The other day I made a mistake.
The other day I made a lot of mistakes.
The other day I yelled at my kids more times than I care to admit.
While there are those that believe parents should never yell and others that wear their yeller title with pride or mere acceptance that this is their destined way of being, I don’t fall on either side of that line.
Me? I’m a yeller, but I am a yeller who wants to stop yelling!
I actually want this very badly — for myself and my kids — BUT, I also understand and wholeheartedly believe that my yells are actually teaching my children something and not dooming them for life.
The other day, I yelled louder and dare I say “scarier” than I had ever yelled. Even now, I can step outside of myself and picture and hear myself. I legit growled, people — I mean really, who does that?
What had set me off? My child did not want to do something that had to be done and instead of relating to him and out of fear of coddling him or “letting him off too easy,” I tried to accomplish the necessary task by instilling fear in him.
No, I didn’t intentionally plan to frighten him, and in fact, he said that I didn’t; but I think I did — I could see it in his eyes. I probably looked like a monster for a hot second, but I was so frustrated at the situation and getting nowhere that I pretty much lost my sh*t while my son was losing his.
That same day, someone I know shared a quote which I cannot recall verbatim, but the gist was that when our children are experiencing chaos/challenges or are struggling, WE, the adult (remember, you are supposed to be the adult???) are supposed to be the calm one.
I wasn’t calm. I was a mom losing her mind and ever since the incident, I have felt horrible about it.
But, later that evening, my son said something so casually, but it was so poignant. He said:
“There is no school to go to that teaches you how to be you.”
A genius, I am seriously raising the next Dali Lama.
That evening, I had taken some time to apologize to him (note: I apologized to him numerous times throughout the day including right after mommy monster made her appearance) and what I said to him was this:
“Mommy is sorry that I scared you earlier. Mommy is sorry that I yelled. I shouldn’t yell at you or anyone, and Mommy is working on that. Mommy was getting very frustrated and instead of helping you figure out your feelings, acknowledge them, and express them appropriately or help you deal with them, I yelled at you for them. That was wrong. Listen, Mommy is learning. This whole parenting thing is hard, and there is no school for me to go to that will tell me how to do everything right. So, I’m sorry.”
To which he responded:
“I made a lot of mistakes today too Mom, and there’s no school to go to that teaches you how to be you.”
My goodness. He was right. This is coming from a wise-beyond-his-years four-year-old.
I am learning to be me — my authentic self, at the same time he is learning to be him — his authentic self.
Neither of us — the adult or the child — is going to get everything right. We are not perfect.
Neither of us should expect the other to be.
What we can and should expect from one another is to learn from our own mistakes and each other, and to be improving upon our relationship every single day.
You may make one or many parenting mistakes in a day, but that doesn’t mean that you suck and need to wallow in disappointment in yourself.
Parenting is a beautiful journey, made up of a variety of pleasant moments and seemingly ugly ones. I for one am so glad to have a son (and daughters) who understand that single challenging moments and the plethora of mistakes I make don’t define me as a parent, and that what does is how they and I work through them and learn from them.