Those days when you feel like an absolutely terrible mother – those days just flat out suck. We did not start today out well. I sent my boys off to school with attitudes flying everywhere…including and especially my own. Hudson is 10 and Asher is 7. Compound their ages, the fact that they are two brothers relatively close in age and almost the same size, and the fact that Hudson has ADHD and can be extremely impulsive and we get some pretty severe cases of sibling rivalry from time to time. Add in a tired and annoyed mom, and we get – well…today.
I’ve reproduced a shorter version of myself in Hudson. That boy and I can butt heads so badly at times, and it’s entirely because we are exactly the same person in different bodies. We both have to have the last word. We both have to be heard. We both have to understand the world by experiencing it ourselves. And we both have to feel respected without always understanding that we have to earn that respect. We both have a temper. We both have to walk away and think or we will put a foot in our mouths so deeply it’s impossible to breathe. We both over-react. We both struggle with admitting when we are wrong…until much later. We both easily become overstimulated and need space. We both crave truth and learning on our own terms. We both have a strong desire to prove ourselves. We both have a firecracker spirit. We both fight hard and love harder. We both don’t know when to quit. He’s me…only shorter and more male.
I maintain the first two years of being a parent are little more than survival mode. After that, we start navigating full-blown uncharted territory. We pray we are just going the right way and not making turns that will cause us to be forever lost in thorny woods. But we have a faulty compass when we rely on our own methods and when we refuse to turn around after making a wrong turn. Why? Because kids don’t come with a map or guidebook. Today, I took a wrong turn and I’m going to have to explain to my son that that’s okay. He can take wrong turns too, which he did. Neither of us handled today well. But as the parent, it’s my job to model how to respectfully handle mistakes.
So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll admit wrong. I’ll apologize. I’ll do better. But I also have to help my kid understand there are consequences for how he behaved today as well. He’ll argue and he’ll be mad…again. But this time, I won’t react. This time I’ll model behavior I want him to adopt. Don’t be like the me I was this morning, be like the me I’ll be tonight. Learn from mistakes and keep going.
I sucked at parenting today. But I’ll forgive myself and do better. My kids deserve that.