I have written about my desire to let Pari be who she wants to be, at her own pace, at numerous places in this blog. Though lately, I have been struggling, rather battling with myself to let that happen. Failing many times. Ending up being frustrated. Feeling powerless, beaten and broken yet not clear about how to go about being a parent to a spirited kindergarten kid.
The beauty of my strife being it hasn’t changed its cause since Pari was born. I know, I am guilty of having labelled my child obstinate on more occasions than I can recollect. But, as the time is ticking past, I am beginning to feel that I can no longer hide behind that excuse every time I fail to make Pari do as I think she ought to do in any given situation.
I have had the draft of this post sitting in my mind for the longest time, but I have been pushing it behind the hundred others in hope that things will change over time. I will wake up wiser one fine morning or miraculously my child will bump into a milestone when she’ll see sense in what I’m trying to teach her and things will change for good.
Okay, I have to admit that, all those ideas of brushing the problems under the carpet sound just as ridiculous to me as they must have read out to you. So without beating the bush any further in this scorching heat let’s get straight to the point.
I am a borderline control freak. Yes, you read that right. But, I won’t end this confession without adding that I have been passed down this nothing-to-be-proud-of trait from my overprotective parents.
When I was a child, I was forever told what to do, how to do, when to do, why to do and I followed the instructions to the T. I seldom questioned back because I never got any answers other than what was already told. I was a submissive, obedient child who wasn’t allowed to hear her inner voice (though I realised this very late in life). Every time I tried to go by my gut feeling, I was chided, guided into acting the way my parents believed I should. When I failed to rise to the level to which the bar was set for me, my parents would do the tasks (including school-work) themselves to help me get desired (by them) results.
I cannot deny that my childhood sailed through effortlessly, in the protected environment where I was the ‘good’ girl, apple of every eye and who was nothing less than a star in every field. This glorious phase lasted till I stepped in my teens. The day I turned thirteen, suddenly my parents decided that I was grown up enough, trained well to lead the life onward on the well-rehearsed pattern.
But the reality was quite contrary. Stepping into the real world on my own, at that age felt similar to letting a child learn to swim on her own after years of splashing from the pool side. I stumbled, fell, choked, suffered, wished to go back to the protected environment but all seemed distant and alien.
The irony was, my inexperience at decision-making was ridiculed by my peers and my family alike. My failure to excel like always, was blamed on my teen hormones when the reality was I was crippled by never being allowed to make mistakes. I had never known how being in the wrong ever felt and how to make amends if I failed. Making me turn into a forever sulking, depressed, confused teen who hoped and prayed to be told what to do next to feel less miserable. Needless to say the years that followed were painful in every which way.
Today, when I am a parent myself, I know exactly what I don’t want to do for my child. But, the lessons of ‘what all a parent ought to do for a child and how’ that I learnt from my own parents come to haunt my decision making more often than I’d like. These daunting lessons trouble me also because I live with my parents who still harbour the same beliefs as they did while raising me. This is where the roots of my constant struggle lie.
Guided by my own experiences when I let my child fly free, fall, hurt herself, in my heart I know I am preparing her for the hardships of life. But, my parents never fail to hint how miserable a parent I am to let my child hurt herself at this tender age. Be it the nutrition woes or the homework struggle, the struggle is constant.
In writing, being able to see sense in my approach is rather easy, but in my heart, I’m a complete mess. The tempest of thoughts that I am not doing enough, my inadequacies, the constant reminder of how I am not being the parent I could be because my child isn’t the top grosser in every field has started beating my sanity up.
As a child, my life revolved around my performance in the school report card. That was what my parents cared for. But I am different. Undoubtedly, I want Pari to do well in life and I am prepared to help her achieve the ultimate in a field of her choice, but the idea of beating her up to study, cram, write and perform to ace the race is not doing well to my peace of mind.
Letting my child be, is very tough with the controlling tendencies I possess. I feel restless, incapacitated, inadequate and tensed. The pressure being pumped by the constant nagging of my parents on how I should have inspired my child to be obedient given that I am around her all the time. I know the answer lies in my growing a thick skin, turning a deaf ear to the nagging, but somehow I haven’t succeeded in doing that till date.
I know, you’re wondering that if I know all the answers to my problem then why the rant? I have written it all in an attempt to qualm the storm of self-doubt that rises every now and then. I am trying to find respite in words from the fear that my idea of letting my child be would be worth the effort in her favour in the long run.
“I had some ambition. I meant everything to be different with me. I thought I had more strength and mastery. But the most terrible obstacles are such as nobody can see except oneself.” ― George Eliot
Like any other parent, I too can’t predict the success or failure of my strategies of parenting but being a single parent I am so often caught up in self-doubt that writing it all down is often the last straw of seeing sense through my thoughts.
The song on my mind: Abhi mujh mein kahin ~ Agneepath