Over the next few weeks, my youngest of four kids is turning 18. It was only yesterday that he turned 16 and before that my memory takes me to the buggy days of running around with him on the streets of Stanmore picking and dropping his elder siblings and seeing his eyes lit up with smiles as he received each one come and cuddle him. How can this boy be 18?
So many times, I whisper to myself saying “slow down please- I gave birth to you yesterday.”
Looking at my grownup kids I question myself how I passed all those stages of baby, toddlers, young kids, young adults to grownups! Initially it was so tough understanding being a young mother and understanding child psychology, but after year I feel like I understand them and understand why I had to go through dealing with so many characters starting from Bat man, Spider man, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Ed Edd and Eddy, Hong Kong Phooey, Powerpuff girls, Barbie doll, Cow and Chicken, Samrai Jack, Wackey races, Pink Panther, Top cats, Flintstones, Johnny Bravo, Scooby doo, Inspector Gadget and Bob the builder and not to forget the Dexters Laboratory nearly turned my kitchen into flames! Oh boy, parenting nearly killed me!
Looking at my boy today, who is heading out for his prom night, I feel proud as the boy has developed into a young version of human being. The hard work behind raising children especially some who have to do it single handedly deserve a reward at this stage. I love who my children have become today. Sensible, humble and adventures which in my opinion are three very absolute characters necessary.
Raj will be going to university in couple of months, means I will terribly miss my baby. So, I have been thinking about the relationship between a parent and children how it changes from time to time. When my eldest who is now 26 went to university, I had to take a step back and give him his space and take advantage of mine.
Over the years, my relationship with my eldest changed from mother and son to friends. There was no telling off or treating him like a child “most of us forget.” The relationship between parents and child change as years go by, and that is something we should all embrace with a good understanding and know that it benefits both sides in a longer term.
I always felt guilty especially raising my children as a single mum and knowing what they had seen and gone through as young children sometimes horrified me. I always worried about what sort of adults they will grow up as. What example will they set. Will their parents past interfere their future? So many endless questions and so many unanswered questions.
One thing I can share with you today is “no one escapes experiences of family drama” and we were not certainly the only one’s but we came out the strongest for sure.
I knew what my children needed from me back then- a safe place to figure it all out one day. As they grew up, they changed, like we change clothes. Their mood, habits, talks, sibling rivalry, friends, their likes and dislikes changed and most of the times were unpredictable. I always reminded myself, that they were children and I was the adult. I didn’t have friend’s or family around me that I could confide in or trust in that matter, so discussing my children’s growing up stages was quietly done between me and my soul. What kept me going was the idea of “what the world saw of us.” Sadly we all live amongst a judgemental world. Keeping their voices quiet was what I learnt to deal with the best. The whole drama was tiring, especially pretending that all is fine, yet in your heart of hearts know that everything is far from okay!
I had boundaries for my children as they grew up. They knew what freedom meant, and when I say NO it means it’s absolutely not fine to cross the line. They are smart kids and know how to push the buttons and find loop holes to escape, which is fine too. What’s more important is deep down they feel safe when there are clear-cut rules without exceptions.
Bringing up children as a single mum, especially in an Asian culture was not easy. Anything goes wrong “it’s always the parent that’s taken the full responsibility get’s blamed.” I was raising four young kids and dealing with four minds and characters was tough enough besides dealing with the rest of it. I always pushed my kids to doing new things, gave them freedom to stretch their wings to take risks, find adventures and whilst doing so, they sometimes came across trouble too- I stood right by their side to make sure they got up again and found a new path. I did so, because I was raised in a cushioned childhood where we had locked up boundaries which never led anywhere besides the stretch of our parent’s eyes. I feel I struggled a lot as an adult because I never had the opportunity to making my own mistakes or allowed to find my own journey. “With freedom comes responsibility and with responsibility comes greater freedom.” What I missed the most as a young adult was a listening ear and I had promised myself that when I become a parent, that’s one thing I will always land to my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I do get pushed around a lot by my kid’s but I keep my tempo very cool and I have learnt to stretch my patience to master’s level. I give chances after chances and believe that good will always come out my flash and blood. Remember, no one has died of tough rules and a bit of deaf ears.
Hugs and cuddles are going to be missed big time- which means they become special occasional treats as kids move away! I have always been someone who enjoys warmth of a touch and that is one thing I have taught my kids too. Hugs are very important, holding hands and assuring someone that it will all be fine is a sign of giving security and caring. I remember the awkward pull away from sulky teenage boys to now getting man hugs- truly special.
Be it a teenager or a young adult, they will make mistakes-I still do, lots of them. Sometimes kids act selfish, they’ll space out, they’ll get insecure and do stupid things because it’s the only way they see. They mess up so much you’ll wonder where you went wrong in your parenting. If you know it’s coming, it shouldn’t throw you off- trust me, when I say so! Consequences may be in order, but so is a whole lot of grace and the power of family unity. I have always taught my children to come speak to me, no matter how worse things get- they know one thing about me “I never give up on anything or anyone.”
Mum you know nothing! I have heard that often especially when the kids reach a stage where they believe they are Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King - I made sure they knew, I am THE MOTHER and I kept it relevant, and as brief as possible, but when I saw them facing fire on the road, I spoke some good solid words of advice to them, then stepped back to watch. I know their ego was not going to allow them to burn in the fire.
I enjoy Sharing my mother’s holly verses that fits any situation -My kids laugh and know it’s my way of getting my frustration out in words-and I enjoy speaking my mother language to remind myself that I too was ones a child. Even though three of my kids haven’t met my mother except my eldest son, the quotes from someone they might respect helps. I never forget that I’m the greatest resource they have, and they need my direction and in time they’ll thank me, even if it takes twenty years.
I never forget my kids are watching me. They get a lot more of an idea about what is right, wrong, good and bad from what I do than what I say- “I speak less as its most of the time taken as nagging” I am more of an action lady. I take motherhood position seriously. No, I’ll never be perfect, and I tell my kid that–but I don’t use that fact as an excuse to be lame. Swearing was and is not allowed in my house besides many other things, so I set an example of never swearing to them. Simple action has helped along away.
Finally If you’re like me, you’ll love parenting even if it is someone else’s child. I call everyone “my Dikro - meaning my child” However at times it can feel like a crazy balancing act…Do they need more grace? More rules? Do they need space, or hugs, or advice, or WHAT!!!??? It’s ok. You are not a super hero to have all answers. Frankly speaking no parent knows what their kids want half the time. Be like me, sit back and meditate or dance to your favourite music. Empower yourself and keep healthy by retaining your good energy. Keep communication open and I let my kids know that I don’t know what they need, but I want to be there for them.
I invested good time in my children through their early years to until they are grownups and I trust and respect they will show up to be good citizen too.