I feel like the world’s worst parent. Like all other parents, we try to bring up our daughter in what we think is a loving environment. What is good for her? How do we ensure that she grows up into a confident, happy and healthy woman? We want the best for her but how can we give her that if we screw up so often?
As I sat in the train earlier today, trying various ways to quieten my screaming baby, I felt like the world’s worst parent. I had explained to her that the train would be crowded and I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed her. I made her say “okay” but clearly it wasn’t. She screamed and fussed, she took off her shoes and threw them down, she wriggled and kicked the lady in the next seat before I could grab and fold her legs up. Then she cried, piteously, all the way to our destination. I tried distraction, cuddling, speaking lovingly in her ears, holding her tight, everything I could think of. I even gently chided her for misbehaving when we had already had the discussion about breastfeeding on a crowded train. Nothing was working. Nothing was good enough to compensate her need of the moment. We were both upset. So were people in the compartment who had to put up with a stranger’s bawling baby at the end of a long work day.
I think, after a point, she just couldn’t understand or manage her feelings anymore and that upset her further. I felt like a failure. How could I not comfort my baby? What could I do to discipline her? I wasn’t even sure if I should do one or the other. I didn’t have an idea how to do either anyway. So, I kept talking to her, kissing her and looking out the window, to see if we were there yet.
I thought back to the number of times she had been fussy and chucked a tantrum in the last couple of weeks. She has been demanding and throwing fits frequently. We have been giving in. Sometimes, we make a half-hearted effort to discipline her but it fails and we give in anyway. Dealing with toddler tantrums is so much like toilet training. If you miss a day or take the focus off for a bit, you have to start all over again! We have been preoccupied and, as we get a sneak peek of what the terrible twos will be like, we realize the price we are paying for looking away for a moment.
We came home and fed to her heart’s content. We cuddled. She cuddled with her dada. She spoke with her grandparents. In the end, she was happy. I am still reeling under those feelings. What should I do to help her? How do I deal with this gently but firmly? As I write this and ponder, I feel so ill-equipped to be a mother.