In my 9th grade, after returning from school, I sat down to finish my homework and assignments. Even after 18 years, I still remember every detail of my experience and emotion of that evening.
Sitting during the last period of the day, I had already decided in the class that I’ll go home, finish all my homework and other assignments and then clean the crockery section.
I had over heard my mum saying that it needs cleaning. Last week I had upset her for scoring low marks and to make her happy
I decided to surprise her with the cleaning when she would return back from work.
So, now with the school tasks done, I prepared my school bag for the next day, layout my uniform near the dressing table and I set out for the task of the day.
I had never been close to the crockery section before.
Mum would always proudly showcase her expensive collection and then narrate the guests of the story of her hard work and how she was slowly building the collection.
She would ask my sister and I to stay as far as we could when she would clean or arrange it.
And before I started to clean, I was thinking that cleaning is going to be easy, all that one has to do is these four steps — pick it up, put it down, clean it up and place it back.
But when I opened the draws and the door, I started to feel anxious.
What if a cup slips from my hand and it breaks?
Would mum feel proud that I was helping her or would she be mad for breaking a cup?
Will I be able to do it without breaking anything?
One voice inside me, making me anxious, stressed and fearful. Another voice assuring me that everything is going to be good.
Have you also had an experience in your childhood or adulthood where you actually wanted to do something or buy something to make your parents feel proud but instead you were fearful or anxious of their reaction?
So, I set out to cleaning all the six shelves. All was going pretty well and I was extremely happy, confident and proud of myself for finishing it without any accident.
But just as I was feeling proud of myself, a ceramic bowl slipped from my hand and my reflexes immediately tossed it in the air but I couldn’t catch it. It crashed on the floor and broke into pieces.
I started to sweat and without a second thought I put the broken pieces in a plastic bag, and disposed it in a bin outside the house. I quickly did the cleaning, leaving the last shelf unfinished and went back to studying.
It was time for my parents to come home. I took a book and started to read it aloud so when my parents would step in, they would find me studying and be happy.
Though I was excited to show her how neatly I had cleaned the crockery and also the new style of display, I chose to bury the excitement out of fear, what if she her sharp eyes would identify a missing bowl.
So I remained silent throughout the dinner, faking a few smiles and quietly slipped into my room to sleep early to avoid any interactions.
I felt extremely disappointed with myself for having broken the bowl and for not being able to surprise my mum and make her happy.
In my constant effort to make parents happy and to receive their appreciation and validation I somehow started to feel I am not good enough.
And the more I started to feel I am not good enough, you know how it feels right?
And so after few months, when my mum cleaned the section herself, she must have asked my dad and both of us hundreds of times if we had seen a bowl or if anyone had broken it?
My sister and I glanced at each other and said — “we’ve never used or even touched the crockery section.”
But finally after four years, I finally took the lid off and shared with my mum of how the bowl went missing and apologized to her.
And today as an adult when I recall the incidents of the day, my key sharing from the story is:
Every child on this planet wants to make their parents proud of them. And they are all trying the best they can.
But in the process of keeping their parents happy, neither the child is happy nor the parent.
What children need is a parent who doesn’t constantly put them on a scale of worthiness. You accept your child for who they are.
In the pursuit to keep parents happy, somewhere children stop living for themselves and start to live a life to please others.
Would you like to share, how are you breaking the generational conditioning and doing this differently in your parenting?