Of Blanket Forts, Parenting guilt and Holiday moments

Of Blanket Forts, Parenting guilt and Holiday moments

Shrieks of ‘It’s done! I’m free!’ rent the air outside my door at 1 pm this afternoon. It was Gy back from school, having written her last exam for the academic year. The joy in the air was so thick I could have cut it with a butter knife.

Her cheeks were flushed with joy when I opened the door to greet her. Flinging herself into my arms, she exclaimed, ‘It’s my Independence Day.’ Rolling my eyes at the hyperbole, I said, ‘Really?’

Giggling helplessly,Β she ran to hug her dad and relentlessly darted about the house like a puppy finding itself in a vast field. Β It took her a good ten minutes to calm down and I couldn’t help but smile at the laughter in her eyes.

So yes, the holidays have begun and it’s going to be two months of sheer laziness and relaxation. We started the celebrations early today, by watching an old Hindi film, one of our favourites. I may be taking the holiday bit too much to heart, since Β I haven’t even made dinner yet and it’s almost 7 pm here!

But, rules need to be broken every now and then.

Last night, she came to me with a very sombre face and I assumed she wanted some reassurance about the exam today. Instead, she blinked and swallowed hard and finally asked in a hesistant tone, ‘Would it be okay if I slept on the floor tomorrow instead of the bed?’

Surprised, I asked, ‘You mean like at a campsite? Sure, I don’t see why not. Would you like me to get your sleeping bag out and set it up?’

The change in her face should have been caught on camera. Throwing herself at me, she rested her head on my chest and whispered, ‘Thank you, Amma. Thank you.’

We held each other for a few moments and I stood there, drinking in the warmth of her embrace, that cherished hug that says without words that our actions matter.

Before you ask, the image here isn’t of a blanket fort that I made. Please, I am not that creative or patient. That’s a stock image.

#Parenting guilt can strike you any time, whether you're a new mom or a veteran. Click To Tweet

I’ll have you know I’ve doubted myself as a parent in the last week. People who know me, know that I don’t share pictures of my kid on social media. I stopped it a while ago, thanks largely to safety concerns. But that doesn’t mean I can stop others from doing it.

In the last few weeks, I’veΒ looked at pictures on Instagram and Facebook of kids who excel at sports or academics. I’ve seen updates of kids her age making wholesome, three-course meals for their families. I’ve kicked myself hard and called myself a failure for not pushing my kid, either academically or otherwise. I’ve even gone through Parenting Guilt 101, namely, focusing a lot on myself and my physical/emotional well-being to the exclusion of everyone else these last 2 months.

And it’s all eaten me alive. I admit it.

It’s crazy because I usually am the first to advocate that ‘You are enough’. You, as a person, are always enough. I repeat this to myself and to anyone who would care to listen, ad nauseum.

Yet, I fell victim to the guilt, just the same.

Academics matter, activities matter and so do the little things in life, perhaps more than we realise. If you were to ask me what I achieved as a child, I’d draw a blank. I used to sing but that was because I loved it and nobody pushed me into it.

I cannot force my kid to do something she doesn’t enjoy but I will encourage her to pursue something because she loves it. For now, it may be a sport. Perhaps in a few years, it may be something more creative or artistic. But I have no way of knowing for sure.

This is why moments like making blanket forts and setting up sleeping bags on the floor are important. They make me realise that even if I never raise a star athlete or a future doctor, I’m fortunate to have a kid who takes pleasure in the simple things.

Perhaps those are the holiday moments I should seek out and cherish every single day. Perhaps then, this parenting thing may get a bit easier.

 

Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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20 thoughts on “Of Blanket Forts, Parenting guilt and Holiday moments

  1. I hear you Shailaja, parent guilt has a way of biting us at times when we think we are doing enough to be the balanced parent our child needs.
    I’m with you on the belief that letting our children decide the course of their lives, based on what they love doing is actually the best. Because I have never seen anything positive come out of pushing children into anything they do just cause ‘they were pushed into it’.
    Sending loads of peace and contentment your way <3
    Happy holidays to Gy and yourself. May you two have lots of fun together πŸ™‚
    My Era recently posted The Glass of MilkMy Profile

    1. It does have a way of rearing its head, right? But I’ve realised (and keep realising every time I slip up) that what kids remember are how we treated them when they were growing up, not the marks they earned or the number of classes they attended. Love is the only answer.
      Thank you for the lovely wishes. πŸ™‚

  2. For a person like me who is always questioning oneself whether one is good enough, parenting tops the list…. Its not easy at all…. Esp with the onslaught of social media… The thought that We are the way we were meant to be gives some solace πŸ˜€

  3. You know me. I am the epitome of not pushing my kids. And they seem to be turning out fine. I also get bouts of parenting guilt but most times I brush it aside. We belong to the same tribe, Shailaja, and we are raising good children. I think in the long run that is the only thing that matters. Hugs to Gy. I saw the same excitement when the younger son finished his exams. Now he is waiting for his brother to be done and then there will be a riot.
    Rachna Parmar recently posted When is It a Good Time to Let Go of a Friend?My Profile

    1. We do belong to the same tribe, Rachna πŸ™‚ And I’m grateful for that. I do hope that I’m not doing my kid a disservice though. Then again, whatever I do, there’s going to be something I’d regret. So best is to live with no regrets.

  4. Shailaja, you are doing the best for your kid’s well being and that is the most important thing. Parenting is not easy but when you learn to have fun while doing it then it is a piece of cake. Way to go…

    1. Learning, sulekha. learning every day. It’s really hard on some days, especially when I feel unproductive on the mom front. But I’ve got to learn to let go and ease up on myself. Thank you πŸ™‚

  5. This post is so honest and insightful that I won’t add my perspective to it. It takes a lot of courage to share something like this with your readers, especially when they look up to you. But this vulnerability is what makes you better.

    Kudos Shailaja. Hope you and your family enjoy a lovely vacation.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Vishal. You’re really too sweet. Such a pleasure to see you here on the blog after a while. I’ve always found that being honest is the only way I can be true to my voice- as a blogger and as a person. I hope that sustains me forever. Thanks for the lovely wishes.

  6. Someday I’ll tell you the story of how I learnt the basics of Karate in secret. What I’ll tell you today is, because I was someone who had to learn a lot of things in “secret”, I wanted my son to pursue any and all interests he had (right now it’s drawing, but he’s five, which means that interest’ll last about two weeks at the most). I didn’t want him to lose out on anything the way I lost out on things. I will never force him to do things against his will though, cos I also advocate the idea of “You are enough.” The reason why I do is sometimes my son displays a maturity which isn’t right for his age; it breaks my heart and makes me guilty because I know where it comes from.
    For now, I will live for the simple moments too. Oh, and right after my 5th or 6th standard exams, I remember building a blanket fort and sleeping on the floor πŸ˜€
    Sreesha recently posted Unsent LettersMy Profile

    1. I flounder at this, to be honest, because I was a very content child. Never pushed into anything and I think I’ve turned out fine. Then again, people may disagree with that. But I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘Do this because I never got to do it.’ Not sure how that will work out.

      I do ask her to stay physically active because it’s one thing I never was and I’m reaping the ill effects today.

      As for the blanket fort, why am I not surprised? πŸ™‚

  7. I guess this guilt is a part and parcel of our lives as parents. I don’t want to push M too hard. I want to let her be and grow at her own pace. I don’t like the kind of pressure kids are subjected to these days and I want to save M from that. I hope I don’t end up doing it. Will have to keep reminding myself πŸ™‚

    Oh enjoy the summer vacation πŸ™‚

  8. You got nothing to worry. She is already much smarter than I ever was at that age. Look at all those questions she asks. Plus she will recall the blanket camp with much more fondness than any medals. And you are an awesome Mom. Have fun… Enjoy the holidays.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted 15 Books I read this yearMy Profile

  9. Awww! I think your’e a great mom. You know, moms and dads learn along with their children to be good parents. The important thing is to enjoy every moment, both the good and the things that could be better. I remember counting down to the day of the last exam and feeling so restless because I couldn’t think of a way to manifest the euphoria! Even today, I get more excited than Vidur about exams getting over. Love the post. Brought back so many memories for me! What plans for holidays? I remember you mentioning a certain something and I look forward to it!
    Vidya Sury recently posted Vaya Tyffyn 600 ml premium #lunchbox #Review Enjoy homefood on the go!My Profile

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