All the weddings or gatherings or Sunday brunch dates with besties that I go for, one question is always asked. Without fail!
“How is your daughter so hands free? How come I don’t see the “hassled” mom streak in you?”
I think my daughter and I are both to be credited for the “keep calm” atmosphere around us. She is a calm individual, no doubt. I also have controlled a lot of “me” and trained myself to be as “non-reactive” as possible. In fact I have become so controlled in my reaction that the other day I saw my best friends child topple head down from a high chair and hit his head on the floor. And all I did was wait! I dint react and waited for the baby to react (to the dismay and disbelief of my horror struck friend! Thankfully the baby was fine and had the same look I have after finishing my favourite rollercoaster ride!). Point being- It is very difficult to get a reaction on my face now- not even an eyebrow raise!
So, yes both my daughter and I are to be applauded for the state of calm.
Yet, when I tried to break it down in my head I had a common underlying factor that has eased my journey as a mother exponentially.
I trust my baby.
We all do trust our kids. I am sure. However, I feel that we start this trust process very late.
I trusted my toddler since she started learning life skills. When she walked, I trusted that she would get herself up from every fall and try again. When she grabbed her spoon, I trusted that she would coordinate her movements and get atleast 50% of the food in her mouth. When she asked for wearing her clothes on her own I trusted that she would not give up unless she got into her high neck polo tshirts- no matter how many tries it took her and even if she wore it inside out in the end.
I have been an observer rather than a helper since my daughter turned 2. I have let her struggle, I have let her take her time, I have let her do things wrong. But I have never intervened. I have let her carry glass utensils, climb on high stools, fiddle with a high tech gadget. I have just stood back and kept an eye for her safety. I have never even let her know that she might break something or fail at anything.
And my daughter has amazed me each time. When I thought that she was too young to wear her own clothes, she went ahead and did it. When I thought she was too young to eat on her own, she did that too. When I thought she is too young to play football, she made friends with children twice her age and height and played football too.
It has made her independent, undeterred and confident.
What that spells out for me is that I have less on my hands. I can just hand over her clothes and creams to get ready for school while I do my yoga. And I know she will know what to wear and how to wear it. Which cream and where to apply it.
When we go for a party, I can trust her to pick up a plate (even if its ceramic) and ask the hostess to put her favourites in her plate. Then go and sit and eat on her own.
Agreed if I intervene, I will have her in spic and span condition all the time. Dressed much more impeccably than she usually does. I will have more food down her throat if I intervene and feed her on my own. I will have lesser falls and bruises and cuts if I always hold her hand.
But I will not be doing her a favor.
I am her mother.
I am clear about the belief that parenting is about imparting skills to the offspring- emotional, mental and physical skills- that make her ready and independent to face life. It’s not about telling them what they cannot do. Its about letting them try and fail. And pick themselves up to try again.
So if you want to be a peaceful mother whose kid is confident and independent- learn to trust your baby. It takes a lot of valor to let your little one do “big girls” tasks. It is so tempting to help your baby whose head is stuck in the sleeves of her tshirt. But instead, just trust your baby and sit back. She will come out a winner sooner than you expect.
Yes, it does mean sometimes walking through the whole mall with a baby who is wearing absolutely uncoordinated clothes, or a tshirt that is inside out or her night PJs at a wedding. It will also include rare episodes of broken kitchenware or a horrible spill at your friend’s dinner party.
But in the long run (and believe me not that long a run too), you will see a happier, calmer, confident and more independent child who is ready to face everyday with guts and fervor.
And then you will know what the feeling of being a Nirvanama really is!