It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens, shapes and empowers our life.
As I hit the snooze button on my mobile, I saw the time, 6:30am. I stretched my arms each muscle in my body ached. The pain was unbearable. I decided to relax for 10 more minutes, but by the time I opened my eyes, it was 8:30am. I saw my daughter sleeping peacefully next to me. My body was burning and the digital thermometer read 101 degree. Surely not a great start of the day, when your- 8 year old has her monthly tests scheduled.
It was already past 10am when we sat to study. She had two tests today, English Grammar and Geography. I was worried about Geography. As I asked her questions, she started fidgeting with her pencil, kept staring at the wall, trying to recollect the answers. I was losing my cool, but I tried not to show it.
Yesterday evening I went out to meet a friend to discuss about our upcoming creative writing and storytelling workshops. I asked my daughter to finish her studies by herself and she confessed that she hadn’t read the chapters.
I asked her to read the chapter while I read a book. After 30 minutes, I asked her the same questions and she gave me the same blank look. That one moment I lost it…completely. I pulled her closer and hit her, not once or twice but at least 5 times. As I type this, my fingers are numb and I am unable to type any further, but I want to share this here on my blog.
She stared at me for few moments and later started crying and the next 30 minutes I was just yelling at her, saying things like, “How can you be so irresponsible? You are in 3rd Grade not a kindergarten student. You never obey me.”
She kept crying and that’s when I realized we were late for school. We wasted two hours in all this drama and didn’t revise the two chapters. She packed her bags hurriedly as I struggled to tie her hair. We couldn’t find her handkerchief and eraser. We both walked in silence and when we reached the school gate, I mumbled, “All the best.”
As if she sensed the guilt in my eyes, she hugged me and said, “Its okay Mumma, we both behaved badly.”
That moment, it hit me hard. How foolish was I to behave so irresponsibly. Yes she was in 3rd grade and she was behaving her age, but was I behaving like a 31 year old . I wanted her to obey my orders, why? Because I was her mom or because I felt I had an authority over her.
I stood there for few moments as she turned back and gave a beautiful smile. I wondered what she thought of me and my behaviour.
Anger is labelled as a negative emotion, but I feel that there is an underlying message that anger conveys. If we pay close attention to how we behave when we are angry, especially at the thoughts that run in our mind, we can have better control over anger. I kept playing the entire scene in my mind while coming home and I realized that I wasn’t angry at my daughter not studying, but I was angry that she didn’t obey me. I saw images of my daughter not obeying me in the future, failing in her exams and heard voices of my in-laws telling , ‘How poorly I have raised my daughter’, ‘How I have failed as a mother’ and these images and voices were making me feel miserable and I vented all this out on my 8 year old.
Many of you may wonder how so many thoughts could run in anybody’s mind, in just few seconds. The truth is our mind processes thoughts in images, voices and feelings. Our external response to any situation begins with an internal thought process. We might say, “My child’s behaviour made me angry”, however in reality, when your child behaves in a particular way, there are some internal thought processes happening in a fraction of a second and we respond immediately to that.
In my case, I could have easily said, “I hit my daughter because she didn’t study”, however when I delve deeper into my internal thoughts, the images I saw and the voices that I heard, made me agitated and my external response was hitting her. All this happens so quickly that we may feel it’s a challenge to control our thoughts, but if we pay a little more attention to our thoughts, the bodily sensations, the images that we see and the voices that we hear, we will observe that we can control any emotion, easily and effectively. Now as you continue to read this line, there is a certain way your body feels, there is a certain voice in which you are reading the sentence and maybe an image popped up in some corner of your mind.
If like me, you too have faced such a situation, I urge you to replay that event in your mind and observe some of the internal thoughts that made you respond in that way. I would be glad to read your observations and tips on how do you handle your emotions while dealing with your children.
PS: My daughter returned home as if nothing happened and kept telling me how easy Geography paper was. She hugged me and said, “Let’s eat chocolate and celebrate.”