The trials and joys of motherhood

There are times when I struggle hard to not be competitive with daughter’s milestones. Reading Sari’s post, reminded me of what I had been doing in the last few months.

I have been quite a laid back mother, in comparison to some of the people I know. I have normally let her have fun, learn things when she is ready for them. I knew people who taught their 9 month old, the alphabet or the numbers. I consciously tried not to do that. I mean, there is plenty of time for all that, isn’t there?

Motherhood, unfortunately comes with all sorts of self-doubts and second guessing oneself, doesn’t it?? There came a time, when I started doubting my methods. Poohi had started phonics last year in the nursery, and she had started writing her name – she knew the sounds of some letters, but refused to read. I would try to get her to read a few simple words, but to no avail. She would be too busy trying to get me to do the reading.  I would have not bothered, had it not been for some of my friends who told me that their child started reading all by themselves, by the time they turned four. Now that had me worried. None of these children had been exposed to books as much as Poohi had, and yet they seem to have learnt to read faster. She loves books, loves being read to, and yet did not want to read? What was I doing wrong? Their mums said that they would spend time every day teaching them to read. And I never did that. I was so worried that I was not helping her enough.  Husband said that I was being too hard on myself, and once she starts, there would be no looking back.

I started trying, but it never worked. She knew every story in every book that we owned and would just rattle off the story, without even trying to read it!  All she wanted was for me to read the stories to her. I was torn between trying harder or letting her be.  I did not want to be a pushy mother, but at the same time, did not want to ‘not push her enough’, if you know what I mean.  I was also scared that I might end up putting her off reading altogether, if I tried too hard. That’s when I decided to buy her a set of ‘Read at home’ books, that she had never read before. I told her that these books had to be read by her – I was not allowed to read it to her.

Every time, she expressed some interest in the books, we would sit together and look at the pages. Initially, she was more interested in the pictures, and then, when she realized that I was not going to read the story to her, started reading – just like that! She knew the sounds, and could easily read the words. I would help her with the tougher ones, but it was mainly her own efforts. Now, she picks up the books by herself, with no prompting from me, and reads, whenever she fancies it. Not just that, she also tries to read my books, and is delighted when she finds words that she knows like ‘and’ or ‘this’.I still don’t know if it was that new set of books that did it or it was just the right time for her, but I am just happy that she is reading, and is reading because she enjoys it, not because I am pushing her to read. Because she wants to, not because she has to.

There she is, grabbing a few minutes after breakfast this morning to read. I can’t tell you how much that sight gladdens my heart. I just hope that her interest in books and stories stay with her all her life.

And here is her little library that houses her books

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45 thoughts on “The trials and joys of motherhood

  1. Can I please borrow some of those books? I love kiddy books! I promise to return them in pristine condition and add a few more as a thank you 😀

    Awww she is such a lovely child, reading after breakfast with that cute tiny index finger! Kiss her for me will you? 😀

    Smitha you surely deserve a pat on the back 😀

    • Sure you can 🙂 Come and take your selection 🙂

      Passed on your kiss 🙂 As for me, I really don’t know if I did anything – apart from trying to curb my competitive spirit 🙂

  2. I had a lot of problem getting my second one read books, even though the first one loved them and lapped them all up. I never gave up and finally one day, like your Poohi, he also began reading. Only, he was older than her, when he started. The best way to get kids read is to be persistent and keep exposing them to books. You have done the right thing.

    • She has been exposed to books since the time she was born. I used to read to her from the very beginning. She loves books and being read to – she was just being a little lazy about reading herself 🙂 Thankfully, she seems to enjoy it these days. I just hope she continues to read and love books all her life.

  3. Varu too didnt take the books,she just used to flip the pages but in grade 1 they have this reading program where everyday kids are told to read one line,with that she picked up reading.


    That is good. Poohi loves being read stories – she just did not want to make the effort herself. But now, she loves it. Even when I read her a story, she loves it when she can read the words herself.

    Recently i met a doc who is in usa and her kids are studying 7th and 8th grade there and she is making them study 10th class books of india so that her kids will be on par with indians kids not lagging behind.She nor the kids are going to come back to india,just to be on par with indians kids she is forcing the kids to study 10th standard books.

    I can’t understand that one bit. It reminds me of another doc here. She sent her daughter to India in the 8th standard. She is studying in a boarding school. Apparently, she will come back here in the 10th to do her GCSE here. The only purpose of 2 years of schooling in India, is to ensure that she tops her school here! I mean, I find that cruel! How can we uproot a child, send her to a new school for 2 years and then expect her to come back here and complete schooling here? I really wonder how it impacts the child – psychologically.

    Hugs to poohi and wishing her that her interest in books will be forever.
    Thanks Sari! I hope that too 🙂

    btw thanks for linking my post here.

    I should thank you – your post reminded me that I needed to post about this 🙂

  4. I can imagine the second guessing…. but I think it does make sense for the kids to set the course and not the other way around. I am glad you are letting her own potential and above all, let her be a kid a bit longer!

    • I just hope that I am doing the right thing. I just do not want her to feel pressured and to hate things which should ideally be giving her pleasure, you know.

  5. That’s great! Hope she has a lifetime love affair with books!

    It was nice to read this now…Dhruv has recently started reading 3 letter words, he’s 5.1 years…and his school will start the 3 letter words next month…so it looks like he’s right on track. With Div, it was so simple…I don’t even remember how and when she started reading.

    With him, I’ve been working hard…and it’s paid off…he loves books now, pores over them, adores some of them, and is suddenly actively asking me for foam-letter words to be put near his bed to read…it’s gladdening my heart because 15 months ago, he would scream if I’d tried to even read him a bedtime story!

    • She loves books , and loves being read to. Which was why, her reluctance to read by herself was puzzling to me. But I guess it is all about the right time.. She is just ready for it now.

      I am sure Dhruv is right on course. Foam letters – they sound fun! She loves letters, she loves making words, just did not want to go through the effort of reading. And I think I was probably reading a bit too much to her- on demand. So when I refused to read her new books, she decided to take matters in her own hands 🙂

  6. Wow Smitha, I am really impressed. I am very much like yuo, in that I don’t like to pressureise my child into the milestones game. But yes, when I hear other parents talking about their kids being able to read, then I do doubt my parenting too!! Will mesg u for the names of these self read books, perhaps they will help my brat too. He loooves books, but just doesn’t want to read by himself 🙂

  7. You know, I think parents, even if they are laid back, end up getting too pressured by other parents. And that is when the self doubts begin. I don’t remember this happening earlier.

    My mom tried getting me to read as a child a couple of times, but I would not respond and she stopped trying without worrying about it too much. Would you believe it if I told you I hadn’t’ really been interested in books till I was 9, and I never read (Except school work, ofcourse). And one day, somebody gifted me a Famous Five on my birthday and that got me totally hooked! My journey began and I plunged into the world of Enid Blyton. I never stopped reading there on..

    So I truly believe, there is a time for every single thing and we shouldn’t let the competing parents get the better of us :)That way, Poohi will have fond and relaxed memories of her childhood.

  8. She is well on her way to becoming a reader!! Love the library – so organized 🙂 I’ve had some of these same issues with my son, who adores books, and people telling me their kids started reading at 3 or 4…while he is 5 years plus now and has now started reading 3 and 4 letter words. They all get there eventually 🙂

  9. Like you, I second guess all the time…I love books and would like my daughter to also love them, but what if she doesn’t? Is it the end of the world? M likes Maths more than reading, so be it…Her school places a lot of emphasis on reading and she brings back two readers a day which she reads because she has to…Anyway, things might change later, who knows…

  10. oh wow! taht must feel wonderful. Well done Smitha. Its always best to be laid back and let the child learn and develop skills at their own pace I believe. Its very very tough sometimes to have that self control, but it is important too I believe. But to actually maintain a balance between not pushing too much and not pushing at all can indeed be really hard! I need to talk to you girl…. got loads to discuss. :)Hugs to Poohi for achieving this milestone. Well done girl!

  11. Such a cute post…. Poohi is looking so sweet with the book….

    Just wanted to say smitha that whatever you did was absolutely right… You might not believe it but I could not right properly even till I was in 2nd grade and every time my mom used to make me sit to write I used to throw away the pencil or hide it somewhere but with time I learnt to write and now I simply love to write and play with words….

    Poohi has got a very cool mom for sure and she’s gonna do very well in each sphere of life…

    PS – I loved your little library and that beauty & the beast folder is shhhhoooo cute…. I want it too… 🙂

  12. U know, just today mrng we were talking abt all that pressure parents put on their kids in the name of competition and their own scope for some show-off with the other parents.

    Poohikutty is ofcourse a darling and so lucky to hv u as her Mom Smithu 🙂 Hugs!

    and is reading because she enjoys it, not because I am pushing her to read. Because she wants to, not because she has to. – Lovvvved these lines 🙂
    Anything is always done better when we do it bcoz we want to. U gave us all a wonderful lesson there 🙂

  13. lovely post..Lovely seeing poohi immersed in a book and her collection of books. I know next to nothing about bringing up a child,but i think you ware right in letting her figure out when she wanted to do something. Parenting is so fraught with pushiness and anxiety oftentimes(that’s what i get told and seen),that i find your approach like a breath of fresh air. There will come a time when she’ll need to toe the line of others,till then let her have fun and learn things at her pace.And you keep having fun!

  14. Awww..thats such an endearing sight Smithu..watching Poohi read. Ummas to her!

    Passed them on, Deeps 🙂

    And you, dont tax yourself so much thinking about why she is not reading as fast as other kids and all that. I completely understand you. But smits, when she is ready you will know and thats exactly what has happened right? NOw look how much she is enjoyong this while aspect of reading.
    “…she is reading, and is reading because she enjoys it, not because I am pushing her to read.” Thats precisely how it should be. You are doing the right thing.


    I know.. But it was a little worrying, initially. I think the peer pressure does get to one, you know, sometimes.

    Those ‘read-it-yourself’ books are amazing, nahi. Namnam loves to read them! I plan to buy more when in Delhi this time 🙂


    They are! I have got the whole set of 31 books, and they are wonderful for new readers.

  15. Every child have their own growing time. Its good that you take effort, not to overstretch the child’s limit.

    I love her library. Knowledge is the best gift parents can give to children.

  16. Oh no, she will grow up being just like her mom publishing book reviews !! I would still be blogging, where will I go ! 😀 😀 😀

    Dont worry Smitha, some kids take their own sweet time and theres nothing wrong in that! It seems I started speaking at the age of one and my bro was a little late. He grew up and became an intelligent person and I am this way like how you all see ! 😀 😀 😀 I started walking in 8 months and my bro at 1 and a half; he is an athlete today and Im having joint paints ! 😀 😀 and please note, I have only an elder brother to speak about ! 😀 😀

    • LOL! Trust you to come up with something like this 🙂 You want her to publish book reviews too?

      Your brother must be heaving a sigh of relief that he is not the one with joint pains! But seriously, joint pains? Tvm is certainly not treating you alright, is it 🙂

  17. That’s a good way to inculcate the habit of reading…Pushing a child to read doesn’t work. You definitely did the right thing.
    I used to play building blocks with my mom’s Neurology books(since she was completing her DM when I was a toddler…):), but now that I am an architect,I wonder if that had anything to do with the ‘building block’ games I played then.

  18. There is a special joy when our litl ones show interest in reading. My nine month old kiddo just love reading and wants me to keep reading his pictorial books of vegetables, fruits, animals, alphabets etc. When I keep down the books after few reads hoping not to get him bored. He cries. It gives an immense joy 🙂 I can feel your feelings too.

    • Absolutely! Mine has been like that too! I have read to her since she was days old, and she loves being read to – she just did not want to make the effort of reading it herself 🙂

  19. Gud u let Poohi be herself. Of course, we mothers push ourselves too hard, but its time to understand the child’s interests and capabilities and leave it at it.

    While my elder one took to books very early in age, the younger took her time. And when she started, she just went in for books beyond her age and read them well too.

    Let children be themselves…of course they’ll learn and do well, if we support them well.

    • That is wonderful, Uma! I guess it just goes to show that each child has her own pace of doing things. And just because they start late or early, does not really matter in the long run. Poohi is reading quite well now. She always likes me to read to her, but now I read to her only at bed time, if she wants to read before that, I ask her to try reading it herself – and it seems to be working 🙂

  20. Smitha, I can’t tell you how relieved I am knowing there are others like me. With my son, I tried to teach him reading, but as you said, he just picked it up sometime after he was four and has not stopped since 🙂
    So I am just letting my daughter be, she will start in her own time, I know. But I do admit soemtimes I too have my doubts 🙂

    • I think as mothers, we will always have our doubts 🙂 But I do think that they will do fine, as far as we do not pressurize them too much. Now, she reads a book everyday – and enjoys it – that’s all that I ask for!

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