I never believed in the statement, spare the rod and spoil the child. Whenever I saw parents hitting their kids, I would silently cringe and pity the poor, bawling little ones, withholding the urge to advise the red-faced parents. Being a true-blue Libran, violence of any kind disturbs me. That doesn’t mean I give in, I’ve just always felt there were better ways to deal with anger especially towards children.
So when I became a mother, I promised my little one that I’ll never ever raise my hand on him and that I’ll be a mild parent, I’ll hear him out, count till 10 before reacting and blah blah. It all sounds so good in theory, till the realities of parenting punch us hard in the face. Then we lose control, forget all those promises and act exactly the way we don’t want to, right?
It happened just a few days ago. We were getting ready for bedtime. My sons, K and N, were in their pajamas, jumping like little monkeys on the bed with open water bottles in their hands. I had a headache and a cold; the kitchen was yet to be cleared up for the day and it was already 10:30 pm. I worried that my elder son wouldn’t get up in time for school tomorrow. I kept yelling, “time to sleep! No bottles on the bed” But you know, no one listens when mom speaks.
In that frenzied monkey play, my elder son K held his little brother’s shoulders and with an excited yell, flung him over the bed to the floor. N landed on his knees, his jaw missing the ground by a few inches. He began to cry bitterly, water from the bottles had spilt everywhere.
Like lightning, something snapped inside me. I grabbed K by the shoulders, shook him vigorously and raised my hand to plant a hard smack on his cheek. Then, I stopped. In my anger I had totally forgotten to even check on my boy who’d fallen.
I let go of K picked up my toddler. He didn’t look badly hurt. But my elder son who didn’t expect such a strong reaction from me shrank onto the bed and bawled like a baby. I felt like a monster. Now I had two crying kids. Holding both of them close, I tried to pacify them while reeling with guilt myself. A few funny faces and nursery rhymes later, they fell asleep. But I felt small.
Did I scare his tender brain for life? What if next time I actually hit him? Was I bad mom? Questions plagued me well past midnight. But then, I was just human, a human who wore her heart on the sleeve when it came to her children. So I woke up and scribbled few words on my notepad and played Devil’s advocate myself, something I do when I’m feeling down the dumps. I’m pretty sure you’d relate to these.
1) Why did I react the way I did?
- You were overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s ok to be so.
2) Could I have handled the situation better?
- Maybe. But you could’ve acted worse. Next time, the key is to be aware.
3) What if my child is deeply hurt?
- Children adapt. They’re intelligent. He knows he upset you, so he might not do it again
4) Am I a bad mom?
- You will ask this question each time you behave out of the norm. Bad is a relative term. Parenting is not always roses and angels.
I felt better. Sometimes, we mums are too hard on ourselves. I don’t mean every negative action of ours should be justified as after all, children are not little forever and they deserve to see the best of us. But hey, we’re learning each day so all we can do is be aware of our feelings, and consciously behave the way we deem ideal the next time a parenting tornado stares at us. At the end I’ve learnt to always sign off with a quote, “I am not a bad mom. I’m a good mom having a bad day.”
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