It’s not WHAT she said that drove me crazy, it’s WHEN she said it.
It was midnight.
Bedtime had been stretched out insanely long for months now, something I hoped to remedy soon, and my last straw was being asked to get a snack at midnight.
By a 3-year old.
By my 3-year old.
Right then I acted like a very mature, 40-year-old woman and flounced out of the room and told her if she wanted a snack she could go get one BY HERSELF!
I was done with dealing with hungry toddlers whining at me in the middle of the night. I was done with an 11-year old boy staying awake way past when he was supposed to and being grumpy the next morning. And for that moment I was done with never seeming to have a break and dare I say it? With being Mom.
I shut the bathroom door and pouted in the dark for maybe two minutes before she opened the door and I remembered we still hadn’t got a lock for that blasted door.
She was whimpering at me in the dark and looking pitiful and of course I felt even more guilty about it all so I led her to my room where I knew there was one of those applesauce squeezable packs, tucked away in my purse for those days we are out somewhere and she says she’s hungry (this child is always hungry.) I gave it to her, reminding myself she’s just a little girl and she can’t help it if she gets hungry at midnight. Even I get hungry at midnight sometimes.
It also wasn’t her fault that her mom hadn’t stopped her and her brother’s playing and told them it was time for bed much earlier in the evening than I had.
I took her to bed, telling her I loved her, and then I laid in the dark after she was asleep and felt guilty for yelling at her and her brother right at bedtime. I kissed her head so many times I’m surprised I didn’t wake her.
Then I tiptoed into my son’s room, where he had already fallen asleep, and kissed his head. Suddenly, in that darkened room, a sliver of light from the street leaking in, he wasn’t 11 anymore in my eyes. He was still five and innocent and little and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and hold him against me.
But he’s too long now and I knew if I attempted to scoop him up I’d fall over backwards and drop him and I on the floor, cut open his head and we would have to call an ambulance. That’s how the brain of a mom works – we take a simple idea and blow it into the most scary outcome we can imagine.
Being a parent is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. We all have tough days and boy do we blow it sometimes. Even when we blow it we love them and they love us. We all make mistakes and fall right on our faces in this parenting journey.
Maybe you feel you have failed as a parent too. We know we are not alone, yet we often feel we are alone because parents fear sharing their fails. We fill our social media feeds, and even our personal interactions, with images and tales of our children’s accomplishments and our successes. We rarely share about our blunders.
No one wants to admit when they have made a mistake and certainly not to other parents who we think have it all together. The truth is, no parent has it all together – no matter what their highlights may show. Maybe as parents we need to be a little more public with those moments we fail in, be brave and show other parents they aren’t alone in their struggle.
What makes us good parents is that we recognize we are not perfect, we apologize when we need to, and are not afraid to admit our mistakes. In fact, maybe not being afraid to make those mistakes makes us even better parents.
When our children know we can admit mistakes then they know that, yes, mistakes are always going to be made, but we can always learn how to improve from them.
And when we admit our mistakes to other parents we can learn from each other.
All photos by Lisa R. Howeler