My Son Made Me The Mother That I Am
This might seem strange to some. “You are the parent! What do you mean your son made you the mother that you are! You set the rules. You determine what kind of a parent that you are!”
Yes, I hear you. But, hear me out.
In the beginning of my parenthood, I struggled. Just like any other parent, I tried too hard on the things that were not that important:
- stock up on lots of toys
- feed my baby organic food
- daycare that cost a fortune
- fancy stroller
Over the next two years, I found out that those things were not important at all. My son would gradually tell me what was important to him at any given moment in time.
All I had to do was to listen and help him.
Through the process, the one thing I’ve learned is that parenting involves two people. Parenting is not a one way street: a parent telling the child what to do, how to live or what to eat. Parenting is a dynamic process that involves relating, reciprocating and validating from both parties.
Underlying good parenting is a good relationship.
The ultimate question in parenting should be: how do you manage the relationship between you and your child?
Every child is different. Mine has humbled me again and again. He’s not like any other person I have ever met. Due to very unique characteristics that he possesses, I’ve had to adapt my parenting to fit his needs. On top of that, he’s showing me different pieces of himself everyday.
I just try to keep up!
To keep up, I’ve had to:
- read a lot of parenting books and parenting blogs
- look for short cuts in life as well as in our days
- lean into a whole range of emotions: fear, happiness, sadness, grief and anxiety
- delve deep to find the strength to overcome my own weaknesses
I’m usually a person who meets challenges head on. But, parenthood is the one challenge that has been overwhelming:
- For the first year, it was a huge challenge just to get enough sleep everyday to be able to function.
- For the second year, at times, it seemed impossible to keep my son safe with all his physical activities.
- For the third year, taming tantrums took on a new meaning with over sensitivity issues.
When I look back at the past few years, my son has always shown me the way.
He tells me clearly what he wants:
As a baby, his cries were piercing and strong. His demands were uncompromising. As a toddler, he hated negotiation. He wanted what he wanted. That was that. Most of the time, it was not unreasonable. I just gave him what he wanted.
For a child, he is very cooperative:
You might think I spoil him from the above line item. But, actually, I have been successful in setting boundaries. Usually, he’s very cooperative if I took the time to explain why he couldn’t do something. As a baby, I’m pretty sure he relied on the tone of my voice to judge the situation. As he grew, he trusted my words and my demonstrations of consequences.
His sense of humor lights up the situation:
I have a very funny child. In some ways, I’m a very sarcastic individual. I think it rubbed off on him. He’s always making jokes and laughing. When I get frustrated, I picture his little laugh. It really gets me through tough days.
He is very independent in his thinking and in his actions:
From day one, he had strong likes and dislikes. As he grew into a toddler, his likes became obsessions. His dislikes became fears. He has set ways in which he wants to do things. Watching him play is like watching a little scientist at work. I learned to anticipate and follow his train of thought. As we are knee deep in toddlerhood, I learned to just let him do his thing.
He is empathetic:
I love this part of my son. I think it has helped in so many situations. I tried to instill empathy into him when he was a baby. But, I think he was also born with lots of empathy. When he was young, he often sensed “anger” in other kids or other adults in play spaces, then he “backed off” in those situations. I didn’t have to redirect him. As a toddler, he senses my “busyness” or “absent mindedness” when I’m focused on work, he reminds me to be mindful by demanding my attention.
He is sensitive:
I could do without a lot of over-sensitivities that he has. But, as days went by, I realized that his sensitivities also meant that he learned very fast. I never had to blatantly teach him skills. He learned by playing all the time. He’s mindful to everything I exposed him to. As any child in early childhood, he absorbed all the knowledge from his environment.
As you can see, my son’s personality made it easier for me to be a certain kind of mother. He’s the inspiration of my endless parenting rants. He’s the reason I use particular discipline methods and particular parenting tips over others.
I often wonder if I had multiple kids, would my parenting job be more complicated? I think so.
Every child has a unique personality. Having multiple relationships with kids of different personalities, it must be harder to respond to each child’s individual needs. In that regard, I feel a bit lucky.
As days pass, I’m excited to embark on the journey to get to know my son each day. I’m excited to grow with him into our parent-child relationship. In this relationship, I am a certain kind of mother because he is a certain kind of son.