parenting

How My Son Taught Me To Be A Better Mother

Happy Mothers Day Vidya Sury

I was 34 when I became a mother. I’ve always loved children—still do—and have been voted the go-to babysitter of choice wherever I lived. However, all this did not prepare me for motherhood. Oh, of course I try being a good one, and learn something new every day, both from my Mom and my son. I am blessed with a wonderful relationship with both.

It is said that bringing up children is a challenge for parents and that’s true. But it is equally challenging for children to bring up parents.

Questions like,

“Do you cry when you are sad?”

“Do you make mistakes?”

…made me feel like I had a halo around my head. Seriously. And of course, questions like this when he was a three year old,

Ravana had ten heads. Did he have ten bums? Did he need ten potties at a time?”

…made me laugh out loud.

I believe that my inspiration to be a good mother came not only from my own Mother, but also from my son, and I consider myself really lucky that my son knew her for twelve years. I wish she were here.

I’d like to share some treasured memories that double up as inspiration to be a better Mom.

Moments I always cherish

  • When he asked me if I would be his best friend
  • When he sends me greeting cards for every occasion to celebrate
  • When he writes me beautiful poems in at least three languages
  • When he argues with me, holding on steadfastly, without giving in
  • When he appreciates every little thing
  • When he hugs me back as a “thank you” for everything

So here goes!

Just four of the zillion ways my son taught me to be a better Mother.

Keeping the faith

This is a fond memory from my son’s first year of school.  He was five-ish. They had a number of activities, one of which encouraged them to talk on a given topic. On this particular occasion, it was “My Mother”

When I went to pick him up from school, his teacher made him repeat what he had said, and standing just so, looking at me in that loving way only he can, he said “My Mother is very kind. She loves me very much. She never scolds me in front of anyone. She always talks to me nicely. She laughs a lot and I love her. She is my best friend”.

Of course my heart swelled with happiness.

And while I do exert my authority on occasion, at that moment, I immediately secretly pledged that I would never scold him or make him feel bad in the presence of others.  This makes a huge difference to a child’s self-esteem and helps to build trust and an open relationship.

Out of the mouths of babes

At around the same time, just like every other Mom, I would get all worked up about what to pack in his lunchbox every day, Monday through Friday. They had two breaks, one lunch break and a mini-break. School started at 7.15 a.m., which meant being ready to leave at 7 a.m.

Being a list-person, I made lists of all possible options before asking him what he would like to carry in his box the next day. Of course, I quickly realized this was not the best way to go about it. Children have exotic ideas—“I want a tiger for a pet”—“I want to live in the Zoo”.  So not happening!

So anyway, back to the lunchbox topic. As I freaked out over how to deal with it, my son came up with a brilliant idea. He said, “Mummy, why not make a time-table for lunch boxes like the school time-table?”

Oh, I was so grateful! Why had I not thought about that?

What followed was a lot of fun, planning meals and options. I still remember the sight of him sitting with his pad and pencil, after drawing a time-table grid, and writing down small break, big break, and then filling the calendar. That, perhaps, was also my first glimpse into what an organized and systematic mind he had—about the things he cared about. Never mind that I am wary about opening his closet for fear of an avalanche hitting me, ha, ha!

The direct benefit for me was: a hassle-free morning, confident about what I had to do, and great time-management.

Best part? We followed this until he finished school two years ago.

Joy is in the routine  

By the time my son was six, I realized he was also a fan of habit. Put him on a specific routine, and he would stick to it diligently.  From his first day of school, he followed a routine: return from school, bathe, have a snack/lunch, do his homework, mark his calendar-planner on the wall about forthcoming important school events/projects, play, pray, have dinner, read, get his bag, shoes, etc ready for the next day, then go to bed.

You’d laugh if I said that he followed this diligently until he finished school two years ago.

That habit of his sticking to a routine kept me saner than I could ever imagine being on my own. He took care of his bag, his schedule, his homework. It was a rare day when I supervised his school stuff—and only when he had to buy something for a project. Yes, his projects were slightly wobbly and looked very homemade, but that helped him learn to manage his stuff even if it didn’t compare favourably with other parent-made stuff produced by some of the kids. Oh, my boy loves home-made even today! Because it is fun, and because lots of learning points!

Presence matters

I’d be crazy to say that presents don’t matter—of course they do. I’d look very disbelievingly at that parent who said they never bribed their kid! I definitely did—I called it bartering/trading. This for that. And I took care that the “that” or “this” were healthy, reasonable things—as in cultivating a new good habit, or eating something he normally preferred not to. And yes, my son does believe that happiness is a pizza with a lot of cheese, among other things.

So there was this point when he struggled with a weight issue. There was games at school, yet that wasn’t enough. He was fit enough, and could run up five floors easily, but he suffered from wheezing until he was 12, and was on inhalers.  We had to build his immunity.

Then later, I came to know from school that our man was happier playing chess than football. He looks like an athlete, but had to lose some weight.

We had a talk—a round table conference—and made a—you guessed it—a list with an action plan. The list included eating more salad and fruits, less processed and packaged. It would have been great to go for a walk in the morning, but that was ruled out since I had to be up at 5 a.m. and get started with preparing breakfast and lunch and packing it in time to be out at 7 a.m.

So we decided to walk at 5.30 p.m. in the evening. We’d either walk on our terrace, which is quite large, or go to a walking rink nearby. We’d start with warming up exercises, then walk, then cool down with some moves.  We enjoyed this time together every day. After 45 minutes of this, we hung around for another 15 to chat about our day before getting back home.

I must say, I was often amazed at what our son shared with us during this time out of the house, and in a relaxed setting! It was one of my favorite parts of the day—fitness combined with bonding, understanding one another better. I loved how he wanted to know about our day and listened. “What are you working on now, Mummy/Daddy?”

Still does. Every day!

When he’s home now during college breaks, we continue to do this and I love it. Oh yes, we also fantasize over the shapes of the clouds in the summer skies and get excited when we see the parrots streak past above us, mindful of the kites gliding around, watching.

The most important things with being a Mom are communication, listening, empathy, and flexibility. This helps deal with almost any situation.

Nobody’s perfect. And I believe that nobody has to be.

Also, it is important to be realistic with expectations as this can eliminate most rough spots.

And sometimes, when expectations are reasonable, there’s no harm in living up to them, is there?

I celebrate Mother’s Day every day, by honoring my Mother and by being one to the most wonderful son in the world. Just as my Mom shaped me into who I am today, my son has, too, showing me a whole new world through his eyes. I am grateful to him for the refreshing, and sometimes, unusual view, the laughter and joy he continues to bring into my life.

Yep! Happy Mother’s Day!

I meant to publish this post in the morning, but got swept away with various things, then went out with my favorite folks on a movie-binge at INOX. A lovely day!

There is no way to be a perfect mother…but a million ways to be a good one.

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Carol Graham
    May 15, 2017 at 12:31 am

    I agree — we learn so much from our children and sons……well, they are the best. I am grieving today for my son who has been estranged for 5 years.

  • Reply
    Rachna
    May 15, 2017 at 7:57 am

    We constantly learn from our children to be better people and from our parents to be better parents. I loved that kindness compliment by Vidur. Often we think that children don’t notice but they do, every single word and gesture. That is why parenting is always ongoing. Happy Mother’s Day, Vidya. So glad that you had a lovely day yesterday.

  • Reply
    Vishal Kataria
    May 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

    How come I never thought whether Ravana had 10 bums?

    This is such a heartwarming post Vidya. Such a fresh perspective rather than hearing and reading complaints from parents about their children. It’s amazing how you involve him in the decision-making process for every aspect related to him, and heed his words. I’m sure he’ll grow up to be a responsible and emotionally sound human being.

    Your attitude of gratitude is also abundantly visible in this post. You’re lucky to have a son like him, but he’s also lucky to have a mom like you.

  • Reply
    Shantala
    May 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

    You have one amazing son, Vidya, but you know that. I love how organized and methodical he is, especially because I am a fellow list-lover too.

    And you are right. I try and ensure to not scold my little one in public, as these little things do matter. Though of-course there are times when I slip, especially when he is having a very public meltdown and will not listen to reason, rather, will not listen, period. But I do my best, as that is all I can do.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you dear Shantala! Lists rock, no? I am thrilled to learn you love ’em too! Doing your best is the best thing to do! After all, last time I noticed, Moms are humans, too 😛 Hugs! Happy Mother’s Day to you. With all that you do, I think you rock!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…5 creative ways to honor and memorialize your loved onesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Vishal Bheeroo
    May 15, 2017 at 10:57 am

    I can see that you have imbibed qualities of love and kindness. Enjoyed reading the anecdotes that made me smile, the letter in school was so touching or wanting a tiger plus Ravana’s head. Belated Mother’s Day, Vidya:)

  • Reply
    Sreesha
    May 15, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Some of your posts, like this one, fill my heart to the brim, and I forget my words. Having been someone fairly clueless about babies, to becoming the mother of someone who constantly surprises me, I completely agree that there’s so much we can learn from our kids. Hugs, V! <3 Happy Mother's Day 🙂
    Sreesha recently posted…The Haunting of the Opium DenMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Hugs! Children are magic. Did you know there’s a traditional belief that kids under five are incarnations of Krishna? Be that as it may…they’re adorable and can get away with anything! I am guessing you are a fun mother–which is the best kind! Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Zap That ZwodderMy Profile

      • Reply
        Sreesha
        May 16, 2017 at 10:41 am

        That reminds me, kinda like how Krishna used to steal butter, my son (until the age of three) would sneak into the kitchen to steal onions!
        Also, after the discussion we had the other day, and also taking tips from your son, I’m gonna plan out a chart for lunch too 😀 😀
        Sreesha recently posted…The Haunting of the Opium DenMy Profile

        • Reply
          Vidya Sury
          May 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

          Good! Make one for you, too! With lists of possible options and prep time, so it is easy to choose. Hugs!
          Though, what did your son do with the onions? 🙂
          Vidya Sury recently posted…How My Son Taught Me To Be A Better MotherMy Profile

          • Sreesha
            May 17, 2017 at 10:50 am

            LOL, hide in a corner and eat them 😛 Later on it was tomatoes, but he didn’t like them as much as the onions!

          • Vidya Sury
            May 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

            Eat the onions! Gosh. You have a superman in the making. Does he still love onions?

  • Reply
    Soumya
    May 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    If I ever have children, you are going to be their Godmother. Without a doubt.

  • Reply
    Sid
    May 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Firstly, you went for a movie binge and didn’t call me? 🙁

    That aside, I second, third and gazillion times agree with the babysitter of choice statement. Rishi is living proof of the same 😉

    Having met Vidur for a few times now, I can connect to a lot of the things you say about him and he’s a gentleman. And yes, that ‘friend’ statement – he’s definitely been brought up well and helps you be the best person you are.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Awww, Sid! Apologies about the movie binge – one of my baby-gals got passes for the Australian Film Festival at Mantri Mall. The two we saw were Lion and The Sapphires–enjoyed both tremendously!

      Thank you for your kind words! Hugs! Next movie, we go together! What say?
      Vidya Sury recently posted…How My Son Taught Me To Be A Better MotherMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rajlakshmi
    May 15, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I loved reading about how you spent time with your son in the evenings. It reminded me of my childhood as we used to do the same. His idea for lunch is actually pretty cool. I really need that kind of planning for my office.
    Thank you for sharing with us all those beautiful moments from your life. 😀

  • Reply
    Birgit
    May 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    You know, I never thought of it u til you wrote it here but my mom never scolded me in front of people. She may have told us to sit and be still..and we knew better than to defy that but she never did scold us with words. She would talk later or she would take us into another room and then …let us have it…hahahaaaa. No, not that bad. She did spank us but it was rare…and we deserved it. We could openly talk about our day and when I closed up due to bullying she was there and knew something was wrong. This is whe. She pleaded for me to talk and she is one reason I am here today. I see my mom, actually just yesterday, but I miss her but I treasure the moment when I hug her and lean to her and she leans into me and we touch our heads together…sounds funny but we do that…..I’m glad I can do this

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 15, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Birgit, I know exactly what you mean. I loved hugging and leaning into my Mom, too, and touch my forehead with hers. That sense of completeness/love is special. Oh, I scolded my son and my Mom scolded me too, but never in front of others. Hugs to you!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…How My Son Taught Me To Be A Better MotherMy Profile

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    May 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I shared your lovely spirit, uplifting blog and family stories, with my awesome hairdresser today. I’m blessed by your kindred souls. Be well, all you and yours!

  • Reply
    J.H. Moncrieff
    May 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Happy belated Mother’s Day, Vidya. You sound like a wonderful mom, and wow! Does your son ever seem exceptional–I’ve never heard of a child being that organized and self-motivating at such a young age.

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories with us, and thanks so much for your support with my Thunderclap! You’re a lovely person. <3

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Hey JHM! Great to see you again! 😉 I like to focus on my son’s good points, especially his self-motivation. The pressure he puts on himself is more than enough. I always pray that he channels it productively! He’s amazing with all the stuff he cares about. Adding his clothes to the laundry hamper…not so much. But hey, he manages his life on campus, for which I am grateful.

      So glad we’re connected, you know!
      As for supporting you…it is less than the least I can do. <3
      Vidya Sury recently posted…What Really Matters #GratitudeCircleMy Profile

  • Reply
    Olga Parker
    May 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for a lovely story! Kids are more clever than we think, I love to communicate with my kids and other ones. The main things they teach us about are sincerity and cheerfulness!
    Olga Parker recently posted…6 Incredible and Simple Magic Tricks that Amaze Your KidMy Profile

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    May 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    **When he writes me beautiful poems in at least three languages**

    AMAaaaaaaaaaaaaaZING.

    Love you more than chocolate cake w/ sprinkles. x

  • Reply
    Asha
    May 20, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Happy mother’s day to you Vidya ! A mother and a child share such a unique bond , something that is the most unconditional form of love. I had written a post long time back called The Juvenile Pedagogue. Your post reminded me of mine. Do check out if you find time.

  • Reply
    sruthi
    May 27, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Very good post.

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