These, I think have been possible by my being mindful and present to what was happening…
Ammu,when uncomfortable with what we are telling her or when she’s not in a state of listening to anyone, just changes the topic or asks us to stop. And, there are times when she just yells.. Sometimes I just let her be. At others, I yell back. Because that is the only way forward as I see it in that instance. Or it maybe due to my own lack of energy and patience at that moment.
Recently though, there were instances when she was shouting… almost hysterical. And during one such outburst, my heart went out to her. In that moment, I wished I could understand her totally. I wished I could take away the thing that was bothering her. I wished she wouldn’t be so harsh on herself.. coz in the end its she who will suffer as a result of that outburst. And in that one instant, I totally got what my granma, my dad, my sisters had been trying to tell me in all these years.
Yes! I used be hysterical.. 😳 it was during the darkest period in my life.. and still am sometimes.. very rarely though. It was granma’s face and words that first flashed through my mind in that moment. And I realized what pain she must have gone through to see me in so much pain. It was then that I realized, that me hurting them with my words or actions did not matter so much to them as me hurting myself!! I know I cannot undo any of that.. but I’m glad I’ve changed for the better and I feel blessed to have family that is so understanding and caring! And has helped me in becoming what I am today. Now.. the concern is to guide my darling onto the right path where she’ll learn to express herself in healthy ways.
I realize that the anger and frustration is just a facade that hides something else. Something that a child is unable to deal with at that moment. Maybe just the need to be not judged or maybe resentment for not being allowed to do what they want to at that moment! And its our love and reassurance that they need most at that time. Not a sermon on discipline or such stuff. It takes a lot of effort to give up my position and cool down enough to comfort her. But I have started doing that. And once she realizes that I am not going to be judgmental, she opens up.. even comes around to my view. It takes time.. but its happening!! That I was able to relate to her at that level, has helped me refine my ways of dealing with her when she’s in one of those moods.
While these are my experiences, Sangitha’s crisp post has pointers/guidelines for parents who are into the mindful or involved parenting route. And, for the others too, who care! As she puts it ‘A hug does the job where a string of words fails’ which is so apt in this context. It always works!!
One major factor here is also the management of my own temper. I have always felt that my temper patterns have had a great influence on her. And that is the reason that, mostly, anger is the way she expresses her unease. A couple of months back, I happened to meet a lady who is into child counseling and counseling in general. And I expressed my concern regarding Ammu’s temper. All she said was, ‘you manage your temper and she’ll be fine automatically’. It made me very hopeful.I was glad as I was already on that path and being mindful more than ever, has helped a great deal in the process. I can see some changes already!! And I hope Ammu will eventually learn how to articulate her feelings in a better way.. in a way that won’t hurt her.
One other thing about Ammu that has made me feel helpless and frustrated in the recent past is her refusal to study.. as in revise or practice. She just wont do it sometimes. And I end up feeling frustrated when I can’t convince her to do it. Or when I give up not wanting to push too much. One such instance was just before her Hindi test in Feb. And I ended up feeling overwhelmed that evening.. and it continued into the morning as well. I felt inadequate.. and all the associated feelings that go with it came to torment me 😐
Once again, it was Sangitha’s words that came to my rescue. Stage 5 : Acceptance…’My child is who he is. Now I need to figure out what he’s come to teach me’. It put things in perspective. And calmed me down. Acceptance is something I’ve been working on since quite some time now. But it has so many flavors to it. And it needs to be done again and again and again!! Was so glad to be reminded of that 🙂
So I sat down and asked myself what was making me feel overwhelmed and frustrated.What was I expecting and why.I reasoned that it was because I know that she is capable of doing so much better and that she’s not putting effort into reaching her potential. What a revelation that was!! About myself more so. Reminded me of all the times when dad said that we could do much better. And how we had always felt that why parents are never satisfied with what we have achieved so far!! Is it nothing at all? Its the same as I what I now felt about Ammu. The whole thing has come a full circle. Parents want us to reach for our potential!! Quite a revelation.. is it not! It might be the most obvious thing for many of you, but for me it was an AHA moment! And I feel so fortunate that I figured it for myself now!!
The next question that came up was ‘How much should I push? How much is fair enough?’ This is quite tricky! And I haven’t been able to figure out ‘how much’ would be right and fair as well. I’ve just decided to tackle it on a day to day basis. One day at a time.. depending on ‘how much’ she’s able to take on that particular day. Like, everyday is not the same for us, so it is for the kids and we need to factor in that, when we form our expectations.So, we go from here and see where it’ll lead us to. For now, I’m glad and satisfied that I’m doing the best I can in my circumstances. And I hope and pray that this will help her march forward in the right direction!!
Going ahead on this parenting journey. With hopes and aspirations. With apprehensions. And, most importantly, with faith, in the love and trust that binds us all 🙂