A Mother’s Regret

It’s the paradox that all parents are faced with. The time when our kids are young, is also the time when we are just setting up home, establishing our careers, getting a grip on our adult responsibilities.

A Mother’s Regret - Kids Grow Up So Fast - Mommy And Kids

Between the constant juggling that household chores, career and social responsibilities demand, time slips by. And before we know it, our kids are grown up! Raised by doting grandparents, if we are lucky! Or in the company of maids and other hired help.

I had my two kids, back to back. K, my younger one is just Nineteen months younger than his sister M. The first three years of their lives together are a blur! The details lost in the endless stream of dirty bottles and soiled diapers.  I remember, my predominant thought from that time was of getting away! Getting away from the seemingly endless cries to be fed, burped, cleaned or put to bed. And even from their cute but incessant, high pitched childish prattle.  I craved for silence. For a day, an hour, even a few minutes!  I wasn’t a bad Mom! Just a harassed mom!

My best friend, those days was also a working mom. We shared notes about our sleep deprived lives. Bemoaning the endless list of tasks we faced each morning. It also upset us that we had very little time or energy left to concentrate on our hard earned careers.  We looked forward to the time when the kids would grow up and we could ‘reclaim’ our normal lives.

The friend’s son has now come to class five. This month he leaves home to join a prestigious residential school. She will finally have more ‘her’ time. More time to spend on her work and leisure!  But instead of rejoicing she can’t stop crying. I understand her sorrow completely. The thought that I will be in her place, seeing off my own little girl next year, fills me with dread. And, a sense of regret!  Here are a few words (Not really a poem!) that express my thoughts.

My little girl
All ready to fly
Now that it’s time to let go
I wonder why?
Why I didn’t!
Spend more time
Playing with dolls, composing silly rhymes,
Sipping tea from little cups
Pretend playing and dressing up?
Why didn’t I sit for more hours?
With her head on my laps, mindless of my chores
Playing childish games
Like “Peek a Boo “and “Guess that name”
Visiting her favorite “tickling monster “
Making funny faces, to hear her roar with laughter
Did I really get enough?
Bubble baths and cook ups
Neighbourhood treks and sand play
Hopping races and modeling clay
Sunday picnics, long evenings in the park
Surprise treats and heart to hearts
Why we didn’t finger paint more often
Or just lie in bed and have more fun
I wish when I still had the time
I’d scolded lesser and praised her more,
Corrected lesser and encouraged more,
Punished lesser and sympathised more
Scheduled lesser and indulged more
Why was I in such a hurry?
For her to read her own night time story
To feed herself
Choose her own dress
Get herself ready
Make her own decisions
Always in rush to make her independent!
Now I miss the times she looked for me
Seeking me out for every thing
To fix a button or tie a lace
Make her hair or wipe her face
Why did I waste all those precious hours?
Getting angry, disciplining her hard
And that incessant chatter
That wouldn’t stop
Why didn’t I listen to it with all my heart?
Cause fulfilling my other responsibilities
All my life I can spend
But my little girl
won’t come back now
Her childhood has come to an end.

How were you placed time-wise when your children were young? Did you feel like you had enough time to enjoy their childhood with them? What would you do differently if the clock was turned back and your children were babies once again? This forum is about sharing and I would love to hear about your experiences.

A mom of two, Sapna is a business woman, an avid book lover, a stand in decorator for her restaurants, a movie buff, a social worker by training and a “change maker” by choice. A dreamer, like her name suggests, she says she is dangerously sentimental and an idealist at heart. Married to her childhood sweetheart she lives in a small city in Rajasthan with her kids Maya 8 yrs. and Kabir 7 yrs. She started blogging a year back and uses her blog  justanotherwakeupcall to make new friends and connect with people.

 

  • Valuable insights on what mothers do not share. A point of caution though – with kids getting smarter by the day, they pick up the feeling of “regret” and before you know they will convert it to “guilt”.
    I tell those who approach me for advice, “your regret is based on your awareness now. what you did was justified by situation back then (1,2 or 3 yr ago). Your antenna was so powerful those days. No regrets! No Guilt”
    Other way of helping mothers who feel regret guilt strongly – Medical negligence is divided into Acts of Omission (you did not do what an mother would do) & Acts of Commission (you did something that NO mother in right frame of mind do) and ask them to classify their point of regret – in almost all cases it is the former. I tell them “Ignorance is not a crime; it is bliss”. Enjoy the ‘bliss’ of being a mother.

  • PLEASE READ THIS (Typos corrected)
    Valuable insights on what mothers do not share. A point of caution though – with kids getting smarter by the day, they pick up the feeling of “regret” and before you know they will convert it to “guilt”.

    I tell those who approach me for advice, “your regret is based on your awareness now. what you did was justified by situation back then (1,2 or 3 yr ago). Your antenna was NOT so powerful those days. No regrets! No Guilt”

    Other way of helping mothers who feel regret /guilt strongly – Medical negligence is divided into Acts of Omission (you did not do what an average mother would do) & Acts of Commission (you did something that NO mother in right frame of mind would do) and ask them to classify their point of regret – in almost all cases it is the former. I tell them “Ignorance is not a crime; it is bliss”. Enjoy the ‘bliss’ of being a mother.

  • Those are wise words Dr. Chander. I agree that most of the stuff that moms feel guilty for are acts of omission. I also agree that kids today are very smart and pick up on a parents mood and almost read their thoughts. But that is precisely why I would share this with my kids. I think my daughter who is eight ought to know that I would rather have spent more fun time with her. She is smart enough to understand that I couldn’t due to all the work pressures. And kids are remarkably sympathetic to human failings.

    I think kids are very intelligent emotionally. They intuitively understand feelings and intentions. I believe in speaking with my children and sharing my thoughts and feelings with them as far as possible. They have never used it to make me feel guilty or sorry but have always been very understanding. Maybe I am just plain lucky! Thanks for your valuable insight Dr Chander.

  • My son will be turning five this year in August and I really feel guilty when I am not able to spend much time with him. But he is smart enough and whenever he goes to his nanu-naani place he doesn’ t let me go out of his sight. Why? Because when you are in Delhi you are busy with office and household work but here you have enough time to play with me and be with me. I was really touched.

    • Sapna – Just another wake up call

      Swati, no amount of time spent with children is ever enough. They grow and change so quickly that one is always left wishing for more! Your son’s smart,. He understands your schedule and knows when he can take out more time with you 🙂 Hand over the reins to him and enjoy the ride!!!

  • Muneera Mohammed Ali

    Really interesting piece about the woes of young mothers. I became one at the age of nineteen and another boy at twenty. After only one year to adjust to having a husband and becoming a daughter in law, I was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a mom so soon. But I made it!

    I overcame epilepsy, trained to be a good homemaker and a good parent. I was there to prepare my kids’ tiffin and play with them before putting them to bed. I gardened and still bake with them. But now they are twelve and eleven respectively. And I still feel as if I’ve missed out on their childhood. Mostly because I see them growing up so fast. Soon their voices will lose their childish note and they will become more withdrawn. And I wonder, “Am I ready for their adolescence?”. Am I ready to let them fly? They used to be so adorable when as toddlers! I really miss that age. But life has to go on.

    What I want to tell mothers is that we’ll always feel nostalgic for those early days of our children’s childhood. It was a time definitely worth cherishing. That doesn’t mean this age isn’t special too. I feel so proud when I see my sons make sensible decisions on their own. My advice to all moms is to savour each moment of your children’s life.

    • Sapna – Just another wake up call

      Very true maneera, every age is special and to be cherished. Transitioning from one to the other is always challenging and yes looking back is nostalgic 🙂

  • Oh My God, that poem is so touching and beautiful. I am not a mother but I totally identify with your feelings

    • Sapna – Just another wake up call

      thanks zeenal! So nice of you to visit me here 🙂

  • M Fleming

    What a lovely poem although it made me feel guilty. I too would love to turn back the clock and enjoy my daughters (who are now 14 and 15) more rather than rushing around trying to catch up with housework and work etc. I once asked my friend whose daughters are in their 20s if she wished that they were children again and her reply was ‘not really as they haven’t been this age before either’. So I think we need to stop the guilt and be glad that we still have sons and daughters that we can watch growing up.