Motherhood comes in seasons and I am in that season of motherhood where the heat of the season is getting to my head. I am exhausted and ragged to the bone most of the time, burdened with responsibilities which keep on mounting and doesn’t seem to end. Yes, I have been that Mom.
There are moments of spectacular delight like yesterday when my little munchkin Shaarav came up to me unannounced and started saying, “Mummy-stan up (stand up)-dance, mummy-stan up-dance” on repeat mode. It’s a delight because 1) he’s just 18 months old and learning to talk with his two-to-three-word sentences 2) I’m hearing him speak this for the first time and 3) I am surprised how he learned to say this because, apparently, I don’t remember teaching him. He brings me sheer delight in moments when asked to say sorry, he holds my ears instead of his and says, “Sooweeeee.” And suddenly in the middle of his play, when he comes and sits beside me and says, pinching my cheeks, “Cheek, Cheek, Cheek” (because he learned to tell cheek and chin last week) or when after waking up in the morning, the first thing he does is come to find me in the kitchen and greet me with his brightest smile, or those times when I find him trying to repeat my ‘go to’ words in his baby voice and looking at me for approval. How I wish I get to soak in moments only like these!
But then, motherhood is also made up of moments when I find myself struggling to make through the day, feeling heavy and tired from lack of sleep, round-the-clock demands of an active toddler and heaping undone chores. Moments like these, give me nightmares when he pulls my hair, bites me at whatever place he can find, playfully hits me (though it still hurts) with whatever he gets his hands at, never lets me nap if he’s awake, sits on me, jumps on me, stands on me, scrambles my kitchen or strews his toys all over the house.
Shaarav tests my patience in a way no one else can. He will repeatedly do things he’s not asked to, driving me crazy and making me lose my temper. I think he purposely picks the dustbin and litters around, scatters my kitchen again the fifth time I arranged it in the day, climbs the dining table and occasionally fusses about food only to annoy me. Because he is exactly the opposite when he’s with his father. He is so well-behaved around him. That is the case with stay-at-home-moms, at the end of the day, we both want to break free from each other’s company and let out cries of joy the instant we hear the doorbell ring. We both jump to open the door to Mr. Husband and find relief from each other. It hurts and feels guilty, sometimes, for being happy to be away from him. And I feel that I completely fail as a mother not just in doing my mommy duties properly, but also for not being able to instil good manners in him. I feel like a bad mother, guilty for not being a good mom and that his behaviour towards me is a result of my actions towards him.
Patience has never been my greatest virtue. And because of my toddler throwing tantrums, I often find myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And as a result, very often I lose my temper, but how I wish to be like those moms who follow gentle parenting. Some days go by so smooth that I need to pinch myself if I am dreaming. But some days nothing seems to work at all – positive parenting, negative parenting, TV, chips, chocolates (anything and everything for that last strand of sanity). But nothing works. Nothing at all. And the patience of an already patience-deprived mom gets all thinner and thinner. And several times throughout the day I feel like I am failing him as a mother.
Often I have this strikingly contrasting feelings of deep motherly love interspersed with feelings of deep mommy guilt. I am angry and frustrated for struggling to hold it together. Part of my anger I get as heredity from my father, part of it stems from utter exhaustion, part from my toddler’s erratic behaviour and him wreaking havoc in the entire house, but mostly just because of me. But then, I constantly feel guilty when I lose my patience and deal with the situation outside of what I believe to be ideal. I often feel like I am falling into an abscess of insanity and I feel like all I have been doing is yelling and screaming at him when all I want is to be a patient mother, be present for him and having fun together.
I have watched my sanity and patience run out on several occasions earlier, but the other day I completely lost it and spanked my son. Yes, that’s a starkly naked truth and you can judge me all you want. Yes, I have been that mom. Yes, I spanked him in the spur of the moment as I ran out of my patience. I can’t remember what it was for but I was completely aghast and scared out of my wits about how my temper had unleashed on my small kid. And, immediately after, I felt immensely terrible and even before ‘he’ could begin crying I had already started to cry. I have been in tears before for yelling at him, but this was like no other and entirely different altogether.
I cannot begin to (but still dare to) describe how ashamed and embarrassed I am about it. This was one of those times when my lack of patience and sanity gave way to this tremendous meltdown I feel so awful about. We both sat there crying together – he because of physical pain, but mine was more of an emotional one. I cried my eyes out feeling mortified as an upsurge of guilt engulfed me. It was when the crying turned to sobs that suddenly I felt two little hands cup my cheeks. Shaarav stood up abruptly to wipe my tears and with his arms wide open he started saying, “Mummy, hug, Mummy, hug, Mummy hug.” And all I could do was bring him closer to me, hug him tight and shower him with kisses all over his beautiful little face. He was all confused but still managed to let out a sweet smile making me smile back too. Yes, I have been that mom, too.
It’s astounding how children can be exceedingly forgiving without hesitations and reservations. And in that moment, looking into those little tear-ridden eyes but a still cute smiling face, I had the greatest realization of my life. I could see in those little eyes the pain and the love he felt for me – unconditional, selfless love. It made me realize that if my son could love me so much I could never be a bad mother. And, when I would have rather chosen to cringe and feel remorse for my own regretful action, that small gesture of innocent kindness from my little human motivated me to rise to occasions like these. And it dawned on me, it has never been a battle against me and my baby, but it is a war against me and my temper which I need to win and emerge victorious to proclaim the true spirit of motherhood back.
Such is the ebb and flow of motherhood. We are humans after all, and though we like to call ourselves supermoms, we don armours with little cracks shining it through countless battles of courage and valour like these. And I guess it’s allowed. And when my child can forgive me, it’s time I should forgive myself too. So, from now on I dare to break free and take equal pride in accomplishing the hardest job in the whole world of being a mother, and at the same time crushing it no lesser. Because just as my kid needs love, forgiveness, and acceptance I need them too. It’s time I should throw the shame out of my guilt and dare to own the compassion and courage it takes to stand tall for being realistic, honest and vulnerable at the same time.
So here I am, daring to break free of my own limitations and fringes to tame my temper. This fight is worth winning for my tiny human, who believes in me and loves me with all his little heart. Because though I’ve been that mom whose life is filled with plenty of moments that don’t make for pretty pictures, I want my son to have memories of me and our relationship which he can cherish later. So, rather getting drowned in the guilt-tide and dwell on the thing of the past, and instead of feeling sorry and get stuck, I choose to learn and redeem myself and let it go for once and for all. I refuse to get ruled by my temper from now on. I refuse to let go of my quiet amidst the chaos. I promise to practice grace to my little guy and myself. I dare to break free of my guilt, forgive myself and start afresh on my journey for my biggest victory – a gracefully realistic and a vulnerably honest motherhood, in its truest spirits.
And, as I sit to write this piece, I can see my mess-monster from the corner of my eye sending his Lego pieces go flying in the air, here and there (some even managed to hit me), and now they are strewn all over the place (even after being asked not to the 20th time). But I am sitting here keeping my calm and being chill about it though when I am finished, I will have to clean up the room after him. I am trying to be that mom who is good for both of us. The journey has begun!
This blog post is a part of the Dare-a-thon blog train organized by ‘The Momsteins’. Dare-a-thon features a one-day blog train with 29 daring moms onboard who share their posts on a Dare theme on the event of World Dare Day. This is my first ever participation in a blog train and it was really fun, exciting and a privilege to be a part of. In the same context, I would like to thank “the Momsteins” for letting me join for the fun. I would like to thank Sonia Chaudhary of Maxmumsonia for introducing me. Sonia is a fellow mom who shares the varied emotions of her motherhood journey of raising a lovely daughter. And in turn, I would like to introduce Akanksha of Mummatolilmissy to carry forward the train. Join her as she begins her blogging journey with this blog train. Please check out their posts on daring stories shared by them as well as other wonderful posts on the theme by other boarders as well. Here comes the train! Choo Choo!