say, this attitude was taking toll on my already burnt out physical and psychological state and helping me get no-where close to what I had often read and heard about the bliss of motherhood.

The point I wish to make here is, in the process to trying to literally shut her up I was missing on valuable opportunities to really listen to her cries, understand them, develop appropriate responses and even finding solutions to the problems triggering her cries.

When I gave deep thought to what I have been doing, I saw a bigger problem snowballing. An understanding of which made me stop what I had been doing in the initial months of my motherhood and attain insight over what I should actually be doing instead.

When I was around ten years of age I had read an article in Reader’s Digest. It was a non-fiction story written by a mother. There was something so powerful in that story that it stuck to my mind and I have never been able to forget it.

The story revolved around a happy household of a couple and their ten year old daughter. The mother was a homemaker and took pride in being an active participant in all the activities that were a part of her daughter’s life.

Be it craft or swimming lessons, academics or even visits to her friend’s place the mother would encourage her at every step and try her level best to help her excel in all she did.

The mother was proud of the fact that she was open and quite frank with her daughter and they shared a bond more on the level of friends/sisters as against mother and daughter. The daughter shared all that she did during her day at school and her friends with her mother.

On a few occasions, the daughter subtly hinted her mother that she disliked the way the vegetable vendor in their area looked at her. The mother tried to calm her fears  by uttering what most parents say, that it must have been her imagination for what would a local sabziwala have to do with a school going girl, who never even purchased anything from him.

One fine day, it was raining pretty heavy and the daughter returned home with all her clothes ruined in mud. The mother got worried at the sight and asked her what had happened. The daughter simply said she’d slipped in a puddle of rain water and rushed to freshen up and change her clothes.

After a long bath and freshening up she went over to sleep in her room. The mother and father had to attend a party that evening and soon they got busy with their own tasks.

In the night around bed-time when the daughter refused to eat, her mother asked her daughter if everything was alright, was she hurt and many other questions on the same line, to which the daughter replied in a plain NO and went off to sleep.

Life moved on. Many years down the line, when the daughter was in college one of her stories won an award in a prestigious writing contest. The story was even published in a popular magazine.

While the whole world was busy praising the writing skills of the daughter, something broke her mum deeply. Within seconds of having read the story she (the mother) knew it wasn’t fiction. It was about a young girl of ten years who was sexually assaulted on a rainy day by a local vegetable vendor.

The mother who never failed in praising herself for the kind of open and frank relation she had with her daughter now realized how she had failed on picking up the signs, how she’d missed on noting her daughter’s quiet suffering.

I do not know why this story has lingered in my memory over the years, but I do know that it holds a very strong message. The message that comes out loud and clear when thought over with a clear mind, that we need to encourage our children to speak up. Share their hurt, their pain, their guilt, their true feelings and most importantly not to judge them for being open to us.

Having said that, as a parent I have been thinking on these lines from a long time. While we encourage our children to be frank and friendly to us, do we really give enough weightage to what our kids tell us? Do we always take them seriously without our pre-set thinking pattern preceding our replies to them? Don’t we over-discipline them to make them fear questioning our actions? Do we ever think beyond hushing them up for things that in our belief are irrelevant and seemingly harmless?

The list of questions can be endless. But the gist of it all lies in the fact that we need to change our attitude, have a deeper thought of how we treat our kids. Giving a honey coated pacifier in our baby’s mouth to keep him/her off from crying isn’t going to cure the cause that is triggering the cry.

Look for the signs, don’t try to erase them. Pause to listen, find and treat the cause and never mistrust a child no-matter how irrelevant their fear, doubt or pain may appear.

While we teach our children about life, they teach us what life is all about.

The song on my mind: Ae zindagi gale laga le ~ Sadma

33 thoughts on “Pacifier

  1. Very good point. Children are often shy/afraid of telling certain things to elders and they think that even if they say, elders might think that they are lying or imagining. While some points are irrelevant, other points might be valid. The best thing as a parent might be to develop patient and not dismiss all that one’s child says & try to let the children know which things they ought to share and which ones they can keep to themselves.

    Destination Infinity

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  2. I completely agree with you. Even in my case my slightest injury or wound was discarded with something like ” Arre it is nothing. You are a strong girl.” This has led to me believing that even the biggest of injury today physical / emotional need not be addressed to as I am strong girl, which is wrong. Wounds need attention and they are supposed to heal. And not crying over a wound no way establishes your strength, I guess. This I have learnt today and I hope I dont repeat such things with my children.

    Thanks for sharing such a heart warming tale!

    TC

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  3. What a powerful story, I’m sure it will stick with me for some time as well. I couldn’t agree more with your message, it is hard to suppress the maternal urge to immediately quiet the crying, but far more important to find the reason.

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  4. Wow…U conveyed the message through such a lovely post…..
    “Look for the signs, don’t try to erase them. Pause to listen, find and treat the cause and never mistrust a child no-matter how irrelevant their fear, doubt or pain may appear.”…so meaningful……You linked the simple incident of pacifying Pari with this line so nicely….

    Hugs to Pari and you 🙂

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  5. I loved this post ME. The story that you shared from RD and also your thoughts.
    And this will stay with for long.
    I love that song – Ae zindagi gale lagale …. beautiful !

    As you have rightly pointed out, I guess, all we need to do is listen. it is probably one of the hardest things to do – to listen with your eyes and ears, heart and soul.

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  6. Gosh! thats such a horribly sad thing to happen 😦

    I guess you are right ME, at the end of the day, we need to learn to pick up signs…which is often very difficult when we are involved in day to day activities…we need to ‘listen’ to your children…

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  7. Thoughtful post!! I always try to listen to him and understand what he is trying to say..
    We have to do what we can do to the best of our ability. WHich does not meant hat we ignore our own dreams or wishes. Some parents are so very occupied with their kid that when they grow up and leave home, parents do not know what to do with their lines. and some are the exact opposite.
    To maintain a balance is very tough.

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    1. I agree, maintaining a balance in everything we do is very important. Be it in disciplining or being patient with kids or giving our (parents) lives due time and consideration over the years as a parent.

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  8. Oh I so remember reading this story you mentioned above, ME and also remember getting immensely moved by it.

    “Look for the signs, don’t try to erase them. Pause to listen, find and treat the cause and never mistrust a child no-matter how irrelevant their fear, doubt or pain may appear.” That IS the key, ME! The best we can do is assure and reassure our children that we WILL hear them out, be there for them always.

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  9. Smita

    You know what my Mom says about kids crying? It is an exercise which is as essential as laughing. The lungs of the bachhu grow when they cry. Though as parents we might want to stop it but the fact that they cry doesn’t mean we are wrong or we are not doing something properly. I feel though we should be protective but there is a very thin line between being that and being over protective.
    The story that you have quoted is very real and half the times parents do nto listen to what their kdis are saying but trust me the incidents that u have quoted are not co related, no seriously!
    When u r not letting Pari cry it doesn’t mean that you are not letting her express it is just that because of the circumstances you feel you shud be giving all love to her (even the father’s share) but believe u me you are not lacking by any means. So do not fret too much and try to be as normal as possible, you do have a huge responsibility on your able shoulders but do not let it stress you too much! Chill!

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    1. Thank you for making me see things in an altogether different perspective. I too have felt on many occasions that I have been over stressing at times when I should just sit and enjoy.
      Though I am trying to get there 🙂
      Hugs and thank you Smita for being there 🙂

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  10. Crying is just a symptom and you definitely need to know the cause of it. That is the root of the problem. While it is true that the baby needs to cry..it is a sort of an exercise for her lungs and all that, it is also necessary to identify the various ways your baby cries.
    I was the same, it just had to be perfect whatever I did with my baby, be it consoling him, feeding, burping, I knew it had to be done perfectly. But then nobody is perfect and you realise it after some time. Instead of trying to be successful at parenting it is important to develop a rapport and bond with the baby and the knack to identify any change in behaviour. You will develop it instinctively soon enough if you haven’t already. And believe me never ignore your instincts.. 🙂

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  11. That’s a very moving story. We have been kids too but then it is very difficult for us to understand what is running in a kid’s mind. I have a friend who has a college going son and I am always amazed by the relationship they share. They fight, crib like any other mom and son but then he tells her everything he does, like, “I am bunking my classes”, “I found this girl very cute”I mean everything. I just love the transparency.

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    1. It is a great achievement as a parent to have attained a that kind of a relationship with your child….I am so happy for your friend 😀
      Thank you for sharing this Tharani 🙂

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  12. Awesome post this is!!!
    My amma can find out just by the tone if I am angry or upset or happy. Just a hello on phone can tell her that I am terribly hungry!! *proud* *proud*

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    1. You are right Reema, the temptation to overlook and ignore what all kids try to tell us in their own words and is often too much with the countless tasks at hand and the stresses parenting brings along.

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