Parenting is hard, messy and imperfect. Being a parent educator doesn’t make me mistake proof, this is a lesson I had to learn the hard way after feeling all the guilt, especially that I am a perfectionist myself.
I am sharing an example of my imperfect days for all the parents out there who look at my content and might think that I do all the right things. Oh no that’s far from the truth, I am still learning and making many mistakes, but it’s okay because that’s how we learn. As my mentor, Dr. Jane Nelsen, always says “Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn.”
A day during the lockdown, I woke up all ready for a fresh day and ready to deal with a new day of parenting. I even started the day with one-on-one time with my older kid to build on the connection between us. We had a quiet and smooth morning together, we laughed and bonded together until his younger brother woke up.
As we went through the day, he had several tantrums, was defiant, uncooperative and would bluntly say NO whenever I would ask him to do something…I tried as mush as i could to be patient, empathize and acknowledge his feelings, but then he hit his younger brother with me right there in between trying to block the hitting but I failed.
That triggered me and I immediately turned into a crazy person and started yelling. I felt rage, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I realized that my rational brain has shut down but I couldn’t stop screaming. So I had to get up and leave the room. He came running after me, but I needed to keep him safe from my outburst. I locked myself in the bathroom. Once i was in there alone, I started crying. I recalled the look of fear in his eyes and realized how scared he must have been. Me, his source of love, nurture and safety, treating him that way must have been so devastating to him. Most of the thoughts that were running through my head were:”I don’t want to do that or be like that”.”I know better than this. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.””I am destroying him. I am such a bad person and a horrible mum.”
I would have stayed there longer, to simply cry it out, but I could hear him sobbing outside the bathroom door. I took many many deep belly breaths to move from that state to a place of calm. I didn’t become totally calm, but I was able to reframe the incident in my mind from seeing him as aggressive/bully to seeing him as a kid struggling with his big emotions, with all the stress of the quarantine and being home not understanding what’s really going on. He didn’t deserve this reaction. I managed to think rationally again and went out and hugged him and apologized. I hugged him tightly and acknowledged how he felt, and he cried louder when I said “You must have been so scared when I yelled at you like that. You don’t deserve to be yelled at like that, I am sorry.” And held him a little bit longer until he was the one who let go.
I tried to stay silent for the rest of the day to avoid reacting this way again.
That was one of many difficult days of my parenting journey.
I am sharing this because I want to be honest and transparent about my experiences too and let you know that parenting is really hard. No matter how much parenting information you know or read about, you cannot be perfect. It’s ok to make mistakes, what’s important is to work on the recovery and repair the relationship with the children and try again. Children are so forgiving, but it’s super important to reconnect with them again as soon as we can and later do our own work of managing our triggers and come up with a few strategies to self regulate in the moment.
If you lose it(as we all do), you are not alone, you are not a horrible parent, you are simply human. Pick yourself up and try again.