Happy Mother’s Day!

It is easy to trivialize the role mothers play, until one actually walks a mile in their shoes. Last weekend, my cousin and her seven year old daughter visited. Need I say, the adorable little thing was a handful!

Given that I’m not used to having kids around, it just felt too tasking to be looking over my shoulder every two seconds to ensure she wasn’t running around in the kitchen when the burners were on… or locked up in the bathroom just washing her hands under the running water like a thousand times because she loves playing with soap and water, literally!

Every time she went out to play, I knew trouble could come knocking at any time because she’s very feisty. If she doesn’t agree with other kids on certain issues, she resorts to beating them up; either with her bare fists, or with whatever she can lay her tiny hands on. This latter issue is what has her mother almost petrified. She doesn’t know how to reign her sweet angel in.

She told me at some point she’d gotten so frustrated, that she had decided to quit her job; that way she would be able to keep an eye on my niece whenever she was out playing, because every time the girl went out to play, angry parents would be knocking on her door incessantly, complaining that her child had roughed up theirs.

I understood her frustration; she is giving motherhood her best shot, trying to keep her little angel in check, but somehow, like children manage to do, the girl is still reeling out of control. Interestingly, my cousin’s reputation as a ‘strict mom’ precedes her. From my observation, even my niece is afraid of her. In light of that, I am still unable to comprehend how my niece gets the guts to do everything her mom tells her not to.

I couldn’t help sympathizing with her. Anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see her raising her child would fault her for being a bad parent, courtesy of the mischief her child gets into; and how wrong they would be. If my little niece is acting up, doing everything she’s told not to do, it’s not because my cousin isn’t doing her job as a parent.

Truth is, children are not robots that can be automatically controlled to act a certain way; they have minds of their own. I don’t know much about parenting to be honest since I don’t have any children yet, but one thing I’m almost certain about is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ parenting style. Chances are my niece is going through a phase that she will eventually outgrow.

Watching my niece reminded me of someone I know; yours truly! At her age, I was also roughing kids up. My mom was summoned by my class teacher a couple of times because I’d fought with kids in school. Then I went to boarding school, and since my mom was far, the kids I roughed up would report me to the headmistress.

Funny thing is, I never bullied kids. My aggression was usually me defending myself if some kid attempted to bully me. It was usually the older kids picking on me, but to their surprise, I was a little firecracker; anyone who messed with me got hurt. Eventually I got tired of the violence and resolved to avoid getting into petty fights, seeing as violence only aggravated the issue.

Needless to say, my cousin heaved a huge sigh of relief when I shared my childhood experiences with her. She’d been visibly worried about her child becoming a recluse. I bet that’s what majority of parents go through; they want to raise ‘perfect’ kids, but kids end up failing them miserably.

Watching my little niece had me wondering if I’m ready to become a mother. The way I see it, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on earth. There is no educational course on motherhood, therefore one has to learn on the job. Furthermore, it is one of those jobs where one tries to put their best foot forward, but any miniscule ‘error’ (as perceived by society) attracts so much unwarranted criticism.

Mothers bear the brunt of their children’s faults, regardless of how old that ‘child’ is. “Your mother never raised you right”, is a common phrase people throw around when displeased by one’s actions/omissions. Unbeknownst to them, some mothers die trying to be the best moms, but their kids fail them.

It’s in light of this that I acknowledge mothers for the great work they do, but hardly ever get enough credit for. I can attest to the fact that raising a child is anything but easy. So as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I wish my cousin, my mom, and all the moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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