Before baby L was born, I had a clear picture of how I would raise her. I had even envisioned how she would turn out. I was against using the word ‘no’ with her and I cringed inside when someone else took a stern tone with her. Usually, I chastised the disciplinarian. My picture was clear. My child would be free. Elders warned me that I had to set down some rules and I understood that. But for all intents and purposes I wanted L to be free of restraint and that ingrained fear so many of us are raised with. The fear of an adult, of authority, of a deity, of heaven and hell, of the unknown, of being labeled ‘bad’, of being a let-down and so on. It’s shocking how many of us functioning adults still live our lives carrying the burden of various degrees of fear. Of course, I was well aware that she wouldn’t be free her whole life. But my goal was always to let her spread her wings as far as she could to the best of my ability. Within my realm she will be a free spirit. That was my goal. Whether she was a shouter, an introvert, an overly friendly soul, a thinker; as long as she wasn’t hurting anyone, she could be whoever she wanted to be. The rules were set in my mind and I thought I was doing a good job. Until suddenly I found myself saying sorry. A lot.
Now for this to make sense, I need to divulge a little about myself. I say sorry. A lot. That’s because I carry a heavy burden on myself which hasn’t been put on me by anyone else. It’s all my own junk. And I say sorry for ridiculous things. Things that don’t warrant an apology but I fear hurting/inconveniencing/offending the person. If I can’t make it to an appointment because of valid reasons, or if someone holds the door open for a me a bit longer than usual as I push the stroller through, are some inane reasons I’ll be apologetic.
And then I started apologising for L. If she’s too talkative in a class, I make slightly embarrassed faces at the others. If her nose is runny, I rush to wipe it clean before someone calls me negligent or her messy. If she’s quiet and someone notices I rush to make excuses on her behalf. Or if she tries to be friendly, I first make sure everyone around her is comfortable with it. But I am wrong. Very wrong. She is who she is. She is not an extension of me. She is not because of me. So why am I holding her back? Asking her to be ‘gentle’ with other babies when she’s just a baby herself? Rushing to make sure she’s not making anyone uncomfortable when I should rejoice in the fact that she’s bubbly and talkative.
It stops here. I will not come in the way of her being an open, loving, curious personality. I will not stomp on her confidence to handle situations as she deems best. I will teach her not to hurt others. I will teach her to be considerate. I will teach her to respect knowledge but never fear authority. I will tell her that confidence is the key to finding peace. That empathy and kindness can go a long way. I will try to make her realise that her self-worth is something only she can create, nurture and protect. I will try my best to make her as good a person as I know she already is. But I will not say sorry. Never again.