Let’s face it… I mess up with my kids, a lot. As a parent, I don’t always say the right thing or have the right tone when speaking to them. Some days, I have the patience of a saint and can get through the day easily.
Other days, I royally screw up.
One of my twins is really having a hard time with potty training (specifically going #2) and I have been dealing with it a lot the last few weeks. She freaks out, whines, and pull at my clothes. When I take her to the bathroom, she either acts like she’s being tortured (through screaming or saying “no” repeatedly) or wants to play. This process has absolutely exhausting, and I’m at a point where I’ve almost completely lost my patience. Not only do I feel drained by one potty-training kid, but I’ve also got two other young children to care for at the same time. At home. Alone.
Feeling overwhelmed, I lose it in front of my kids. I revert to a child-like state. I yell, stomp my feet, and wag my finger – very similar to a child that isn’t getting her way. All of this while she looks at me, devastated. The other two kids, confused.
Writing it out, getting angry over something my child is struggling with seems ridiculous. How could I do that? Instead of dealing with my own feelings about the situation, I lashed out at my child who didn’t deserve it. I was so disappointed in myself, to the point where I felt shame and extreme guilt.
I decided to take a few minutes to breathe. I sat in another room, alone, while all three kids were fussing and screaming “mommy, mommy, mommaaaaaa!” It took me more than a few minutes to regain composure to return to the kitchen.
After trying to use all the tools I have been given in therapy (deep breathing and other relaxing exercises), I came out and I picked up the twin that I had yelled at. I gave her a long hug and said with tears in my eyes, “Mommy is so sorry.” I explained to her why I had gotten frustrated. She may not have understood everything I said, but I wanted her to know that she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. She’s 2. She is unsure about how to use the potty; she was not misbehaving. I also told the other two kids that I was sorry for yelling, as I believe it is important to model what I want them to become. Someone that isn’t afraid to say they are sorry when they screw up.
I also want them to realize that just because I am an adult, I am not perfect. A lot of times, children think their parents are infallible. And we are not.
Overall, I need to give myself some grace. I am not a bad mom. Isn’t it incredible how moms label themselves as being “bad?” Of course, we don’t want our children to label themselves as “bad” for making a mistake… so why don’t we extend the unconditional love we give our children to ourselves? We tell our kids they are human. They will make mistakes. That it will be OK. But I must continuously remind myself that I am not perfect. I am human. I make mistakes. I will own up to those mistakes. It will be OK. And tomorrow, I will strive to do better.