It didn’t hit me at all while I was in the hospital. There was me. There was the baby in her crib. And there were these zillion people – nurses, friends, aunts, uncles, strangers – walking in and out of the room. It all seemed surreal. If I was expected to feel a rush of emotions brought on by motherhood, well, I did not. I felt sort of removed from the experience. And all I wanted to do was sleep away my fatigue.
After 5 days in the hospital, we were asked to go home. So we bid goodbye to the horde of helpful nurses. My mother insisting on thanking them all personally while I waited with the baby in my arms and my husband looked just as lost as me. Then we marched out of this surreal world. After days of being stuck in a dark room, it was good to see sunlight. I looked down at the baby in my arms. I saw her crinkle her face as the powerful sunlight hit her. Instinctively I hugged the baby.
And it was at that moment that it hit me.
I was a MOTHER. This baby was now MY responsibility. I had to protect her. I had to teach her to decipher right from wrong. I had to bring her up as a morally and physically strong individual. It was a mind boggling thought. Suddenly I felt frail, incapable and so so so scared. I cried.
My alarmed mother and baffled husband had no clue as to why I was crying. I don’t think even I could articulate why.
I think I know now why it was so frightening. It’s because there really is no set formula for successful parenting. It’s not like you follow a time tested recipe and viola! – it comes out right. I’ve seen remarkably wonderful people go wrong with parenting. And I’ve seen the most disorganized people raise amazing children. So what works?
Also, what works for my child may not work for someone elses’. I know that stern voice and yelling at my daughter will fetch no results. It will only get her to be more stubborn. So I have to keep calm and explain things to her. Always explain, explain, explain. Pros and cons. We have managed to lay one clear ground rule – if there are things you don’t want other people to do to you (like messing your bed, or throwing your lovely ironed clothes on the floor, or teasing you, or laughing at you when you fall down…) then you cannot do the same to other people. This seems to work for us – by and large. But I know that some kids need discipline drilled into them. They will not listen until you scream at them. There really is no one-size-fits-all formula.
A friend of mine has twins. A girl and a boy. Sure enough they are poles apart by nature. The girl is calm and mature and needs to be handled differently. The boy is simply hyper all the time. So she has to talk sweetly to the girl and slap the boy when yelling does not work. She goes crazy trying to balance this yin and yang in her life. There are people who are quick to judge and scorn at her ways of raising children. She loves the girl more than the boy they say – because she is always yelling at the boy. But I know for a fact that she loves them both dearly and it’s just that they both need to be handled very differently.
If I’ve learnt anything at all after becoming a parent – it’s to not judge anyone’s parenting methods.
I know only one formula that works when it comes to raising children. It’s called instinct.
Instinct – is a mother’s magic wand.
Don’t let it get clouded by well-meaning advice that pours in, hearsay, parenting articles, real life incidents in other people’s homes and a zillion other frightening distractions. And you’ll do just fine.
When you are confused, wave that magic wand. Search within yourself. Your very own, unique, parenting formula will present itself to you.