Raising a child

Parenting is many things: It is patience as you sit and watch your child swing on his red swing for the 246th time, and passing a smile every time he screams “MAMA, MAMA, LOOK OVER HERE.” It is self-control as you clean yet another dirty diaper while your baby squirms and tries to put his hand in the gooey mess. It is pride when he learns to say the most mundane word like “ajao. It is happiness as he looks around a room full of people and stops looking only when he sees you.

Parenting is many things. None of them is easy.

It’s been a year and half since you had your first baby – a boy – and you still haven’t gotten over the slight uneasiness you felt since the very day you found out you were pregnant with him. How are you supposed to raise a tiny little human being, incapable of doing anything for himself? How do you decide what’s right and what’s wrong for him? You know the basic idea – Facebook, television shows, and an older sibling have been your greatest informants. You know enough to teach him things like: don’t be evil, share things, don’t watch reality television (unless of course there’s absolutely nothing better coming on)…but what about the finer details?

All the parenting articles you have read on Facebook (you’re a lazy kinda gal) tell you to practice what you preach. That’s an obvious lesson number 1. But you soon realize that this is painstakingly hard.

Telling him to eat healthy means no chocolates for yourself as well and you can’t sneak in those two teaspoons of sugar in your chai when your husband isn’t looking. And no cold drinks. You falter many times.

You have a role model in your head for the person you want you child to become. You mostly hope he turns out something like his father. Baba’s got a horrible singing voice and doesn’t watch Gilmore girls, but apart from these horrible vices, he has the basics locked down: kindness, good manners and humility. You know saying kindness is so clichéd and is akin to admitting you liked reading R. L. Stine novels growing up, but it’s something terribly lacking in today’s adults. You want him to look at people who might need help and jump to their rescue without even thinking about what’s it got in store for him. You want him to feel bad when he hears someone isn’t doing well, and not be ‘okay’ with it.


You don’t want him to backbite. You want him to always be welcoming to guests and not be stingy. You want him to have a big heart.

You want him to be religious. Not a fanatic, but someone wise and enlightened, who prays regularly and love God and His creatures.

Whenever someone praises you, you always play it down a little bit. You hope this will help him realize that taking pride in things that weren’t a result of hard work is just silly.  

Of course your husband has his own set of ideals and wants him to be strong willed and to be able to stand up for himself. You have had many discussions on how to do this. You think one way to encourage his confidence would be to not hold him back when he tries something new, to encourage him when he attempts something even if that means a little mess, and if he gets into trouble, have his back. You hope your experiment is successful.

You want him to know that looking good and presentable every day is not a chore and is something everyone should do every day. You are mostly found in your slightly torn floral blue trousers and an oversized grey shirt, so this will be a problem. But you promise to work on this so that he somehow feels it is the norm.  

You want him to definitely respect those older than him. You hate that cousin of yours whose official job, it seems, is being rude to her mother and is constantly reminding her of all the reasons she hates living with her. You hope he is nothing like this. You want him to be respectful when speaking to anyone older, be patient with them, let them finish their sentences, and to value their opinion. You secretly worry if this set of values will make him feel that there is no room for his own opinion, but there is. There is.

You often find yourself at the end of the day sitting in your bed, tired and half crazy, looking at your baby boy sleeping, and wondering… were you a good mother today? You screamed at him when he dropped water in the morning, you were busy Facebooking when he kept telling you to look at him running around the lawn, and bedtime was just not fun today.

You sigh and look at your husband. He reassures you with his oft repeated mantra. Your baby boy is healthy and happy. He’s okay. You’re okay.

So that’s pretty okay for today, isn’t it?

This article is shared by Asmaa Shahid

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