September 18, 2018

The discipline of motherhood


Last night I had my Tuesday all planned out—I would finish my overdue column before noon, work on my other deadlines in the afternoon, and be done with all my work-from-home tasks by dinner time. Maybe I could teach my kids a thing or two before we would all happily retire for bed.

But two hours into our morning, I had a sobbing child who wouldn’t finish breakfast. It was almost lunch time when I glanced at the clock. I counted all the tick boxes in my mind’s to-do list that were left unchecked and saw there were two bites still left on the plate. I shall not relay all the, ehem, disciplinary actions that had taken place by this time but once I casually updated my husband with a picture of said child’s face about our morning, in a split second, daddy was video calling.

Our family had decided early on that discipline was part of loving our children. And recently I’ve been asked by my friends, “How do you discipline your kids?” I let them kneel down on grains of rice with hardbound books on each hand with outstretched arms for hours corresponding to their age. Sometimes I like to give crazy answers with a poker face, to see how well my friends know me. We get these questions often but what I think we’re really being asked is “How can you bear to discipline your child?”

Here’s my answer to the subtitle: It is not fun to discipline my children.

I don’t actually like to say no. I don’t enjoy breaking their hearts. I do not enjoy having to allow or execute consequences to their actions. No one is having fun when the kids are crying.

It’s not fun when I have to explain to my child, who puts all small toys in his mouth, that they cannot play with Lego parts anymore. When my child disrespects me, it would be far easier to shut the situation down by any means possible. Yes, including letting him off the hook. Having to explain where my child went wrong or what family rule he broke, waiting for the tears to stop falling, and getting them to a place of contrition is an arduous and lengthy process I would most certainly prefer not to have to do more than once daily. Factor in that I have two children, at least three meals a day that need to be prepared, daily deadlines, piles of unread books, and Netflix episodes waiting to be watched, taking the time to discipline my child is honestly not an activity I willingly choose.

But the discipline really relies on me. The discipline to keep at instructing my child. There are enough articles and studies on the Internet alone that will assure us mothers that establishing boundaries at an early age is important. And even if I am on Team Discipline My Child, I do still have to remind myself that this laborious process must be done consistently. Or else, why bother doing it at all? It is far easier to appease them or pretend it didn’t happen, and who doesn’t want easy when you are a mother? I’ll take that with a side order of a spic and span home, please.

Motherhood has taught me, more than anything else, that the hard choices are decided on daily. And that if I were to only do the easy things all the time, I would not be able to be the kind of mother I pray my children would have.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Marian Hukom

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children, culture, Discipline, momhood, Motherhood, parenting

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