It was a misty, dreary morning. There was something off about the day. The cook had called in sick at the last moment. I had an article submission deadline to meet. And then my periods arrived just in time, as if to fan the flames. As I tried to gather the scattered ‘me’, my few months short 5-year-old spilled a bottle of juice on the floor, inadvertently of course.
I wanted to scream my lungs out at that moment but I was so overwhelmed by the muddle that I just flopped on my bed and broke down. I was bawling like a child when my little one came up to me and embraced me. Her warm and tender touch was enough to get me to a composed state soon enough. She galloped towards the refrigerator and got me my favourite chocolate to cheer me up. I smiled as my heart melted faster than the piece of chocolate in my hand which we relished together. As if nature got its cue, the day started to appear brighter and cheery.
Later during the day, I was in deep thought. I have hardly ever tried to consciously hide my tears from my daughter. Was I right in doing that, I wondered? In all honesty, I think I am a mess as a parent. The only thing I know is that my daughter and I have truckloads of fun together. Other than that, I have no clue whether my parenting approach and ideology is right or not because I go with my intuitions. I am cognizant of the fact that many avoid crying in front of their kids as they genuinely believe it can affect them negatively. I have heard this from kith and kin, and have also read this on parenting support groups and forums. Of course, I do realize that it is imperative to provide kids with a happy and positive environment during the growing years. But I also feel that being my emotional self in front of my daughter is important for her to see the humane side of her mother. My daughter knows that I am NOT a superwoman and this actually helps me to be a better parent as it takes the pressure off reaching our self-created pedestals. She has seen me struggle to preserve my sanity at times and has witnessed my vulnerabilities like no one else has. I believe this has strengthened our bond and has laid the foundation for her to understand that bravery is not in “not crying”, but in facing, overcoming and moving on.
I recognize that there is a risk of children feeling burdened with the baggage of our own emotions. It could make them sad as well. But this is where we need to trust our instincts. Parenting has no rules which can be followed by all and sundry. If we are perceptive enough, we would be able to identify when and where we need to draw the line. To me, allowing her to look at my raw emotions is the best way to normalize them for her. She is learning that it’s OK to experience it all. Feeling like crying is OK. Feeling angry is OK. Feeling exasperated is OK. It is how we deal with it that matters. It is the coping up mechanism that we need to teach them. So, she watches me dancing it out when I am distressed. She finds it amusing when I count to ten to fizzle out my anger. I apologize to her and accept my folly when I blow it up, and on certain occasions, she has surprised me with her keen observations and learnings from her emotional education. She is still quite young, hence she will take time to assimilate and practice all this, but it’s opening up important conversations and hopefully setting the ball rolling towards raising an empathetic, self-aware and emotionally intelligent child.