Let go of the inner control freak

Let go of the inner control freak

It’s tempting. 

When we see our kids fall, we rush to soothe them. A bruised knee warrants tender care and comforting. An altercation on the playground brings out the mama bear in us and we swing into action to set things right. A task done contrary to our expectations gnaws at that perfectionist within  and at some point we realise that it’s time to let go of the inner control freak.



Gy has always been a dreamer  of sorts. She is the kind who will stop and stare at an ant because it looks tired. Her footsteps will slow down to delightedly watch a kitten chase an imaginary string or gently lift a flower that has fallen off the plant but is still fresh enough to last another day in a vase at home.

Contrast this with me, who’s always been a bit of a stickler for duties and tasks. I can enjoy the sunset, gaze at a flower, relish the stillness all around, but only when I am done with my tasks for the day. It’s not the ideal way to live, I know, and there are moments when I chuck everything into the air, forget my chores and just spend my evenings doing nothing at all, savouring it with every breath of my being.

So, it’s natural to understand why Gy and I would be at loggerheads when it comes to things to do around the house. It’s a constant battle of wills where I want the task done ‘right now’ versus her promise to do it ‘in five minutes’. It’s a different matter that her definition of five minutes is vastly different from mine. 

After a long time of snapping at her for not doing things the way I wanted, it was time for me to exercise the simple power of one word. It was ‘Yes’. It took effort and I tried not to limit her by constantly saying ‘No’. For a long time, that worked. But, if parenting has taught me anything, it is that nothing is constant. Our children change, ever so slowly and perceptibly. What worked for me a year ago won’t work anymore.

Today, I cannot expect that even one day will the be the same as the next. As she inches closer to nine years of age, I realise that a young woman is growing right under my nose, one with feelings, decision-making power, partial control of her emotions and the ability to discern good from bad. She chooses to do what she can, when she can.

This last weekend was busy with so many tasks. In the midst of it all, I’d meant to clean her room, since repeated instructions to her seemed to be falling on deaf ears. Before I could get around to it, she came to me yesterday, sat by my side and said, ‘You know, I think I need to do something every week. It’s time I started cleaning my books, toys and clothes which are all over my room. I don’t get time during the week, but if I make some time on Sunday morning, I’m sure I can finish it in half an hour. What do you think?’

What did I think? My heart was doing the back flip in a complicated acrobatic sequence! Instead, I smiled and agreed. In fact, I offered to help her, but she brushed it aside, saying, ‘You have enough work as it is.’ And that was that. No instructions. No threats. No deadlines. 

Doing something because your inner voice tells you it is time, is infinitely preferable to anything else.

 After a rather tiring afternoon, as I headed out to the supermarket, she accompanied me saying, ‘I need to do something.’ As we walked  to the store, she found a secluded park bench, perched herself on it cross-legged and said, ‘I am going to sit here and meditate in the midst of Nature. Can you pick me up on the way back?’

It was at once beautiful and inspiring to see a child take charge of herself and nudge me towards my own inner peace. Tomorrow, I’ll probably lapse into that control freak of a mom who wants that plate cleared away in the next three minutes, but for today, let me remember this lesson from a person who is younger than me in age and infinitely older than me in wisdom, maturity and self- acceptance. 

May that always be the case.

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0 thoughts on “Let go of the inner control freak

  1. May I just say I had “book book book” running in the back of my mind as I read this? Maybe a parenting one is meant to be first, I feel like just a collection of your blog posts would do :).

  2. Gosh, don't remind me. Or rather, remind me everyday! I need a kick in the pants and I am seriously wondering if I should make an e-book of my parenting posts, probably as a gift to Gy more than anything else. Thanks Apu 🙂

  3. I am the one who tries and tries to control, and then gets upset when things do not happen, and he is just 3. I am just replicating the relationship that my mom and I had, and I hate it. Maybe I just need him to grow up to be who he is meant to be. This is going to be so hard. As far as the book goes, yes I agree it is totally needed. 🙂

  4. So sweet and wonderful. My younger son is almost 9 as well. Of late, I've seen that procrastination has become quite normal for him. But since the school reopened this year, he takes his books and does all his homework without me asking him. Such a pleasant change this is. On Saturday, when his elder brother is off to school, he and I are alone at home and he is so well mannered. We even go over some lessons together, and he is in general receptive to do things around the house. But, there are times, when he is so cranky, he will just not listen. Ah, kids!

  5. I think it happens more when they are younger, Jaibala, because they cannot understand us and we are always in the 'Why can't you understand?' zone. Give it some time. I also think we are better equipped to deal with these situations today than our parents were. Something to learn from, don't you think? And thank you so much for the vote of confidence on the e-book! Such a pick-me-up this Monday morning 🙂

  6. That's so heartening to read, Rachna! I know it's slightly different for boys as well, since they need more nudging, I've noticed. Again, not true of all boys, most of them I know :)That going over lessons together is one of my favourite things too. Such a bonding experience. I dread the day when I cannot understand head or tail of her lessons and she will say 'This is too tough for you, Amma' 😀

  7. What a heart-warming read, Shailaja. Reminded me of a young Vidur so much! One of the things I am ever-grateful for is his penchant for routine. Start him off on one thing and he'll do it exactly the same way until we change it. One of those things was finishing homework as soon as he came home and then, regale us with stories of his day. The most delightful thing. My Mom often said that it is parents who think we've said something so many times – but the only time that matters is when the child actually listens. 🙂 So mission-accomplished!

    I admire you for the way you're dealing with it. “Yes” is a fabulous word! And if there is one thing I have learned from my son, it is to always speak sweetly. 😀

  8. I am actively working on that bit, Vidya- the saying things too many times. I have an annoying habit of doing that! So true about the fact that children listening and absorbing is more important than us repeatedly telling them something. Speaking sweetly is such a valuable lesson too 🙂 Thanks for being around. Always. Hugs 🙂

  9. Kids are so much mature than we give them credit for, and this sometimes happens with adults too.

    It is so heartening to realize that we should let go of that illusion of control once a while, but easier said than done.

  10. I can relate to this on so many levels. For me, it's silly small things…fridge should never have half filled bottles, all things should be kept at their proper places after use, doing things my-way etc etc. But as AG is learning to have his own individuality, learning to take decisions, I am learning to let go and looking at things from his perspective, which though different from mine is also right. So, yes, we have a lot to learn from our kids too. Love the relationship you share with your lil one.

  11. I only have a 3 year old and I can vouch for the fact that the struggle is real. Maybe someday (in the very distant future) I may decide to take a chill pill. Someday.Who knows? One lives in hope.
    P.S. I am voting for the e-book too. While you continue writing the book that you want to, do consider compiling your parenting posts into an e-book. 🙂

  12. Thank you so much, Shilpa. You are absolutely right. It is difficult to relinquish control, especially when they have been the tiny beings who have hung on your every word, isn't it? Glad to know I am not alone in this 🙂

  13. That is something I thought too, Shantala, that I would never change. Because change is hard, uncomfortable and very messy. When you do it though, there is a sense of powerful affirmation which makes you realise this is the right thing to do.

    Thanks so much for the e-book vote 🙂 I just may have to do that at the earliest then 🙂

  14. I think the older I get and the longer I know both of my kids I have become less of a control freak. I just let it flow and go with it. Things are laid back at my house. I still have to keep them on the straight and narrow from time to time but on the most part it results in keeping the peace. 🙂

  15. I am a control freak expecting my teen to finish the chores in a jiffy but he stretches it to infinity. But I have not given up and burn calories everyday sermoning him

  16. Ah Kalpana, I am not sure what the future holds, in terms of the teenage phase. I do hope I drop my sermon act by the time she reaches that age. I love it when she talks and confides in me and hope that will continue for a long time 🙂

  17. Uff what a topic you've come up with. I've watched forever as my son struggles to tie his shoelaces or my daughter tries to frame her sentences. It seems way easier to reach out and do it for them yet I have to hold onto myself. And sometimes even accept a less-than-perfectly done task. It's a hard one.

  18. Like I said, this doesn't happen very easily with me and there are days I do reach out and do it for her. The only concern I have is that they are already growing up in a very cushy world and the more we do things for them, the more they get used to it. Time to cut the apron strings, one at a time. Else the teen years are going to see me go bald very soon 😉

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