Being a mother is hard. I always imagined the kind of mother I would be. I wanted to be stern but sensitive, kind but disciplined, loving and always protective. I would be protective over the things she would see, what she would hear, where she would go and what she would do. But now, having been a mother for4 years to a beautiful little girl and infant son, I realize that things are not always in my control. Having patience, discipline, and time management are the three things I struggle with most as a mother. A mother’s guilt can be like the sea, endless and relentless. But I learn from myself and from my daughter and from the experiences we have together every day.
Patience was a virtue I never had, especially when I t came to children. I never gushed over other peoples babies, or played with toddlers. I never liked children because I felt I could never relate to them. Growing up I was only child and I often had endless hours to myself, but I was also responsible for a lot at a very young age, such as cooking and cleaning, and watching over myself while my mom was out or at work. I would wash clothes at the laundry mat downstairs from our studio apartment in Sunnyside Queens; I would have dinner on the table at 6pm by the time my mom would come home. I would make the beds and clean the house and finish my homework without ever asking for help, although I may have needed it from time to time. I had to grow up quickly; that’s what being in a single parent household does to children. Someone has to pick up the slack for the missing parent, and that slack usually falls on the child. When my daughter was born, I quickly had to learn the essence of having patience. I was up every hour all night for feedings, she would often cry endlessly or whimper for reasons unknown to me. Sleep deprivation was the hardest for me to deal with and it’s very hard to learn to be patient when one is lacking a key ingredient: sleep. Then as she grew and every hour turned to every 3, 4, and 5 hours and she eventually began sleeping through the night. Another parenting vice reared its ugly head: Discipline.
Discipline began early on for my daughter in the form of time-outs. Ameera seemed to mature very quickly and demanded everything from dressing herself, to specified meals, to napping when she wanted. And of course I was to have none of that. I told myself to be firm, to put my foot down, I was the master and I was under complete control of the situation. Although my tactics worked most of the time I also became a tyrant, giving spankings at will and Ameera would become spiteful and lash out by having hour long temper tantrums that made the twisted head of the exorcist look like doe-eyed Bambi. She would suddenly turn red in the face, while screaming at the top of her lungs, drop to the ground and thrash her arms and legs uncontrollably in fit of rage, hitting walls, bed posts, and furniture never once stopping to acknowledge the pain that must have been radiating throughout her entire little 2 year old body. She would become possessed! And I was no match for her unnatural strength. Discipline was no easy task, and I would have to come up with some new tactics.
Ameera is now turning 4 in January. And one thing I have learned is that Patience truly is the key to successful parenting. I made a pact with myself one day after I witnessed my daughter innocently playing with her dolls in her room, she was pretending to be their mama and she was screaming at them and violently shoving them around and punishing them. I stood there in utter shock…..she was mimicking the way I was with her! It was like looking into a mirror and it was the worst feeling I had ever felt. Then and there I decided NEVER AGAIN! I was spanked as a child by my mother and father and believed that that was the best way to discipline children when they get out of line. But now I realize that you are only teaching your own children to be impatient, and lash out, and hit when angry. So now when I am angry I simply take a deep breath and ask her to sit in time-out till she is ready to act like a big girl, or stop crying, or stop whatever it is she is doing and go about my business. I don’t lose my temper, or spank her (although I still do threaten to do it sometimes, but don’t), or scream at the top of my lungs. And as a result our relationship has become much stronger, and I have learned to cope with anger and be patient. And Ameera is learning to be the same way Alhamdulillah.