Today, I am delighted to kick off the Guest Post series on my blog in 2018 with this parenting piece by Jaibala Rao titled, ‘Being Mumma’. I came across Jaibala through a blogging community a few years ago and was always struck by her strength as a single mom and her gentleness as a person. It gives me great joy to feature her here today as she speaks about being a mom. I love reading her and I am sure you will too. Jai, thank you for writing this post.
“I want to have my birthday Party”, and that is how it all began. What began you ask?
Well, this is my journey from guilt to stubbornness to finally giving in and eventually finding a balance between what I wanted to do and what S wanted to do for his 6th Birthday. It has been a roller coaster and I want to take you on that ride with me.
S is a usually satisfied child, a happy child finding pleasures in the small things in life. We had even planned what we will do for this birthday and all the places we will visit, but one day he came to me and he laid down the demand that he will have a birthday party. Now my usual reaction to this would have been yelling You will do as I say, but something made me stop.
Now don’t get me wrong.I am not the kind of parent who will give into my child’s demand at the drop of a hat; if anything, people who know me describe me as a sometimes over-strict mother. And I am not the kind who would spend without thinking either. And I really could not afford to have an excessive party, firstly because I don’t believe that a child S’s age should have extravagant birthday celebrations (not judging the parents who do, just my perspective).
And secondly I really could not afford it, having had a few bad months work wise (you know how the freelancer life is; when it is good, it is very very good and when it is bad, it is very very bad).
So began an emotional dilemma like I had never faced before. Do I give in and spend money that I don’t have, and how do I explain that to a soon-to-be six year old? I understood that this demand is stemming from somewhere and I realised that he had attended paities of all his friends which had Magicians, Bubble shows and even more. Now the need to have a similar birthday was bound to come in his mind. Plus he wanted to celebrate with his friends.
Now I began to think. I managed to have enough debates with myself that if I was researching something, I would have made a Nobel Prize winning discovery. But sadly the crux of the matter was to have or not to have a birthday party. I thought about all the money I don’t have to spend, and even felt that S was being unreasonable. I even cursed myself for having to think so much about a birthday party.
Even we celebrated ours back in the day, but then those days were different. I deliberated with myself (yes you could have found me talking to myself all those times) because in my head having a party was giving into his demand and not having one was breaking his heart, I decided to have a heart to heart with S. The struggle between my head and my heart was real.
And so was the guilt. Wasn’t I responsible to fulfil all that he demands as his only parent? But then if I did that was I spoiling the child too much? I wrestled with so many permutations in my head, cursed our generation of parents and his generation of children, and then I felt guilty about doing that too. I was frustrated, and I did not know who to talk to for solving my problem. And then it struck me, there was one person, the only one who could give me my answers, the only person I had not spoken to.
Sometimes we forget how important talking to our children is. We keep making assumptions based on web articles and blog posts (like this one) and forget to listen to the kids and what they actually think. So while here I was assuming S wanted to show off in front of his friends and throw a larger party what I actually realised was something different.
HE said to me “Mumma but if I don’t have a party then no one will know it is my birthday!” So the idea in his head was not to call a lot of people and have a magic show, he just wanted to call his friends over so that they knew it was his birthday. HE wanted to share his day with his friends. I have never felt so ashamed in assuming so much. It was a small valid demand, that I turned into such a big circus into my head.
So the end of the journey is we are having a smallish (he did manage to negotiate a few things from me) party next month resulting in a Happy S and a Happy me.
And the biggest lesson I learned is to listen to S, he can express what he wants to say and do it very well.
And I need to stop being his mother first and learn to let go of my anxiety and enjoy being his “Best Friend” (as he calls me).
About Guest Writer, Jaibala Rao
Academically a microbiologist and professionally a screenwriter, blogger and columnist, Jaibala is regularly featured on various reputed online publications. She was awarded the best Creative Writer 2017, at the Orange Flower Awards by Women’s Web, has been listed as a power digital user in 2016 and has been featured on India’s top bloggers’ lists twice in a row . Jaibala is very passionate about writing and blogging and regularly speaks and conducts workshops to help other bloggers and writers.
She blogs here: At Some Point https://atsomepoint.in/
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*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock