As parents, we all blow it sometimes. Parenting is the most refining process I have been through in my life. These tiny people need me and are looking to me for love, guidance, provision, security, and snacks... so many snacks. All of my emotional garbage has been and will continue to be excavated and aired out on display for these small humans - and the world - to see. So much junk spews forth simply by bringing them into the world - my fear, anxiety, desire for security and comfort, my body image, and my lust for sleeping in. It is absolutely no surprise that I don't hit the mark often.
Recently my husband and I have tried this novel thing - apologizing to our daughter when we mess up. You know, when we loose our cool, ignore her because we are on our phone, or one of our other many flubs. And you know what? That little girl is so gracious with forgiveness.
It's as though she just wanted to know she was seen by us, and once she felt that, she was fine again.
Now, there are things we can do as parents that go beyond just the everyday indiscretions where more healing and possibly intervention is definitely needed. However, for the smaller parenting mistakes, apologizing has been transformative.
For one thing, I feel different. I am seeing myself as an imperfect work-in-progress. I'm not getting so stuck in the mistake but see that there is a healthy way forward.
For my daughter, now she too apologizes more easily to us and to friends because she is seeing us do it. She is seeing that mistakes are not the end of the world, and it is not a matter of if but when we mess up.
Together, we are embracing the process of living life as an imperfect human and trying to grasp the illusive concept of grace - grace for each other, and grace for ourselves.
In addition to apologizing we have also shared stories of mistakes we made as kids. This is fun. We are choosey about which stories we share and are hoping this doesn't back fire and give her a bunch of fresh ideas of trouble to get into, but oh well. It's a process.
Our screw up stories seem to be healing to her (and our) inner critic and perfectionist. She loved hearing about how Dad accidentally hit Uncle G in the head with a rock and then ran for his life back home to avoid getting pummeled. Or when Mom jumped off a moving bike thinking she would flawlessly land and run behind it, but instead face planted and had to hobble home for bandages. A favorite is when Dad skipped math classes early in high school to be the first in line for meatball sub day, which resulted in getting detention.
We will wait until later to tell her about our alcohol-related and other "technically" illegal indiscretions, but until then we will do our best to be the parents our kids need and when we fall short, we will own it and apologize and forgive.