Ever have one of those days where you are certain you are the worlds worst mom? Your kids can’t stop fighting with each other and you are at your absolute limit of what you can calmly handle. And then it happens - you lose control - and you do or say something you will later regret.
My most recent regrettable moment happened as I was leaving my sons karate practice. Both of my kids had been a hot mess since coming home from school; fighting nonstop, refusing to listen to me, and acting as if they were some kind of animals that belonged in the zoo, not in my house. Don’t get me wrong, I have great kids, whom I love dearly and who are very well behaved at school and typically in other social settings.
While they are at school they are doing their best to be the smart, kind, and hardworking kids their teachers want them to be. They are trying hard to be the funny and caring kids their friends want them to be. When they come home they can finally let their guard down and be themselves without needing to filter who they are in any way.
They know I love them. The messy them. The yelling and screaming, break down and cry over any simple request I throw their way, them. They know that after a tantrum or time out that I will embrace them in a hug and tell them how much I love them.
So why is it that every day after school my little zoo animals act like they have been released from their cage for the first time in a decade? Because they’ve spent the entire day trying to be the person they think they should. Knowing this, I wonder why it is still so hard to accept them as they are and allow them the space to melt down.
Because. We (moms, dads, caregivers) have bad days too. We have days where we want to have the same kind of unfiltered meltdown; where we kick and scream, throw things, and cry freely. Unfortunately we don’t usually have the freedom to do that because we have kids (and often jobs) that depend on us.
My regrettable moment was when I asked another parent if they wanted another kid for the night, implying I would love if they would take my daughter and give me some relief. It was a comment made in jest but also in exhaustion and lets be honest, clear desperation. I felt awful after saying it because I want my kids to be free to express their emotions with me. I want them to be allowed to have a bad day without fear that I would ship them off to someone else.
Does that comment make me a bad mom? Some perfectionists might say so, but I think it just makes me human. As parents we are faced with one of the most challenging jobs in the world. We have to teach our kids how to be safe, kind, and respectful in the world. We have to discipline them yet find that balance of allowing for bad days and intense emotions.
Our children crave and need a safe place to land, where they know they can test boundaries, be real, emotional, and unfiltered. On a good day we treat them with empathy, kindness, and a nurturing hug. On a bad day we should do the same for ourselves and find empathy, kindness, and nurturing thoughts and actions towards ourselves.
Am I the worlds best mom? Certainly not. But, I’m not the worlds worst mom either. My nurturing side is learning how to slow down and ask myself how I can respond in the moment while honoring my spirit as well as my child’s. I’ve learned to accept the 80/20 rule when it comes to parenting and try to be my best self 80% of the time and accept that 20% of the time I’m like a child and still learning and growing.
To all those parents out there who struggle in the same ways - how do you nurture your spirit when you have a bad day?
What are your regrettable moments and how do you handle the aftermath (guilt)?
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