I knew at the back of my mind there is always something wrong, something so incorrect about ways I deal and interact with my son sometimes. It was not until I read this article, specifically this paragraph that that ‘something’ can finally be verbalised:
Don’t jump in too quickly. “Resist the temptation to always take over and do it yourself to save time and frustration,” says Goldstein. Too much intervention can be just as detrimental as leaving your child to her own devices; it undermines her confidence and makes her reticent to strike out on her own in other scenarios. Parents often jump in when they’re crunched for time. If you know your child is going to insist on wriggling into her own pants before you go out for the day, build in some extra time to let her give it a try. However, if your child is truly heading for a meltdown, step in and offer instructive help. If she can’t get her foot to the end of her pant leg, say “Sitting down may help,” and guide her to a chair.
Trust me when I say, as moms, 24 hours given each day is never enough. The to-do list of a homemaker is never-ending. It is one after another. Every Saturday morning I wake up with a list of things to do: laundry, then sweeping the floor, then prepare breakfast, feed Isa, clean the table and kitchen…you know the drill.
And often, with a curious little kid like Isa around me who’d like to join me in every single thing I do, things progress slower.
When the perfectionist side of me emerged, and the urge to cross the items on my to-do list become uncontrollable, I had to just, as described in that article, jump in. I know it is so ‘wrong’ – I am selfish in that way I feel.
Instead of letting Isa learning to feed himself, I feed him because it is much quicker, with less messy outcomes.
Instead of allowing Isa to enjoy his bubble time in the bath tub on weekends, I let him take shower instead to save time.
Instead of giving him the opportunity to walk by himself, letting him wander freely before getting to the car, I’d choose carrying him to make sure we get to the car quickly.
I am always rushing. And not only that it is not healthy for me, it is never the right thing for Isa too.
It does not help either that most of the advice that I receive from seasoned mothers include stuff like: ‘Why don’t you just put him on a bouncer and let him watch the TV while you do the house chores?’, ‘If I were you I would not let him hold his own glass to drink – save me time from cleaning and having to change his wet shirt later’. While I am pretty comfortable with the way I parent, at moments it still bothers me.
Maybe I should join the ‘slow parenting’ movement.
I have to say I was enlightened when I came to read the book ‘You are Your Child First Teacher‘. While I am still far away from finishing it, reading Chapter 2 of the book gives me a new light to everything.
I know it does sound bad when I said it like this to my husband: I don’t know if I can stand staying at home full time with my children. I doubt even with being with them 24/7 I could be a better parent – I doubt that all the time spent together would be quality time.
As much as I love to be their first teacher, or even homeschool them, all the chores need to be done still. On many days that I took a break to be with Isa alone at home I was always occupied – there are laundry to settle, cleaning to do, meals to prepare..and with all those I did wonder if staying at home will ever allow me to read more books to Isa, to play intentionally with him, or do other ‘enriching and educational’ activities.
And it was not until I read this I began to see things differently.
‘A second factor in the difficulty of being home with young children is our focus on the child instead of on “the work” of homemaking, which has largely disappeared through prepackaged foods and all our labour-saving devices. Modern life simply doesn’t support what young children need, which is to see us doing work that involves movement. What they actually see us doing isn’t satisfying to them. As a result, they seem to demand more attention, when in fact they are asking to observe us doing “real work” that involves movement and transformation of materials – something they can both share in and imitates in their play.
‘She (Jean Liedloff) says in her article,”Being played with, talked to, or admired all day deprives the babe of this in-arms spectator phase that would feel right to him. Unable to say what he needs, he will act out his discontentment. This is the attention-getting behaviour parents interpret as needing more attention when in reality, the child just wants parent to take charge of adult life, because the child needs to see a life in order to imitate it!’
You could say that these are nothing but a speculation. They are nothing but theories on how the little minds work. But this explanation and justification satisfy me in many levels.
First, the guilt – the ‘something is wrong’ feeling that I had is validated. I began to realise that I was subscribing to the idea of dichotomous responsibility of a homemaker cum mother – to keep the house clean and do other house chores AND to educate the children, while in actuality,doing house works could be a learning opportunity too for the children, perhaps the most important lesson of all.
Second, it blots out the need for me to rush through things in the effort to make more time for ‘enrichment and educational’ activities with my son. It just make it unnecessary anymore when peeling onions, sorting out the laundry, folding the clothes, or sweeping the floor is far more enriching for my little man.
Ah, am I not thankful for the book?