I played a game with Princess No. 2. We wrote down 5 words that best describe ourselves and the other person. This is what I came up with for her, after pondering for almost 2 minutes:
When we exchange our list, something pop inside me. A gaping difference stared at me in the face. Her list contains all positive words. Me? I have 1 negative thing about her. If I have not restricted the list to 5 words, I would probably have written down more of her “shortcomings”.
Obviously, when asked to describe herself, the princess thinks about the good ‘her’ with no hesitation. Her mother, on the other hand, pinpoints what she felt was lacking in this child of hers. Now, it’s not that Princess No. 2 is an arrogant child who thinks the world of herself. When talking through what we have on the lists, she acknowledged and accepted them as her. Even the negative ones. She knows she is made up of all that, but she chooses to see her strengths. I, in contrast, choose to see a negative aspect and highlight it.
It dawns upon me that my 8 year old knows more about life than me. There is always a good and a bad. Why beat ourselves up by focusing on the bad? It’s not a denial of our weaknesses. It’s knowing and accepting who we are but choosing which perspective to take.
Yet as a mother, I tend to forget this.
I often put on my pair of critical glasses when looking at my children. I see the areas that they are lacking, magnify them a thousand times and convince myself that they are going to grow up being a loser if they don’t change. How can I bear such thoughts? No! I have to “set them right” before their life is ruined! So I nag at them about not keeping their rooms and drawers and bags tidy. I chide them for not knowing how to “prioritise” (whose priority is it really, theirs or mine?). I tell them off when, on Sunday mornings, they laze in bed reading rather than jump out of bed enthusiastically to brush their teeth.
I forgot. I forgot that they are kind at heart, showing compassion for even little ants. I forgot that they show honesty in their actions. I forgot that they care about me, showing it in little ways like reading and playing with their little sister when the father works late so that I can go take a shower. I forgot that they love each other because despite the squabbles and fights, they always keep a cookie for each other when their respective art teachers give them a treat at the end of every lesson .
Every parent desires the best for their children, and I am no different. But it is this desire that sometimes lead us to want to “perfect” our children. We forget that they are human beings, and no human being can be perfect. I am not perfect. So are my children.
The next time I see their books lying around on their beds, the sofa, the dining table and any possible corners of the house (which never fails to drive me crazy), I am going to make it a point to remind myself this .