Wednesday, January 19, 2011
When You See Your Work In Your Toddler's Tears...
The last few weeks were hectic. With the launch of your magazine round the corner, the work is sure to go up fast fast fast. And there are so many things you need to finish just RIGHT NOW....nothing can be left to tomorrow, or even to 'after some time' it seems.
All of my work days have a set pattern. I wake up most days and wake up my little angel. Get her ready for school (of course the usual cajoling and running around the house to make her finish that glass of milk and to tear her away from that morning cartoon show she loves to catch for ten minutes before I whisk her away in my arms to the school bus). Tell her she needs to finish her lunch and have lots of fun as well.
I stay at the gate till I can see my daughter's image turn into a small dot, till I can no longer see those tiny ponytails or see the wave of her hand as she waves me goodbye and blows kisses at me. And the moment the bus is out of sight, I dash. The moment my baby is off to school, my mommy mode gives way to the work mode.
I got a call this week from her school. From her teacher. That my baby was being extremely fussy and touchy about things and that she was crying a lot. That she suddenly was craving for more attention and assurance, that she was not ready to part with any of her things even for a second.
As hubby and I sat with the teacher, we knew what was going on. It was my work, that work that I was consciously taking care to not interfere with her world, but that did manage to get into her little world by bits and pieces. And now I could see my work in those little, yet so-difficult-to-look-at tears that rolled down those cheeks and straightaway pierced my heart. I knew I had to get this sorted.
I tell parents all the time to not go on a guilt trip, but to be honest, of course I went on a guilt-trip immediately. For, all of her actions were screaming out only one thing, that somehow, she felt she was not the main focus of my world anymore, that there were more important things in mommy's life now......
Every parent who goes back to work feels this way, isnt it? You really can't blame yourself. We all take the utmost care to make it clear to our little ones that they are our top and only priority, rest all will follow....but they do pick up things...
After a lot of brooding and sitting going over the events of the past, I jotted down a few signals that I realised were signals that my work was affecting my daughter and that I needed to take a different approach:
Signal #1: My daughter hates my laptop, I know that for a fact. She knows it is that one thing that can for sure keep mamma away from her for a long time. So whenever she wants to plan something naughty, something that is forbidden, she asks me to work on my laptop.
Signal #2: Whenever anyone tells her they need to speak to her mum, she replies that her mamma is very busy
Signal #3: My daughter has become extremely touchy of late. No matter what the issue or what we say, almost anything and everything reduces her to tears these days.
Signal #4: Mood swings are a regular part of our family now. One moment she is extremely sweet and friendly, the next she does not want to talk or play at all.
Signal #5: Refusal to mix with other and only cling to mamma. She refuses to go and play with friends, and even when she does, she wants me to be always present in front of her eyes, to be near her so that I can either hold her hand or she can come over to me and I can give her a hug.
There are many more signs I realised I was too busy to notice of late. Babies have a different way of communicating than us grown-ups. They cannot voice their hurt or tears in so many words, so all that is bound to come out some way or the other. And in most cases involving toddlers, the tears and the tantrums are signal enough that the parents need to sit down and take a look at what could be going wrong. It may be tough to handle your child in such times, and of course you may get frustrated, but scolding or ignoring your child will only make the situation worse, and in graver scenarios, can seriously harm your baby's self-confidence. In my case, I have figured out the changes I am going to make in my work and lifestyle. We were always giving her our 100% love and attention - now we will make it to 200%. And we are making sure that we will reinforce and make her realise each day that work, and everything else, is unimportant (as compared to her and the time we spend with her).....Of course work is important, we need her to understand that sometimes mamma and papa can be busy with some very important work, but otherwise, she will be sure that she is all our world and all that we need from this world.....
And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ