Just who is Raising whom Here?

I don’t know about you all, but I am half loosing my mind and half finding myself at the same time. You know what I mean? It’s as if this bomb exploded from within me releasing all sorts of emotions and feelings, all of which I am still struggling to cope with. To top it off, it is happening with all the time in the world to reflect upon it. I know you, too, are individually going through all sorts of internal tribulations and new routines of this new way of life. From what new Netflix show to start next to what TikTok video to upload out of boredom; from what snacks to munch on today to which room to switch to for a sense of “a different scenery.” From creating personal disciplines with this time in our hands to allowing ourselves to take a break that we may have never had the luxury to do so—if it can even be called that: a luxury. Yes, our lives have changed drastically.

For some of us our jobs have drastically reduced in traffic, for some it has come to a complete stand still, and for others surprisingly and fortunately it has opened up doors of which we would have never fathomed we would find ourselves in. And for most of us, the hardest challenge—in my personal opinion—is our newfound relationships with our children, and even so with our spouses.

I don’t know about you, but I am just finding out what kind of parent I am; I mean, really finding out what kind of mother I am to my children. My first son almost 4 years old and my second son just 4 months now, I can’t even imagine what you parents of grown kids and teenagers are going through. I am loosing my mind! Yes, I had to say it again because only now am I realizing the real work that needs to be put into my child’s upbringing, now that school is out. I would have never believed I’d say, “I miss school.”

We make the mistake of thinking we are raising our children when in fact they are raising us to be their best parents. We’d like to think we are setting disciplinary techniques for the overall health of the family’s relationship when in fact they are getting us to discipline ourselves into conscious parenting. We think we are grooming our little children individuals into kind, good-hearted, and well-behaved kids when in fact they are the ones grooming us to commit to hold those values of which we wish to instill in them. That is this pandemic’s harsh reality to me—the reality that as a parent, now you have the time to step back and see yourself from the outside in, to see what kind of parent you really are.

Back when we were living our normal lives in times of stress and the daily strain of being an adult—in the adult world, doing adult things—you’d come home and go into your children’s worlds. That was our norm and if you were like me you deal with what you can as best as possible, leaving the rest up to the teachers and the babysitters. Our children’s worlds are made up of simple pleasures with complications not allowed. Now we are faced with maintaining this sense of normality in a new form.

The pandemic has forced me to investigate my methods of raising my children. It has shown me my weakness along with the credit I must give myself for my strengths as a parent. Yep, I said strength, because it requires so much of it from us as parents in this particular situation we find ourselves in. And how can I forget patience, for which I know we are being tested on, too, as parents especially now? It has forcibly sat me down with myself to ponder and to navigate through my feelings of frustrations and self-revelations. I consciously watch how I am talking to my child, how I am reacting to his tantrums, how I am handling my personal fatigue of this newfound mother-parent role.

I am becoming one with myself as a mother and I am loving it, surprised by it and even sometimes disappointed with it, all rolled up in one bundle of feelings. I have found that respecting my shortcomings makes me a better, conscious parent. I have found that allowing myself to vent over some of my frustrations takes me back to a calmer me. I have found that opening up to other parents facing the same challenges has brought me peace of mind in this new reality. I have found out that as a couple my husband and I are learning new things about ourselves as parents and as individuals. I have also found out that I must accept the fact that this is not going to get easier. If anything, it will become harder in the universe’s way to teach us a new way of life, a new perspective on what we think it means to raise our children.

In all my internal fights to maintain my cool when our son refuses to sit still and do his ABC’s along with our newborn requiring me to breastfeed and such along with so many other scenarios of our new reality are new levels of discipline I find myself creating for myself. When I think it is right for me to raise my voice to my child, I hold myself back and think, “He is in this, too, though; I need to understand that.” When I can’t get him to maintain that schedule we once had when life was as it once was, I want to get angry at him but then again I have to pause and think, “Wait a second, he is after all being held prisoner with me in the house for this quarantine, too.” And then I think to myself when it really comes down to it, “Just who is raising who here?”

Written by: Marthe Nzokou Giday