Sunday, April 27, 2014

Discipline

Due to a  perk of SAHMhood, I have began watching a Pakistani talk show, which on a particular day had a well-known guest, Ali Azmat from the band Junoon. I've grown up listening to his music, but honestly I was never a fan because I always found him to be too much of a "typical rockstar"; rebellious and nonconformist. But his interview that day was interesting to me and it stood out, because he began talking about parenthood.

He spoke on how becoming a father has really influenced and changed him. He has had this image for years of being the tough guy affected by his fame and fortune, but here he was talking enthusiastically about making ponytails in his daughter's hair and spending the day with his little angel. He wants to spoil her, but simultaneously also teach her the value of things, making her a consciously aware citizen of the world. This isn't something very new, I think we have all seen how having kids can transform people. Or maybe it's just something that comes with age and maturity; a sense of awareness and appreciation. He went on to talk about his own parents and how as a typical guy, especially a Pakistani one, growing up his mom was always smothering him with love and food, which he never appreciated it until he went abroad to live on his own. As he grew up, he gained tons of fame and fortune but came back home to them and took care of his parents until they passed away. I know it's another cliché example, but clichés always hold some truth to them. It was nice to see this side of him.

All the while I couldn't help but think about my own son. Right now he's three and he doesn't really appreciate much of anything I do. In fact, every moment of our day together makes me fully aware that I'm dealing with an egocentric stage of childhood. But watching this interview made me reflect for a minute, maybe one day he will?

Because we spend so much time together, literally all day everyday from 8 am  till bedtime at 9 pm, I feel as if he takes me for granted, I think this happens to a lot of mothers. Our kids never get a chance to miss us since they're always with us! Especially now in this new stage of child rearing,  for parents its where we struggle to find the balance between love and disciple. I find this stage to be pure exhaustion. So much energy, an ever growing vocabulary that never seems to take a pause, armed with constant 'I want'.

Many days end with me wondering if I'm indulging him too much by planning activities like story time at Barnes and Noble or play dates. Often times we walk out of an hour or more of playing with him kicking/screaming for more and I'm the mean mom who ruins all the fun. And when I'm not worrying about spoiling him I worry that I'm disciplining too hard, which concerns me will encourage more rebellion. But I can't help be that mom:

-who won't buy every toy/candy he lays his hand on just to stop the nagging (oh how tempting it is to stop the nagging!!!).
- who won't let him watch 17 straight hours of YouTube toy review videos and forces playing with puzzles or letter tracing which he is too impatient to sit still for.
-who won't allow him to say bad words such as his current obsession 'S-T-U-P-I-D'.
- who insists we have to stop for a pee break and then we must wash hands afterwards. (yes diapers are a million times easier than potty training and I've even had moments where I wondered why underwear is useful at all.)
-who scolds him for saying 'I want' and demands instead to hear 'can I please..?'
-who says and follows through with the threat that  'we will leave here immediately if you don't stop crying/whining/running/shouting loudly'

So much for asking to be appreciated, I'm too busy being overwhelmed with how to just deal with him and his demands while leaving minimal damage on his adult personality. I know, I know 'he's just a kid and all kids do this'. My husband's comforting words of 'it's a phase, we all went through it he will be fine.' does reassure this worrier momma a bit. But the scary part comes when I see the reality of some people who don't grow out of it. And usually it always goes back to their childhood, well meaning mothers who gave into their demands creating manipulative selfish monsters. "It's always the mother's fault."

Truthfully no mother performs the acts that they do for the sake of appreciation. We would (and usually DO) still do them even if you children never said a single thank you. Making your favorite meals, searching for the beloved Lightning McQueen car under the sofa, bending/kneeling at 6 months pregnant to scrub the tub after bath time finger-painting, we do them because that is simply a part of being a mother. Because our own happiness truly becomes so intertwined with that of our child's that it becomes hard to discern the difference. But lately, with my extreme concern about discipline I've been laying down rules hard on Ali and sometimes I feel guilty that he may end up hating me and all the constant rule enforcing.

Despite all my strict mom behavior, something pretty amazing happened the other day. We were at the park like always, and another little girl began playing with him. They did their introductions and then he ran over to me, "This is my mom. She's my best friend!"  he beamed.

I don't think he really knows the meaning of that word yet, and he definitely doesn't know what  it meant to me. The little girl's mother and I both had a serious 'Aww' moment. It made all the tough days worth it. Today he doesn't know what it means, but one day he will. Here's to hoping my free spirited child still introduces me the same way when he does! 
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