There are times when I wish that having a glass of wine at 8 am was considered normal. How about a shot of something smooth? Just a quick one to calm the nerves. As a mother of two boys - a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, I have come very close to talking myself into that one glass of wine in the morning before starting a day where I knew a difficult or emotionally challenging situation would arise. I am sure many of you moms are quietly admitting to yourselves that you have thought the same now and then.
Just another day in a mom's life:
Let me explain how and why this thought entered my head in the first place. My best friend and I were venting to each other a few days ago, about how emotionally draining it is to watch our kids scream and cry during their first days of school. My 3-year-old who has been going to school since he was 9 months, old thinks of school as his second home. Of course, there was the initial period when he started going alone where it took two teachers and akkas (helpers) to pick him up and take him inside. But then it got better and school became a part of him.
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The only thing he talked about when he came home from school without taking a breath, was school. As most schools do, it recently shut for a 2-week break before commencing Term 2. As the break came to end, I was excited for him to get back to routine. Little did I know what was in store. The “I don’t want to go to school” and crying began again and I realized the 2-week break with him being at home with me more than usual had set him back a step. His familiarity and love for the school did not seem to make a difference. However, once inside the classroom, the crying stopped and he was back to his usual self. Hearing this, I was relieved.
As a mother, my first instinct was to pacify him. Immediately, the “poor baby” and “I wonder what he must be feeling” emerged. I started to feel bad for him and tried thinking of all the reasons possible of why this could be happening. Maybe it wasn’t the 2 week break and it was something at school that was setting him off. But then I realized that he was fussing from Day 1 since school re-opened so it must be something else. If it was the separation anxiety kicking in again, how could I be so mean to send him off to school when he was crying to be with me? After a while of feeling this way and expressing my concerns to my mother, she was the one who finally put an end to the pity I was feeling for my son. She threw two simple words at me – “TOUGHEN UP!!!”
Why moms have to be emotionally strong:
What she said hit me and it hit me hard. I had always thought of myself as strong and tough and as someone who did not get affected by difficult situations very easily. However, it dawned on me that when it came to both my boys, I was faint-hearted.
I realized that if I wanted my elder one to toughen up and go to school without crying, then the toughening up needed to start with me first. I needed to throw him into the centre of the activity and walk away, no looking back.
It is also easier said than done. Whether it is a vaccination or the first day of school, we as mothers need to be emotionally strong. I remember refusing to stand and watch when my elder son was getting one of his first vaccinations after he was born. It occurred to me later, that the example I was setting for him was probably not a very good one, at the same time making me weaker as a mother.
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My friends and I keep joking about how a glass of wine before an emotionally draining situation would be a saving grace, making it easier for us mothers to cope with the situation. It would most definitely result in less thinking, more confidence and a tougher heart. I have lost count of the number of times I have come home and cried after witnessing my son being taken into school weeping. In retrospect, it didn’t seem like a situation that warranted blood tears but at that time I had been close to breaking. The one thing I can say for sure is that kids are not for the faint-hearted!
The need to go beyond the comfort zone:
Kids are more resilient than we think. We tend to forget that sometimes. The need for over-protecting arises more than we could have ever imagined but the key is to condition our minds to remember that pushing them in certain situations to go beyond their comfort zone is for the best. We need to judge depending on the circumstances if pushing them to do something they don’t want to do is the right thing or not. In the cases where it is the right thing, we as mothers need to put up a tough exterior, however hard it may be. Our minds and hearts will probably tell us two very different things.
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Today, I am a work in progress. The sight of my son crying when he doesn’t want to do something, does not make me go weak at the knees but instead empowers me to help him adapt and adjust to the situation. In a blog post I read recently on Babycenter, the author Stephanie Metz talks about how modern parents need to get real. She says and very rightly so that “the younger generations of today are being taught that they shouldn’t have to ever put up with anything that doesn’t make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.”
Something for all us moms to think about.