You have to be cruel to be kind

..or do you?

People always ask me how I manage to work from home with two kids running wild. And I’ve always smiled and said, ‘Very easily…’

Because the kids have just grown up taking my work in their stride. I work while they play, scream, run around playing hide and seek, sit by me colouring and when they were younger, they even slept in my arms while I worked.

But it seems as though they’re getting more resentful of our work as they grow. If they have a holiday and the OA and I are leaving for work they cling to us crying piteously at times “Don’t leave me alone…”. Perhaps its because they’re unused to being left by us that it upsets them so much.

The OA’s Bombay trips upset them and a couple of days ago he unfairly accused me of setting them up against his trips. I was too shocked by the accusation to do anything more than stare at him dumbfounded, my eyes welling up. But he leaves while they’re still asleep and so they don’t get to cry when he leaves, saving it up instead for when they wake up and see him missing and then coming to me sorrowfully… “Mamma, where’s Dada gone? To Bombay? In an aeroplane? I don’t like this Bombay. Why does Dada go?”

More than anything else, his trips stress me out because the pressure of work and children while being alone at home is more than I can claim to enjoy. I avoid shoots or late night events if he is travelling and if it happens to be a weekend then all activities with the kids are to be managed by me alone – and my life just comes to a stand still.

They also seem to get clingier when he travels and the days that he is away are spent just prising them off my person. I shove one off my chair, the other climbs in behind me. I take a break, read to them, play with them, get them involved in something and before you know it, they’re back on my chair again, literally pushing me off my seat.

Today the Brat took it to an extreme. I’d take him off from one side he’d get on from the other, standing on the back of my chair and rocking it. Distracting me from the piece I was writing and getting on that last remaining nerve. Tired of explaining, I snapped and told him to go to his room. He wouldn’t. I physically removed him and took him to his bed. He lay there crying. I came back to my room and desk and broke down.

The work, the growing kids and the absent husband are a lot more than I can handle most days. There’s a lot more to it and perhaps I should blog about it soon.

Taking a break I switched on the TV and Rang De Basanti was coming on one of the channels. Madhavan had just died and Luka Chhuppi came on. I had blogged about the song long ago (on the old blog) and it brought back memories of the post I had written on it, along with the memories of a younger more pliant brat. A brat who didn’t need to be disciplined. A brat who was cuddly, warm and pink cheeked (okay, so he’s still pink cheeked). A brat who meekly stayed home with a maid for the 5 days a month that I worked in those days. The song made me cry then and

It’s a struggle to get the Brat to do anything these days. And I meant it when I said I am a better mother to newborns than growing kids. I lose my temper. I scold. The Brat yells back. I send him to his room. He cries. I cry. I shudder to think of what lies ahead during the teen years.

I went to check on him a while later  and with the all the love and generosity of a four year old he’d forgotten the scolding and came running to me. I hugged him and we played something, did something and moved on. Except that I didn’t move on. Which is where this post comes in. If I’d moved on, I wouldn’t be here posting about it.

I’ve realised that being really firm and disciplining is fine, but dealing with my own feelings after that, is a nightmare. I lie awake worrying about how much I’ve scolded him. Was it effective? Was I right? Was it a big enough issue to discipline him over? Will he need therapy when I’m done with him?!

Spare the rod and spoil the child, says the Bible. And here, rod is not meant to be taken literally. But the meaning is clear, if you love your child, be firm. Don’t spoil. I’ve realised I’m basically a spoiler. I love sitting the OA down, fussing over him, making his drink, getting him a throw if it’s winter, offering him a back rub.. And the same holds true for the kids – I love fussing over them (I draw the line at cooking ;)) and the moment it comes to discipline, I’m just as sharp as the next disciplinarian. To be fair to the OA he is as much of a disciplinarian as I am, but with him being the absentee parent most of the time, the bulk of the enforcement falls to my lot.

The doubt and sorrow creeps in later. I keep wondering whether this is a big deal or not. Is jumping on the couch in your own home not allowed? What if you do it when a guest is sitting on the couch? What about running around barefeet? What about colouring within the lines? Am I teaching him that there are times when you have to follow instruction or curbing his creative instinct?

So – pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea and chat with me. How do you deal with this?


Edited to add: Since I mentioned the post about Lukka Chhuppi, I’m pasting it here.

Lukka Chhuppi – Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006  (5 comments!)

..bahut hui, samne aaja naa…. kahaan kahaan dhoonda tujhe.. thak gayi hai ab teri ma….

I was listening to this song from Rang De Basanti (on the iPod the mad sibling gave me!) on the way to work this afternoon. Yes, I work a few hours every few days and for those few hours I leave my beloved child with a maid.

So getting back to the point… I was listening to this song and I can’t describe the sinking feeling that came over me while I absorbed the song. I did watch the movie and I do know the song features when a mother loses her son who is in the airforce. But I was quite caught up in the movie when I watched it anyway so it is only now that I appreciate the song for what it is.

For the benefit of those who don’t understand hindi (that would be you dad!) it is a mother singing to her son as though they are playing hide and seek. Only she is alive and he is dead. She searches for him, calling out that dusk is falling and her eyes are growing dim with age…

The son responds by describing this paradise he is in…and how he is perfectly happy there and the only thing he is missing is her… its a content response to her sad cry of despair…

Hats off to Prasoon Joshi… the lyrics give you goosebumps… and your eyes well up….
I usually can’t stand Lata Mangeshkar but her voice suits this song – the quiver – an aging mother seeking a son….

AR Rahman has outdone himself… both, with the composition as well his voice…. the tempo rises in the end and if you listen to it loud or with little earphones so that it is the only thing on your mind, your hair stands on end….

Beautiful, touching, creative.. I could go on. But you need to hear and appreciate it yourself. It grows on you. Not an instant hit like Roobaroo or Rang De Basanti, the title song.

And I thought of the brat. I had left him sleeping, and today of all days when I bent down to kiss his plump, soft little cheek I just sank down on the bed and couldn’t make myself get up and leave. I buried my nose in his sweet smelling neck and hugged him and wondered why I bother to even do a part time job.

Before I had the brat I wondered why people always commiserated so much more with parents who lose a child. Its because it goes against nature. You give birth and they are the future. Young, fresh, new, full of hope. The idea is to leave a legacy behind on earth or something I guess. I don’t know. I don’t really care.

All I know is that once I had my son pretty much everything on the planet ceased to matter or exist. He is the future, my pride, my hope, my love. And I can’t even begin to describe the pleasure I get from being with him and bringing him up. His intelligence, his affectionate ways, his sheer pleasure at the simple things that I am too jaded to notice, bring tears to my over emotional self and I plan ahead for him… No, not being an enginner or a doctor… but that he will grow to be an intelligent, sensitive, aware, well adjusted person…. And while I dream these dreams I realise that I may not be there to see them come true. But not for a minute can I imagine him not being around while I am still around. It’s not right. Unnatural. I am the old. He is the new. He is meant to go on long after I stop.

Okay. Depressing post. Got to stop. Go hear the song. It’s beautiful. The lyrics, the music, the voices, the emotion behind it. Everything.


90 thoughts on “You have to be cruel to be kind

  1. This almost left me in tears..touched a chord..
    I go through the same when i snap…due to a lot of reasons. My dad who stays with me..tells me to have little more patience coz…ammu will forget and move on..but it will be difficult for me to do the same.. Precisely what you say here. Its comforting to know that i’m not alone.
    And yes..with disciplining..i too wonder if i go over the top at times.
    Sorry MM, no answers i have… will wait for the others to share some gyan here.

      • You left me crying early in the morning MM.. Being inexperienced that I am I dont have any solutions.. But I understand what you are talking about.. And just here to say that You are a great mother and the brat will say that even 50 years from now..

    • MM,

      You have left me crying dear…i am a s/w engr too leave behind my 3 yr old son at home. Now iwonder what i will tell my colleagues as i am going to have my lunch n they will surely notice my red eyes. My doctor had told me b4 delivery itself that, “Your child is your responsibility”…So very true,right…Ofcourse my hubby helps, but only if I ‘tell’ him.Anyway always great to know that ther are so many mad mommas like me…thanks a lot dear…

  2. Bummer right? am going thorugh the same thing myself. I was about to do this whole post too on how its so confoundingly frustrating that we wont know until after years and years down the line whether we did a good job parenting or not.
    I guess the dilemma is whether we’re letting them create and grow or just nipping things bcos they dont suit the time, place and situation. Wish I could check with someone at a kibbutz.
    You’re doing a terrific job MM, dont have a iota of doubt about that!

    • ah yes… only you guys would tell me that Nat. and yes, the bummer is that we dont know for years to come. but its only suddenly struck me right now as I began to reply. I know I cant do everything right. but I hope it matters to my kids that I tried to do the right each time and didnt pick the easy way out. I’d hate them holding that against me.

  3. What a post MM!! You’ve penned down exactly what I fret about (albeit your style is much more eloquent 🙂 )

    Disciplining is important. Our parents kept us in check and we are doing pretty good now (no need of therapy 🙂 )
    Where necessary, a sharp reprimand or scolding is justified.

    All I can say is that keep the faith and have patience.There’s still a long way to go…no point losing your cool now. Once the kids get used to it, they stop valuing the disciplining.

    Much love to B&B

  4. Hubby dear is in B’lore and we are having a weekend relationsip. Emotions are still raw, this is the first week and I’m fighting hard with myself to be patient and firm with the kids. Except that it is taking every ounce of energy that I have.

    Can I come to your corner?

  5. No idea about any of this.
    But one thing MM.. the fact that you are thinking so much about it, will communicate itself to him..and as long as he knows you care, i dont think anything can ever go wrong.

  6. The snowflakes forced me to delurk after a long time, come out and say hello to you. Merry christmas month!!!

    About disciplining the child – well, my hair has started greying (literally) probably due to continuous stress of “hope I am doing the right thing by being firm on certain things”.

    Now I figure this stress (for me) mainly stems from the fact that despite being an adult, being a mother myself, once in a while I find myself blaming my parents for some of my shortcomings. You know there should be an age limit after which one shouldn’t be allowed to hold parents responsible. Like the other day I was trying to blame my lack of organizing skills to heredity!! If parents push the child hard, the child hates the parents. If the parents are too laid back, the child is going to turn back and say “I wish you were more involved”.

    And I think somewhere it worries me that when my kid grows up he too like me will be unreasonable and hold me responsible for whatever’s wrong.

    There has to some cut off when you start being responsible for what you are and not be a function of your upbringing, when you can CHOOSE and BE what you want to be.

    • I guess there SHOULD be a cut off age, but I also realise that a lot of our parenting is sheer reaction to what our parents did. I know I got molested very often because my parents were part of the whole flower power generation and they believed in us growing wild like weeds, going off alone etc. So today, while I dont blame them for what happened, I know I am a lot stricter with my kids as a reaction. So yes, I am one of those kids who says, I wish you were more involved. Theres never a right balance, but i hope the fact that I am thinking this through, will resonate with my kids. that they wont say – Ma, you did it because it was the easy thing to do, not because you thought it was the right thing to do. do you know what i mean?

  7. Children forget and forgive easily when they are little. Now my sons will give me a hurt look and a pout when i scold them but 5 minutes later, all is well again and they are climbing onto my lap.
    I worry about when they hold onto to their hurt feelings for much longer, what will i do then as i cant bear to see them sad 😦
    No solutions here just understanding of what you are going through.

    By the way, your header seems to be releasing confetti like balls all over my screen, is this new and meant to herald the upcoming festive season? 🙂

  8. for obvious reasons i cant tell about three or four year kids.but my mom went through almost the same things i was bad during our teen years.but in the end its all well ,now that i realize what she had to deal i guess this will all look bad for a short time but sort of irons it self

  9. Oh you’ve so hit the nail on the head…in our case, I have always been the disciplinarian, with L as the fun parent – and he worked from home when he wasn’t travelling for the last two years, so the kids really got close to him and enjoyed their time with he works in another city during the week and is home only in the weekends…the juggling of work and the kids’ schedules is bad enough, but now, when I discipline the kids, the guilt is at a whole ‘nother level…K has turned completely defiant with me, and *every* morning is a struggle with multiple meltdowns before school…I can tell you I am at my wits’ end and have no idea how to solve this. What they want is appa at home to do homework duty and kid-schlepping, but he can’t….
    Something that helped a little is to have L do a call with a webcam as many times a week as he can (work schedules being what they are that isn’t possible many times). The kids do seem to calm down when they get that time with their dad – my kids are also old enough to have email accts (monitored), so they email appa a few times a week – I leave those conversations between the kids and their dad (get updates later from L) as we want them to understand that both of us are still in the picture, just not physically in the same location…


  10. As I type this response, my son is kicking my back from behind me. I recently took a competitive exam, and I feel that since he was younger then he just accepted the fact that I study and so was manageable. But in the last month or so, I see him trying to throw the laptop of my lap. This worries me as if I get an admit to a school, I will have to regularly study and I simply cannot have the Munchkin resisting it so strongly.
    Watching this space for some answers.

  11. some back talk, a bit of indiscipline is NECESSARY. it helps the child develop better. and i think parents losing it with them or with each other in front of them now and then is also NECESSARY. you can’t bring them up in a bubble. what should be reinforced time and again is that there are liberties that he/she can take only with the parents/siblings and not anyone else. not even grandparents. i am ok if the kids are a lil badly behaved within the home, as long as they are aware that the behaviour is ‘bad’, that they don’t assume it’s normal. and that they know it won’t be tolerated in company or outside.
    about the colouring bit, when my first was in nursery everything she coloured was colourful, like a rainbow. i would check to see if she is aware of the real colour of the tree/flower/animal etc. as long as she was, i didn’t care if the cow was pinks/purples and yellows.
    a lot of homes are run like an army camp, some others like a carnival. a healthy in between is what we need.

    • yes, I guess in a while they will make that distinction but right now with my house like a dharamshala, its very hard for them to figure out who belongs and who doesnt….

      and yes – its that healthy inbetween I am not sure of.. what is it? 😦

  12. Please please let them run barefoot. Barefooting is healthier than being constantly shod. It is the only way to let them be sensitive to mother earth and also for them to retain an individuality.

    I sense you are going through a low phase, and I recommend you get in touch with a friend of mine.

    Yasho- Nitrthyananda Jyoshtri, is a meditation teacher in Delhi. Her number is 9910047566.

  13. we watched RDB last week. That song always makes me breakdown and sob…because I did lose a son. Sometimes when I feel I’ve gone too numb, I think of the line where the son reassures her that he’s happy in heaven…that does it.

    And MM, I have such a long story to tell you regarding discipline, working from home, and everything else you’ve described. I will email you sometime, or I will let you know whenever I blog about it…we’ve just been through a very very tough time and there are things I want to share with other parents who’re struggling with these issues. Bottom line…firm discipline is very important, and both parents have to be on the same page. The good-bad-cop thing in our case had created total disaster. And as for therapy…it was needed here. I’m not kidding.

    I’m not leaving my name…can’t be open about this stuff now…hope my email add will let you know who I am:)

    • yep .. i know who this is.. and I am so so so sorry to hear that babe… so sorry …

      i’m glad you’ve planned to blog about it. often i stop and consider if something i’ve blogged is too personal … and then i hope that the fact that its going to help someone else, will make my family forgive me. we dont do good cop bad cop too – because i fear disaster, but even then, a travelling father is more lovable than a permanent mother 😦

  14. I am firm with my daughter but its extremely hard for me to let her cry.
    If I take away something and she starts crying, she doesn’t get that thing back but I go to her, cuddle her and tell her gently ‘its okay, mamma had to take it away because you were not listening, u will get it back soon when u finish your milk, finish eating etc’…I can not bear to see her cry for over 2 minutes…
    The husband on the other hand is sometimes really strict. We both manage to get things that we want done (drink milk most of the times) but it takes me double the time.
    I think between the two of us it balances out except our household is looking more and more like the traditional families where fathers only role is to discipline and mom is fun. But its not by choice. Thats who we are as people. When I say No, I hardly budge but she knows that for most things I don’t say No.

  15. That song, alone, is enough to make me bawl. And what with struggling with both S and me working at home… even without kids involved, this really struck a chord :-/

  16. With this one post you have scared me away from being a mom. (too much info but we are ‘trying’ and I am like a headless chicken scared one minute, excited one minute)!
    That said, our parents were tough with us when required and we are ‘fine’…no?

    • nothing is TMI on this blog, dude!! 😀 you should know that by now. have lots of fun trying – its the best part 😉
      And here’s the thing. how did our parents know when it was required?!

  17. MM,

    I have a 9 month old and I lose patience with her. So the guilt is terrible because I know its going to get worse. My husband was away for around 5 weeks a couple of months back and it was very difficult to manage work and home. I can very well understand how tough you have it with 2 kids.

    I think it is ok for them to see us getting angry, frustrated and what not. It makes us ‘real’ and makes them accept us just the way we are.

    No answers really.. just raising a hand to say, I’m there too!

    • true. its something i think but I am not sure of. why shouldnt our kids see the real us? why cant they see us get angry? why cant they learn that when mama is working she should not be disturbed ? and thanks for the heads up – i deleted what you told me to

  18. MM,

    I am an unmarried adult. I do have some scars too, as a teenager – I didnt feel the love while growing up, was hurt and wanted to go far away from parents. Now I realize and I know for sure my parents did a pretty good job. I did hurt & didnt understand then, when they were angry or were tough, but I wouldnt be a better person now!!

    You are doing pretty good. Hope your blog stays alive till I get married and have kids..


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  20. I’m not a mother and possibly will never truly comprehend what you’ve written about. But I just wanted to say that this was truly touching. I think the fact that you think so much about this itself is an indication that you’re being the best parent that you know how to be.

  21. I reach office @ 7:00 AM and leave @ 4:00 PM. Wify goes to office @ 3:00 PM and comes after midnight. So in the morning, she wakes up, feeds and dresses up the kids for school. In evening I pick them up, give bath, help them with homework, feed them (and I mean it literally).. put them to bed (and ask them to read story books). By the time it is 9:30 PM, I am too tired to do anything. Kids don’t like it and neither do we.. but that’s the choice we have made so that the family is better off. Discipline is very important, and the good-cop/bad-cop thing is the worst thing to do. Venting out your anger/frustation in front of them is the best thing to do (according to me). That way, the kids learn about different moods, and they do learn about how one feels (besides just them). I think it makes them wiser… and, trust me on this Beti 🙂 , if you are feeling guilty in the night, that means you are taking good care of them…. it just balances out… as long as you don’t take them to toy/candy shops the next day.

    I can give you tips on small things like jumping on couch/bed etc. later, but learn to be brave and don’t feel too lonely without OA. It has been 1.5 years for me and wify doing this, and at the end everybody has to just tough it out.

    BTW, aapne apni chai to bana li, lekin meri ka kya hua??

    • 🙂 shakkar kitni lenge aap?

      And gosh no – I think I’m the worst mom ever because the damn creatures dont even recognise most of the malls their friends do! So no, no overcompensation for them the next day

      I think the system you have works out wonderfully for your kids – but isn’t it rough on the two of you as a couple?

      • Oh, tell me about it.. sometimes we do not see each other’s face. It is rough on the whole family, but considering the financial requirements (we do spend a lot on our son) and the job situation (Wify works at a hospital and that was the only job opening at that time, this was the best option. Hopefully, she’d get a morning opening, but that would open another can of worms… 🙂

        Overall, as long as the family is really really a FAMILY, these things are minor. You know the usual stuff… communication, dedication, affection…..

        What I have noticed is that kids DO watch everything going around in the house… trick is to use this habit of their’s in a positive way.
        I could go on and on, free mein advice dena meri khaasiyat hei.. lekin ab soo jaao… warna aapko thori der mein bachche kjaga denge

  22. I watched Private Practice yesterday, so Addyson discovers that she hated the wrong parent all these years. Her dad who was out sleeping with every other woman because his wife is a lesbian.

    And it struck me how we sometimes think we hide things from our kids from their own goodBut do we truly know what is or isnt for their own good really?

    I have had long internal dialogues about so many things that its a wonder I am not carted off to some institution someplace.
    I also have started a fund for my kids’s therapies 🙂

    • valid point. how much should we hide? I know I often tell my kids that we cant buy XYZ because we can’t afford it. simple. how broke we are is not their business, but they need to know how far we can be pushed.

  23. Adi is some months away from turning two and yet some days I feel like we are in the middle of it already. Usually a firm no works,but sometimes the tantrums he throws are doozies. And to add to it, K works ridiculous hours and weekends are just not enough. I feel like I have been a single parent for quite some time now and I know how hard that is.I can imagine how tough you have it with 2 kids though I have met the brat and the bean and they have come across as extremely well behaved bacchas. So its ok MM, you have done a great job with them so far and its only going to get better from here. Pakka.

  24. MM,

    Would you be surprised if I had said I was going to ask your help to post an article to seek feedback from your readers about the same topic?

    My wife and I just got back home after a long stint in US and have a 16 month old. Of course, at her age, anything she does is cute, so she isn’t the discussion. My bro’s kids are, 7 and 3. Both, as adorable as they are, push the ‘Spank me’ button at least a few times a day.

    Most replies here discuss mom-dad case. Throw into this mix, a grand father who obviously raised his children almost military style, (now mellowed down immensely), but still goes on ‘scoundrels’, ‘incorrigible’ tirade when the volume goes up higher than number 10, the 5th call to wake the elder one up and any time she picks an electronic item and drops it to the floor…..

    As sons, we are stuck between disciplining our children, work with our wives to not take the above words literally, and then work to mellow the grand dad further. Talk about Mahabharat, it starts at sunrise for us. The only solace it seems its ghar ghar ka mahabharat. Any solutions folks?

    • You know this one is a toughie. Grandparents can err on either side of the spectrum. My parents ruin the kids when they’re around and its hard to be the generation that is sandwiched. Wanting to maintain a fine balance and not disrespect the elders yet not let the youngsters go wild. You have my sympathy for what that is worth.

      Sometimes it helps if an outsider who is close to the elder in the family makes the point. Do you have anyone who can do that for you?

  25. You know, I wouldn’t be too worried if I were you, because with everything you do, how much you care comes through and while it may be the right thing. I’m sure the Brat and the Bean will know that Mamma tried her best for them.

    P.S: I see the falling dandruff is back. 😀

  26. Oh MM, my son is 20 months old and we cry atleast 10 times and then I have one last at bedtime when I realise this has been another day of shouting and losing my temper over someone so tiny and innocent, I am responsible for him, to make his life as beautiful as I can atleast these first few years. I am at a point where I think I might need therapy, I dont know if all moms snap and shout all day, but I swear I am losing my head.

  27. I have been a long time lurker, but this post finally compelled me to delurk since it touched a chord.

    I have a 1 1/2 year old girl and work from home and have a husband who travels a lot. I was telling a friend how I feel like a single mom most of the times and she said this is true of most of us – we are raising our kids almost single handedly through the week and our kids meet their fathers only on the weekends. I know that the husband wants to be more involved but since he travels more than I do and needs to be in office through the day, while I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home with occasional travel – but in the process I am completely worn thin with balancing managing the home, the kid and work and am close to breaking point. In our case, parenthood has unfortunately taken a toll on our relationship and would love to hear how others coped with this significant change in their lives.

    • oh God.. thats my story, babe! You have all my empathy – and of course any answers anyone would like to have.

      i hear you on how its taking a toll on your relationship. The OA and I try to do a lot of stuff together. Well, I do. Men seem to be happy watching TV. But I think he relaxes knowing that I will make the effort. Sometimes its having dinner after they go to bed, with some jazz on the radio and the lights turned low.

      other times its a movie on with popcorn while the kids sleep on our floor!

      but we try… we just keep trying..

  28. Mad Momma, that post just made me reminisce the way my mom and dad raised me and bro. In fact it brought out memories of how at times I used to warm up to my dad more easily than mom. Though dad was just as strict as mom used to be, somehow mom just used to sound that much more (I do not know if harsher is the right word here but I shall stick to it). But then over years I finally have come to realize that everything they did was for our good. Call me even insane but I would do anything to have one such day with my mom arnd me here in USA and shouting at me everyday..:P she doesnt shout much over the phone and I miss it. 😀 So I suppose though you are feeling a bit down about having shouted at the brat, the brat 15-20 years down the line might just reminisce about it in a fond manner. This in a way also puts down a marker to the little one’s saying that there is a limit to everything and the kids cannot always have their way with parents.

  29. I just know this MM – There is no parent in the world who has occasionally (and frequently, on days) lost it and resented it immediately after that. I have done it to my daughter who is in her pre-teens (completed 12 recently) and felt so bad that dinner was ruled out that day and a headache had to be excused so that I could bury my head in a pillow.

    Trust me, it is not only the mothers.

  30. Aww MM! Huggie!

    I think more often than not the soul searching after the discipline is necessary. The heat of that moment is over and now is the time you can really feel with a loving heart and assess what you did and whether it was enough or too much. And that invariably helps in the next round in some way.

    But all said and done, its rough when there’s an absentee parent. Its rough to be a working parent. Its rough to be a parent on most days. So huggie again!

  31. You asked how I deal…its the same as you. Sometimes I am firm with just the right amount of pressure. Many times I snap. And always regret later. And always endure the agony of self-analysis. The cycle goes on, in the hope that one day I’ll get it right. And on some level, we ALL need therapy, even with the best of parents that we had! So cheer up honey!

  32. Its part of growing up. You as a mom and they as children. Cheer up. Kids understand more than we think. Its brats way of showing how he miss his father. He will understand you and loves you more than ever and the Bean will fill up the gang. Its the same story in every house hold. Few more years you and brat will look at this post with a smile on u face.

    (I too went thru same phase)

    Life keeps on changing . You are doing the very best.

    Merry Christmas.

  33. I was telling my mum about this post of yours and asked her if i ever got clingy and refused to let her go. She laughed for a good while before reminding me of the times I hid her shoes or handbag every time I realized she was about to leave the house. I remembered most of it, when I got a little older instead of hiding the bag I would try to negotiate some kind of a deal where she would come back before a certain time and spend time with me. But I also remember how crushed she seemed about leaving and it was not like she enjoyed leaving us at home, so I guess the love shines on through even at times when you think mum is being mean.

    What really got me teared up was this- my mum said she’d rather deal with clingy babies than have her babies so far away from her!

  34. By the way mine has given me hell for two days. And I was mean and caustic. And she gave it back to me, good and proper.

    Worried about scarring them? They are scarring us!

  35. Something thinking, feeling parents go through all the time, especially when they have to handle it alone with one of them away on work. Something all too familiar too because as an Infantry man’s wife, the responsibility of bringing up my kids was all mine.

  36. Amita: How do we cope with a ten month old? We cope by throwing money at the problem. I work from home (completing a phd) and we have an almost full time nanny for our ten month old. The nanny costs us as much as our rent. We pay it because its an investment: although we can’t afford it in the technical sense of the term, it will help me to finish my phd faster and hence get a job faster.

    And on the relationship front ,you just got to work at it, as MM says. Take some time out for yourselves. Make sure that not all your conversation is focused on children. Do things together that you enjoy. Etc. Etc. It helps if you don’t inherently feel much guilt (as I do) about parenting and don’t internalize stupid outside parenting (esp mothering) standards. be a slacker mother. Will work wonders for your peace of mind.

    On the discipline vs flourishing thing, with a ten month old, we don’t yet face that issue. but I would think through why the rule exists. So manners are non-negotiable because it lubricates social relationships and helps them become members in society. But coloring within lines? Sod that! Also using the ‘right’ color. Stupid. And jumping on couches (mine) would be allowed, but not jumping on other people’s couches. And so on and so forth.


  37. Hi MM – Read your post just now. I am a mother of an 8 month old. I always wonder if I have the ability to bring up my kid in a good way and how do we decide on whats best for them. As you said I dream that he becomes ‘not an engineer or a doctor’ but a very understanding and good human being and very helpful to others. I dont want him to get hurt. Unfortunatley due to some unforeseen circumstances he is now in India(from the past 2 months) and we are here in Singapore. We miss him a lot and I feel sooooo GUILTY leaving him there(though my parents look after him very well). Hopefully he will be back here this month but I always wonder what he would think of us once he grows up. Would he be able to understand the situation that we are in right now and forgive us? Or would he think that we are greedy parents? I understand that you are feeling a bit low, and to add to that I am writing to you about my problem. Sorry, just wanted to share this with you. I always read your blog and you are my role model for an “Ideal Mum”.

    • 🙂 thanks Preeti – as for your son – at 8 months he wont even remember this. and i am sure you have good reasons 🙂 i grew up with my nana-nani because my parents were in a place where there were no schools. I totally understand why they had to send me away…. so i’m sure your son will too. hugs!

  38. Oh you wrote exactly what I’m going through. Exactly. Thasswhy I was going on about becoming a sahm on fb 🙂

    That line about clingy babies being better than babies far away did make me teary too. Let’s just try to get through each day one at a time shall we?

    Can’t think of any other solutions!

  39. this post almost made me cry…i face this every single day and die of guilt every single night. And the world thinks i am an impatient mother.. Spent the weekend with both the boys admitted in the hospital for a stomach infection. It was so bad they could not even keep water down their stomach..came back home yesterday..and the older one was driving me up the wall to eat his food..coz it was bland. And what did i do..a firm wack and i told him if he does not eat he will be back in the hospital with tubes all over his body. He did not eat..u know what my state is… Sigh!!! are not alone…

    • oh poor baby – and i mean you! children is hospital is always tougher on the parent. dont worry about the whack – its just a reminder that mummy is not bending just because you’re sick. and in fact is not bending because you’ve just been sick.

  40. sigh! i am maha impatient. i keep trying to keep my calm but dont succeed very often! and even tho Cubby happily says bye every morning, the fact that that he doesnt go to to the nanny over weekends shows he misses us and understands a LOT more than we though a almost 2.5yo would.

    and M insists on playing good cop bad cop and i hate it. add to it he tells me to stay calm WHEN i am hollering at Cubby and i am not sure just WHO i wanna whack at that time? the father or the son?

    i wonder where to find the balance… sigh!

    hugs to you!

    and Cubby is at a stage where he does everything you say brat is doing. two years earlier too! Yikes!!!! 😦

    • LOl! well thats because two years ago I wasnt working so the Brat didnt need to! I guess its the same story everywhere…
      And if you have to choose between father and son, I’d say go for the father. They’re usually worse

  41. Hi MM, you made me delurk with this post. On Friday I made the big mistake of bringing R home with me from daycare and she promised me all the way that she will be quiet when I am in my meeting on the phone and she will take a nap and what not. And then of course I put her in bed, arrange the pillows, put on Barney and do everything for her and then call the dude I am supposed to talk to, and she bursts in a second later crying at the top of her voice – Sigh….she screamed and yelled and the guy I was talking to, had no patience for me and her and wanted to hang up, it was a big mess. Plus I realised today that I forgot to save my file so I lost all his input and cant call Mr.Impatient nasty guy again to tell him about it :(((( Sorry for the long vent…

    Anyways with kids, I also feel very bad when R cries and when my husband gives her timeouts etc..but I feel like we need to step back and look at the bigger picture once in a while and as long as we are teaching them the right things and spending quality time with them and giving them good opportunities and privileges, I think we are being good parents….They will not remember these small incidents later on – they will remember the big things, this is what I feel…Sorry for the long comment..

  42. MM,

    I’m no mommy, but I know that it’s because mine was cruel in order to be kind many times in my youth (I was a handful), that I’m a more bearable person in my erm..22 year old-ness.

    She used to tell me she’d cry when she hit me and once or twice I remember her coming to me and burying her face in my neck and saying sorry to me (and this was after I has broken something after repeated telling-offs or refused to do my Math homework or something).

    And I know of a little boy- my neighbour’s son- who’s around Brat’s age and gets no disciplining from his folks at all. As a result, he’s a brash, spoiled, annoying child whom nobody likes. And though I’m mostly a lurker on this blog, I read every single post and so I know that the Brat is not anything CLOSE to that, and so you must be doing a terrific job.

    I wish I was a mom so I could give more useful advice. But I think I’ve experience of my own, as a kid and as an observer to know that some firm handling is required if you want you child to know what’s ok and what’s not.

    Also, Lukka Chuppi is one of my favourites- but it’s for a sadder memory. My cousin passed away recently, at 21 and I imagine his mum singing this to him and my heart breaks. I still don’t have the courage to listen to it now, though I love the song beyond words.

    The snowfall’s nice 🙂

  43. You’re still doing the ‘Why not to have children’ series? I thought the first dozen or so were quite sufficient, but obviously not 😉

    More seriously, you know I’ve said this before – you get too emotional about this. Yes it hurts to shout at (perhaps smack) a kid, but sometimes that’s the only way. Anybody who says ‘it should never get to the stage where you have to shout’ was brought up on Pluto. The best-behaved child will still someday, at some point, need to be stood up and told off.

    Just like adults. We argue with our family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues, don’t we? Even though they are so much more knowledgeable than kids, there are still times when you need to tell somebody ‘Bugger off and behave’. Kids just need it more often.

    And hey – you think *we* would have turned out so good if our parents hadn’t occasionally whacked us? Certainly not me. I would have been the worst brat on the block.

    Also, hola!

  44. Hi,

    I havnt seen that movie or heard the song, BUT I can identify with this post of yours on so many levels. I want to explain why, but I dont think I could put it very well in words, so Im just going to say this much- My husband is a fighter pilot and we have a 5 month old son.

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