As life goes on, there comes a time when you start thinking about marriage, and, eventually children. Maybe couples of the new generation think only about marriage and not the children at this stage. In our time, this was the natural thought process.
Once upon a time I too was at that stage. While working, and enjoying lunches with friends, I would often come across mothers scolding their children; little girls engulfed in arguments with their mothers. With one last look at those crying, arguing children, I would leave with the determined thought that
And then, sadly, soon after you become a mother, your bubble is burst, and your dream-world is shattered. You suddenly find yourself on the other side of the fence, and guess what; the picture here is entirely different from what you had imagined.
When children are young, they have to be disciplined, and there were times that was an unpleasant process. But it is when they enter their pre-teens and teenage years that the real challenge starts …
She is looking at me, with her beautiful eyes. She cannot believe I am not allowing her to have the Facebook or YouTube account even when all her friends have them.
That I am asking her to do an extra hour of Math and English on weekend even when there is no homework from school.
That she cannot buy that new shirt, the latest fashion, even when it is on sale.
That she has to read Little Women before she can read the sequel of The Maze Runner.
That she has to accompany me to a Saturday brunch even when there will be no other children her age there.
She cannot believe that she isn’t allowed to stay out until midnight even on a Friday.
And yet, I am guilty of all of the above.
Maybe I am wrong in trying to teach her to stand up for herself and do what is right, even when everyone else is doing something else.
In disciplining her study habits, and strengthening her basic concepts for the rigorous IB routine.
In teaching her not to over-spend no matter how cheap something is, because there are people in the world who can benefit from the money she wants to spend on what she doesn’t need.
In trying to have her read quality literature so her imagination is not overshadowed by today’s fast-paced and unrealistic trilogies and blockbusters.
In building within her an appreciation of family and friends who are not her age, but are important in our lives.
Maybe I am wrong in ensuring her health and wellbeing on a busy Friday night.
I, too, get tired sometimes …
Of saying no to sleepovers every other weekend.
Of getting those Skype calls ended.
Of saying no to going shopping alone.
Of saying no to buying the latest iPhone or Gameboy.
I, too, get tired of reminding her to check with me before trying out a new website or an app.
I, too, am always scared …
Of whether I am doing the right thing.
Of things happening to my child which we all think never will, but what if they do?
Of whether I have become so busy that my children need Skype, lone shopping trips and other gadgets to keep themselves engaged.
Of whether the warnings about social media sites are falling on deaf ears.
Of whether my children will grow up without strong values and a social responsibility because they were busy following their peers doing the “cool” things, and not the right things.
When this fear sets in, the tiredness takes off, and I get up with a new resolve to keep trying. I realise, I will try at any cost.
At the cost of my children thinking of me as a monster mom.
At the cost of my children resenting me sometimes.
At the cost of being the odd ones out.
But I realise, that’s ok.
The children will forget soon enough, and they will still love me.
There is a part of me that thinks, “It’s ok, kids nowadays grow up in a different environment so all of this is normal.” Then there’s the part of me that thinks, “Is it not I that creates this environment? I, and many other parents like me? So it is we who control the environment our children grow up in; it is my choice”. I have to decide whether I will stay silent, give in and let things take their natural course, at the expense of my children getting hurt; or whether I’ll be strong, bold and mould the environment into what I feel is appropriate for them
Yes, these are the things I have to think about when I decide if my 11-year-old daughter can open a Facebook account, when the appropriate age is actually 13.
The things I have to think about when I decide whether my 9-year-old girl can have the latest iPhone she wants.
The things I have to think about when I am pressured to say yes to a sleepover without knowing much about the host family.
It is very easy to let myself believe my child will not do something wrong, or that I will be more vigilant. The question is, what if, just what if both of the above fall short? What if my child does do something wrong? What if I am not vigilant enough despite thinking that I am? Will I be able to live with the consequences?
Motherhood is beautiful; it is lovely and rewarding. It is, in my humble opinion, the best thing that can happen to someone. If I had to choose just one role, I would choose this. And because it is the best thing that happened to me, I want to be the best at it, and that is what makes it challenging. You wanting to be the best for your children, your angels, your heartbeats, on a completely unknown path where you have to be very careful about every choice you make.
About Rabia Mughni
Rabia stays involved in various social causes. Believing in creating equal opportunities for underprivileged kids, she helps The Citizens’ Foundation, Pakistan, to create awareness of the need for providing quality education to children. At the same time, she is also involved with Singapore-based VWO, 4PM's Ramadan on Wheels project by supporting it through the FUCHSIA platform. At FUCHSIA, Rabia oversees the Marketing and Public Relations work. She is also part of the Editing Team in conceptualising articles and monthly issues.