miércoles, 1 de julio de 2015

The World's Toughest Job

When I was thirty-two I told one of my best friends that I was ready to be a mother. Now I believe I was born to be one. She was surprised, like many other friends I'd had for years, some since we were kids. This made me think that some of my friends didn't really know me. My own mother has always known I'm one of those rare people who really understand children. I had travelled, I had fallen in and out of love, I had worked many different jobs, and I had written a couple of books. I was still doing all those things, but I had a husband and he said he was also ready to procreate. My friend told me she didn't think I was fit for the job. She said I was too much of a free spirit. To be a parent you must make sacrifices, and she didn't think I would.

She was right. I haven't made a single sacrifice. From the moment I conceived my first child, everything I've done for them was because I wanted to. Yet, I think I am fit for the job. It's the best one I've ever had. It is tough and it is challenging, but it is also the most rewarding. Previously, when working for someone, I grew bored when the job became repetitive and unchallenging. I never lasted in the same one for more than a couple of years. With my present job, that is never going to happen, of course. Even if I wanted out, it's too late now; I'll be stuck in it until death do us part. I'm grateful for that, but before I made the decision I thought long and hard about it. And I made the right decision.

I think I'm good for the job because I like and respect children, and not just my own. Children have always fascinated me, mainly because of their honesty, their lack of social bullshit. To be a good parent, I think you do have to like them. Those people who never liked children until they had their own shouldn't have had them, in my opinion.

I've always considered myself a scientist (and many other things!) in the sense that I observe and systematically study what I'm interested in. I also experiment, always making sure that I'm not hurting the subjects I'm studying, or being intrusive. If I make mistakes, or I hurt them in any way, it is unintentional. Luckily, my subjects let me know if I do! I like to study children. I became interested in child psychology in my teenage years, so I later took courses in university and have never stopped studying on my own.

Being a mother-scientist is an ever changing job. When I think I've got it all sorted, something new happens that throws me off balance. As they grow, my boys are getting more independent and needing less of me. I look back and I'm certain that the first few years were the hardest. As they expand their horizons it gets easier. But this also poses challenges. I have to keep looking into myself to do my job well. Being a mother has made me into a better person. Because I think that the best way to educate is by example, I'm always trying to do my best. The children are constantly watching me, so I take care of myself and others. This is what makes me feel good, it's why I'm here: to do something useful for humanity. As they say, I change in myself the change I would like to see in others.

Easier said than done of course. There is always the issue of control. I have said many times before that the only type of control valid for me is self-control. Controlling other people is not okay. I'm proud of myself for managing to not be a controlling parent. The kids have autonomy over their own bodies and education. I'm also a free individual and I show them that I don't let anyone control me. But now that they're older, they're not always with me. And for periods of time they live in a very controlled environment. When they were younger they wouldn't put up with it. They rebelled like all children do (they had 'tantrums'). Now they are more 'socialised', even obedient. They are condescended to, and don't seem to mind.

It makes me sad to witness this. Sometimes I prefer not to see it, so I remove myself from the situation. I remind them that they can say 'no' if someone demands them to do something they don't want to do, no matter who that person is. They tell me they're happy to do whatever it is that the controlling adult asks them to do. But I can see that this is not always true; they do it because they like that person, so they want to please them, even if they don't like doing what is required of them.

That's fine most of the time, but not always. What happens when they come out of a controlled environment like this is that they take it out on me. This is how I see the way they are treated even if I'm not around. They come back to me in a bad mood, sometimes they can even be abusive. Other times they ask me not to leave. Apparently, if I'm around other adults don't feel like they have to 'discipline' my kids: it's my job. They are not constantly told what to do, so they're more relaxed.

I do get angry when the behaviour of adult control freaks affects my relationship with my children. My first impulse is to go back to them and ask them to stop it. But I don't. This is the reality: we live in a highly coercive and manipulative society. And if I got back to the adults exerting power over my children, wouldn't that be another act of control on my part? Yes, I think so. So I just talk to the children, like I've always done. I remind them that they have options. Unlike most children, they can choose freedom. And if they don't like the fact that they have to eat when they're not hungry and not eat when they are, or are not allowed to eat certain foods, or are asked to do certain things which they don't want to do, they can always choose not to be in the care of those people. And I thank them for being always authentic and honest with me. But I also say it's not fair that they unload all of their anger on me and none on the controlling adults who are causing this behaviour.