Pretentious Parenting

When I realised that Kiara, my almost five-year old daughter did not care about reading or writing, I immediately bought a parenting book that promised to reveal secrets on raising geniuses. Alternatively, I could have taught her the alphabets but who cares about that. I felt smug being seen with that book. In the first and all of the ten pages I managed to read, it talks about pretend play and its importance in the development of young minds. Unfortunately, I think it is a significant part of adult life too, especially parenting.

The moral high ground

According to Kiara, being an almost five-year old and being in the ‘Dancing Dolphins’ class translates to her knowing everything. She really means everything. From deciding what I should wear to when her little brother should drink milk, she has an opinion on everything. Since I obviously do not want to wear my polka dot pajamas to church, I am very often at loggerheads with this tiny human being.

One of our frequent arguments have to do with cleaning up. I would ask politely, she would refuse, we go back and forth and then I would say ‘Your grandma never had to tell me to clean up my toys’. After regarding my face for thirty seconds she will quietly pipe ‘really mama?’. In actual fact, my mother had to come screaming and charging at me, bellowing threats along the lines of throwing my toys away, putting me up for adoption (you get the idea) before I would budge. However, I thought that pretending to be someone I was not was a crucial part of me being a good parent. The result of this conversation ended in one of the following,

  1. Kiara yelling ‘not fair’ or something else and storming off
  2. Me yelling about her being ungrateful for her toys or something
  3. Kiara sulking and cleaning up

Whether or not she cleaned up, I never felt good about these three outcomes. I wanted her to take pride in her chores and yet I was clueless on how to motivate her. Then the answer came to me, why couldn’t I simply be truthful?

So, the next time we had the same argument, instead of taking a moral high ground with her, I let her in on how my mother used to be annoyed with my toys being everywhere. Once the initial shock of her supposedly perfect mother doing something wrong wore off, she not only listened intently about how I used to get scolded but was also keen on knowing how I cleaned up. I used the opportunity to talk to her about overwhelming situations and how breaking up challenges into smaller steps help. She was receptive to my suggestions and then proceeded to clean up with me with a smile on her face. At that moment, I felt like I won a gold medal in parenting.

It is commendable that we try to be the best version of ourselves for our children. However, does it really help them when we paint a perfect picture of ourselves? Instead if we let them see us in all our imperfections, let them in on how we deal with challenges, allow them to see us fail and try again, we will be allowing them to gain invaluable perspective.

Fear of being judged

I will not speak for everyone but when I am in view of others, I try to say or do things that I assume to be the most socially accepted. For example, I usually allow Kiara to take off her shoes while playing in the playground. I find that without her sandals, she has a better grip, therefore she is safer and has a fun time. However, if there is another mother there and especially if she is armed with wet tissues and a hand sanitiser, I would say ‘Kiara please don’t take off your shoes, the playground is dirty’. My fear of being judged as a bad mother who is not prioritising personal hygiene takes over all my brain function. This again results in conflicts with Kiara and ends with the both of us feeling frustrated. In hindsight, it is a completely unnecessary situation. I know what is best for my child and I have allowed her to do certain things. It is my parenting style. Why do I then change it for fear of how a stranger may or may not feel about me?

Essentially, I am demonstrating to my child that it does not matter what she believes in because she needs to change her practices to suit another person’s opinion of her. Is this the sort of mentality I want to instill in my little girl? I don’t think so. If I want her to grow up to be a strong woman who stands by her principles and values in life, I should then be able to stand my ground about taking shoes off at the very least!

Saying sorry

 Kiara takes the school van every morning. Given that I only wake her 45 minutes before her van arrives, mornings are rather busy for us. I hate to be late and therefore will keep trying to listen for the sound of the van engine. As far as I knew, you could not see the van from our home. One such day as I was rushing her, my patience running thin, instead of wearing her shoes Kiara ran into one of our bedrooms. I stormed into the room, ready to give her an earful for not wearing her shoes. She moved the curtains aside and said with a bright smile ‘See mama, the van isn’t here yet. You don’t have to rush, we have time to carry Aarav along.’

If one stood at a particular angle, you got an unblocked view of the pick-up point. I never knew! At that moment, I felt so little. I not only misunderstood her actions but I was ready to punish her for being resourceful and considerate. This time I managed to stop myself in time. However, there have been other instances where I have not been that fortunate. To make matters worse, despite the realisation of having made a mistake, I would pretend it was not a big deal and brush it off. Not because of any particular reason but more because I did not think it was important. That begs the question, how then can I expect my child to own up to her mistakes and make rectifications?

Saying sorry to our children does not make us terrible parents, neither does it diminish our value in our children’s eyes. All it does is to show them that everyone makes mistakes and that it is possible to make amends.

I am not a terrible parent and neither are you. We have embarked on this journey with our little ones and in our efforts to be the perfect parent, we set unattainable standards, we neglect feelings, we lose teachable moments, we pretend. Let’s drop the pretences and instead embrace our children and ourselves for who we are. Imperfections are beautiful.

Advertisements

Best sleeping options for your newborn

You are in your last trimester, it is time to set up your nursery and like every well-meaning parent you decide to turn to expert advice on how all this should be done: Google. Ever reliable Google then decides to churn out a zillion forums, parenting websites, blogs (including mine) at you. After ploughing through numerous articles, those of us who have decided not to kill ourselves yet, then proceed to ponder at 4am about where our newborn should sleep. I mean, it is a tiny human weighing about 3 kg and measuring about 50cm. The baby could sleep anywhere! Aha! That’s where you newbies stumble. Fret not, you are about to receive life changing newborn sleeping arrangement advice from an experienced mother – me.

Option 1: Baby sleeps in an out-of-a-magazine looking nursery with a 3000 dollar cot with a baby monitor.

You have meticulously planned every detail of this pregnancy. You are financially well-settled, you have decided to spend every ounce of energy and every dollar on your precious little baby. Great. So you head out there and get the latest ergonomically structured, anti-dust mite, anti-spider, anti-cockroach, memory foam, light rocking motion inducing, white noise spouting and with whatever other function baby cot out there. Given that you are also an extremely cautious parent you buy a motion sensing, oxygen-level calibrating, diaper weight weighing baby monitor to go with it. There could be nothing safer than this arrangement, could there? Wait. What if that 500 dollar Scandinavian cot mobile drops on your baby’s head? What if your baby is traumatised by the particular white noise that your cot is playing now while you are sound asleep? Will that make him throw tantrums at 5? or murder people at 15? What if your baby monitor fails? Remember that family you read about in the papers? Thermostat was faulty and the baby got fried because they forgot to charge the batteries for the baby monitor. Now, that fancy cot in the nursery does not seem like a fantastic idea does it?

Not to worry, there is always option 2

Option 2: Co-sleeping with the baby on the bed right next to you and your partner

Now picture that perfect image of a gorgeous baby sleeping in between the both of you. Both of your masterpiece-perfection. Awww. Perhaps she will hold your finger as she sleeps peacefully. Your hair will cascade onto the bamboo cotton pillow. What? did you say pillow? What if you kick that pillow onto your newborn’s face in the middle of the night? SIDS! What if your partner rolls over your baby? SIDS! What if a gust of wind blows the duvet on to your infant’s face? SIDS! Do not worry, there are wonderful products in the market that slightly elevate the infant, so that she can sleep safely and yet be close to you. Except, that elevated structure might collapse or topple, trapping her in between. SIDS! Assuming you survive this minefield of co-sleeping on the same bed, there is always a possibility that she will not go to college or move out despite being 35 because of unnatural parental attachment.

Don’t lose hope, let’s move on to option 3

Option 3: Co-sleeping in the same room with baby in a separate cot

Life is all about finding that perfect balance. You can’t have the baby in another room neither can you have them right beside you, so why not have them in the same room sleeping in a cot or crib right next to you? No temperature and baby monitor issues. No chances of you rolling and squashing your child. They will be independent, yet you are within arm’s reach to provide comfort. This is all true, provided that the mattress fits exactly such that your baby’s head does not get stuck  between the cot and mattress. Also, did you check whether the cot slats are less than 6cm apart? You did not?! What do you mean? Do you want your baby to slip through in the middle of the night? While you are checking the slat gaps, did you also check whether the removable side of the cot is well-secured? Who cares if you just bought it, bring out the screwdriver and secure it. Did you swaddle your baby so that he is comfortable? No way! His comfort is not the priority here. He will kick off the blanket and it is going to land on his face.

Take a deep breath now, there is an option 4

Option 4: Watch your baby sleep

Having a baby is a life-changing, character building, relationship strengthening process. As a part of this nurturing process, you can choose to put your baby on the floor with no loose cloth or fittings within a radius of 100m and then watch her as she sleeps. Of course take turns with your partner. It is part of the relationship strengthening process. While you watch her, please make sure not to put your face too close because you might doze off and kill her with your head. It would also be irresponsible of you to take a quick nap on the couch nearby because if the fire alarm goes off at that precise moment, you might be disoriented and end up trampling on your sleeping baby. Of course, do not forget the risk of collapsing ceilings.

Don’t cry,  there is an option 5

Option 5: Safest and recommended by every paediatric association

DO NOT HAVE A BABY.

On a side note, my mother still has no clue what SIDS is. I am 30, my sister is 23 and both of us are very much alive.

 

 

 

Hospitalisation is the new staycation

The month of July has been rather exciting for me with two hospital stints; one in Perth and one in Singapore. I could carry on writing a tragic but inspiring tale of a young mother in hospital, clinging on to life and sharing the enlightenment and revelations being sick brought her. Unfortunately, despite my prolonged staring at the ceiling and the sickening peach walls, the only discovery I made was that if you stared at an empty wall for long enough, you became cross-eyed.

Continue reading

Toddlers guide for the holiday season

Happy New Year! 2015 is going to be a fantastic year for all of us. Your toddler is going to sleep through the night, finish meals and will not throw tantrums. Everything is going to be perfect. While we mothers enjoy ourselves, it is only fair that toddlers get their fair share of fun too. Given that Kiara had a ball this Christmas holidays, she has very kindly agreed to share her tips for making the most out of the holiday season.

Continue reading

I’ll ride with you

Acts of terror very often dominate the news these days and to be honest I’ve never really been one of those people who gave it much thought. Yes, I would feel sad but I would move on. Not this time. Is it because of what happened in Sydney was too close to home? Is it because a mother of three was one of the victims? Is it because I can finally feel the pain of the parents grieving their innocent children’s death in Peshawar? I don’t know. What I also have very minimal knowledge about is the history of the rise of all these issues. Islamic fundamentalism or whatever. In fact, I don’t care much for it. I’ll tell you why.

Continue reading

I’ve turned ONE!

I used to live in this imaginary world, where I, a very well dressed and slim mother held a little girl in my arms and walked through a park teaching her the ways of the world. In reality, about a year back, a little human weighing 2.5 kilos came into my life and shared her wisdom with me. Yes! I’ve reached my milestone. I am ONE. One year of successful (sort of) parenting.

I shall not waste time. Here are the mysteries of the diaper world unravelled.

Continue reading