When I chose to take up ‘Parenting’ as the theme for the A to Z Challenge this April, the one thing I had in mind was, I wanted to reflect on my life as a parent from 26 different angles.
I was desperate to get an understanding as to where I stood, what exactly I am doing to have a positive impact on my child’s growth, why does being a parent feel so stressful most of the time, so forth and so on.
I am not a new parent but in my journey as a parent, the two things I have understood are:
- Parenting is not a trick that one can master. It is an onward journey where a new challenge lies at every turn. Nothing can prepare us for it but to keep going and learning from our experiences is the only way.
- There are no Sundays or holidays in parenting. One must learn to enjoy being a parent for it to not feel like a responsibility or a stressful job.
In the many topics I have covered so far, one thing has been clear, the relationship of a parent and child begins with the promise of unconditional love.
The key to parenting lies in unconditional love.
Urban dictionary defines Unconditional Love as To love somebody with no conditions or circumstances: to love completely.
That is exactly what we wish our relationship with our children to be.
But is it so in reality?
Do I love my child without expecting her to obey my instructions?
Do I let my child make choices and let her learn from his experiences without trying to influence her choices to ways that I want her to act?
Do I not pour my stress out on my child simply because I am in an authority position at times?
The list might be longer than I’d like, but what’s obvious is the fact that I’m failing at loving my child unconditionally.
Does giving selflessly to our children all the time, putting our children’s wishes above ours qualify as unconditional love?
When I delve deep into this rationale, I find that constantly putting my own needs, my life on a back burner would only make me say something I don’t like when my parents say to me “How can you treat us like this after all that we have sacrificed for you?”
That is more like asking a price for the sacrifices we’ve made. Nowhere close to being unconditional or love for that matter.
“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:
Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart.
Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it — do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions?
So, for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.” ― Vera Nazarian
Love exists. Agreed.
But, the principle clause “No matter what” needs to be satisfied.
I believe, to be able to give unconditionally, I need to have an unending resource of the thing I wish to offer. Be it love, joy, acceptance, peace or appreciation, before sharing it with our children we need to possess it in plenty.
Investigating further, I realized that somewhere down the line, to be happy, at peace with myself and loving myself enough requires me to pay enough attention to my well-being. Spare myself ‘me’ time to relax and rejuvenate. I should have made peace with my past.
It sounds like too much work and definitely calls for an investment of time and humongous effort. Making room to watch what I’m eating instead of gulping down the leftovers from my child’s plate.
Finding time to regularly exercise, even if it means waiting for my child to go to sleep or of to school. Taking a break to read books even if the house is left in chaos with toys strewn everywhere.
I tried it.
And the small portions of peace, well-being, relaxation I earned made these adjustments feel totally worth it. Just when I was beginning to celebrate my new-found patience with Pari on my march to loving her unconditionally, a pang of guilt hit the pit of my stomach.
My conscience voiced the question, “Am I not being selfish taking slivers of time out of what I could be spending with my child to indulge in self-love?”
The answer to this wasn’t too far. I can happily give my child only what I have for myself. My newly earned sense of well-being was helping me in my march towards achieving unconditionality.
The only obstacle in my path of loving unconditionally is my fear that if I let my child have unconditional choices, the freedom to be who she wants to be, she’ll not listen to what I have to say. She will not obey what I ask her to do. What will happen to my desire to guide her to lead a disciplined life?
This is usually a trigger to a Pandora’s box of negative thoughts. No matter how hard I try to resist going down the spiral of possible negative things that could happen to my precious child, the minute these thoughts fill my mind, my resolve to love unconditionally flies out of the window. I am certain, these disciplinarian vibes reach my child because I’ve often seen fear writ large on her face when she has been up to some mischief.
This is when I had to decide what I wanted more.
To be a parent who her child thinks of rather cool. One who she’s sure to love come what may as against whom I successfully moulded into my perceived notion of being an obedient child, a puppet dancing to my tunes.
It might sound obvious in writing but in real life, it’s a tough call. Choices aren’t chalked out in such an obvious fashion.
It all boils down to the ultimate choice between allowing or resisting.
I am far from being sorted on this delicate balance.
To keep myself guided, which way I wish to be heading I see it as making a choice between gifting freedom to be what my child is born to be or becoming a parent I wouldn’t want to be a child to.
For now, I have decided to let my child be.
I have promised myself to hold back my hounding desire to control or to discipline at the cost of small joys. I am working at being able to let my child learn to fly, even if it means she’ll fail and fall a number of times.
I am at work, finding the key to happy parenting ~ Unconditional love.
Have you been able to love someone unconditionally or received it from someone?