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Tharini’s post has affected me in many levels. I just couldn’t stop with a short comment.

First of all, her post is a window in to my thoughts. Second of all, though I feel the same way, I could have never put it down as eloquently as Tharini. Thirdly, I am not alone – that gives me a lot of strength to face the day to day battles.

This is something I have gone through with Chula, still do every now and then. Hubby and self even fear her in some ways. We have complained to each other about the pain of dealing with her when she is throwing a tantrum. She has been called feisty, rebellious, adamant, stubborn, opiniated and few other names in those lines by the people in our lives. I too believed that she is a stubborn child. When we are in the heat of the moment, when she is screaming at the top of her voice and behaving unreasonably all I want to do is lash out so bad that she is scared to behave the way she does. But a month back, sitting in a class discussing how to deal with toddler meltdowns, it came to me – I am creating a self fulfilling prophecy. By believing that she is stubborn, all my actions are based on that assumption and it only kept adding to the stubborn streak in Chula.

Another problem I had and still have though I am consciously trying to wean myself off it is individuating from Chula. For a long long time I thought and treated her as an extension of myself. You yearn to have a child, after such long time you are blessed with a child, you have such visions – the perfect diet, the perfect schedule, the perfect activities, the perfect toys, the perfect clothes, perfect, perfect, perfect. Well, striving towards such perfection only lead to tears and heart ache – both mine and Chula’s. I always assumed that I knew what was the best for her. When she deviated from my perfect plans, my whole world came crashing down.

Then Mieja came along. I have wondered if hubby and self were too quick to have the second one and by doing that, placed this enormous burden of being the big sister, being the responsible one on Chula’s shoulders. But in many ways my little Mieja has been Chula’s saviour and a real eye opener to me. With two little kids, I found that I can be involved in their lives only to a certain extent. If I sat with Chula perfecting everything to my liking and micromanaging her life, litle Mieja would be left all alone. In fact that was exactly what happened in the first 6 months of Mieja’s life.

In Chula’s first 18 months of life, not a single day had passed without me some how getting in to her system, her recommended amount of nutrition. I had personally seen to it. I had followed it even when we were travelling – of course she always threw up most of it after all the effort I had put in. Also she had never missed her nap time. If Chula protested, I used to get agitated that I am going through so much stress for her sake and she does not understand or appreciate it. As a comment to one of my posts Poppin’s mom mentioned that what we ARE as parents has more far reaching effects than what we DO as parents. It is so true. Controlling Chula’s life and perfecting it was stressful. I was this horrible schedule monster. At the end of all this, Chula might grow up to be dependent, unsure of herself and with a poor self esteem as a result of what I am and what I do will be completely lost. (Poppin’s mom that was a very profound statement. As I am writing this post I am seeing the statement in a very different light and all of a sudden all the layers and hidden meanings are unraveling!)

After Mieja’s birth I discovered that I don’t have the energy to maintain two such schedules! Also came the realization that it is not just enough that if a parent is involved in their children’s lives, but a parent must also know when to get involved.

I never had problems individuating from Mieja. I have never held her responsible for the expectations I place on her. May be I am experienced the second time around. Or I know that this is my last child and I either live up this moment or loose it forever. Or I realize that in the big scheme of events its okay if certain small things don’t fall in place. Or may be I am and will always see her a baby and am ready to cast aside the little stuff. Or may be just the lack of time. Or a combination of all the above. I don’t know.

Now a days I don’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t loose it if Chula does not finish her food to the last bit. I am totally against wasting food. So, I box it up, telling her that it is her food and that she must finish it later. The remains will turn up on her plate later the same day. Whenever there is a tantrum, I sit down hugging her, wait for her to cry it out and then talk to her. Most of the time, just the sitting down with her and hugging her itself does the trick. May be it makes her feel worthy and respected – I don’t know what goes on in her mind. Few of the times when the hugging is not enough and she is still sobbing, I tell her that I do not understand crying and that she needs to use her words to get her point across. She is just 33 months and is not able to do that. So I help her with prompts, ‘Are you sad?’, ‘Do you know why?’, ’What can I do to make you feel better? ’, ‘Do you know why amma said {this} and did {this} ?’, ‘Are you still sad?’…etc. I do this even in public places. I have sat down on street pavements, in the mall, parks, parking lots, public restrooms, amusement parks and today at the beach. There are times none of this works. In those times, I just walk away with Mieja in my arms (I know that Chula’s will definitely try whacking Mieja just to get to me and something holding this little bundle gives a sense of fulfilment ) because at those times I know for a fact that I will do more damage to Chula by being with her.

Am I doing the right thing? Only time can tell.