Punctuality has always been a strong quality of mine. I am not trying to flatter myself; it is something that my friends have always joked about growing up. I have always landed up at a friend’s house either at the time specified or maybe 5-10 minutes earlier than scheduled. In today’s world (especially India) of being fashionably late, 4 pm rarely means 4 pm, but actually means approximately 5.30 pm. However for me, 4 pm always meant and still means 4 pm. It runs in my family; most members of my family are the same way, we end up at the airport 3 hours before a domestic flight. You would think that I would change to be in line with everyone else, but I am actually quite proud of this quality as I feel it adds a certain amount of discipline to my life.
I wanted to talk about this because I feel that it has affected most aspects of my life, including of course motherhood.
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When we were pregnant with our first son, as most first-time mothers do, I spent hours and hours on Google, reading articles on baby sleep schedules, feeding routines etc. I wanted to know when the baby would start feeding according to a set schedule so that I could set his routine in place; set a certain time for his morning feed, massage, bath, naps and so on.
Now I am sure many mothers reading this post can relate to what I am about to say. I was a complete Nazi with my first son. The ‘eat whenever, have a bath whenever and nap whenever’ policy never settled with me. I thought that having a set routine with set times meant sticking to them come what may, not realising at the time that the world would not end if the schedule varied here and there by 5-10 minutes. At that point in time, even a 5 minute delay for lunch time or bath time was a catastrophic event. If he went down late for his nap, I would start to get fidgety. I was completely obsessive about his routine and sometimes it got to an unnatural level. The reality was that the delay made no difference to anyone’s life; my son was happy as long as he got his food somewhere around the time normal people eat lunch, and was not made to starve. These kinds of incidents led to many an argument with my support system and my son’s other caretakers, but actually the only person in distress was yours truly. I had become my own worst nightmare. I was a momzilla.
As a first-time mom, any and every small deviation is made to seem like a mammoth issue. I personally feel most first-time moms are wound up tight, and I was leading the pack. Over a period of time, I became more flexible and learnt to take things in my stride. In hindsight, after my second one has arrived, I keep wondering why I had made my life more stressful than it needed to be. I realised being a stickler for routine was one thing, but being an unreasonable stickler for routine was completely different altogether. I guess that is why practice makes perfect (although I don’t think ‘perfect’ can be applied to anything when it comes to motherhood).
With my second son, I am now just the opposite. Yes, as a mother, I am still a little OCD with many things, but toned down by many levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the following:
There is no such thing becoming a pro at motherhood. It is a learning process and as we go along, we learn what matters and what doesn’t. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger right?
Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. If they are starving or sleepy, they always find ways to let us know. So there is really no point in being a Nazi with their routines.
Routines and schedules are meant to give your child structure and stability. They make happy children; they know that they are going to be fed, bathed and put to bed, come what may. If the routine is thrown off for a few days for whatever reason, life goes on.
We set examples for our children. They are sponges and observe their mothers like hawks. If they observe us being rigid and not adaptable to certain things, they will imbibe those qualities as well. I know I want my children to learn and understand that everything may not always go their way or according to their speed. But at the end of the day, things will get done and you move on.