“I stink at this!” I yell across the room at my oldest as she’s crying on her bed and I’m standing at the door.
The red handprint on her bare hip is glistening, almost screaming at me to remind me what an awful mom I am. Let me tell you, I don’t need the reminder.
Hannah is only 3 and in a particularly trying day, she has not been listening at all. The final straw came as she swung and hit me getting out of the bathtub. In sheer anger and frustration, I popped her back.
The sting and the burn only amplified by her wet skin, my child who rarely cries in pain, screamed out.
I knew immediately I had made the wrong choice…all of the sudden, all the frustration and anger I had felt had morphed into guilt and remorse. Guilt I carry nearly 4 years later. Guilt that keeps me up those nights I let my mind wander back to that day.
As I follow her to her room with my loud proclamation that I have no earthly idea what I’m doing most days, I wrap her little body in mine and hug her and cry. I promise to never hit her again…and I meant it.
Years have passed and since that point, I have found a gazillion other forms of discipline…time outs, reward jars, no electronics, etc. But not physical force. I realized that day, coupled with the handful of times I had used it before, that it was NEVER going to work in our family. My child didn’t respond to it and I had such enormous guilt over it that to even consider it again would have been idiotic.
But that day, Hannah heard me say something that she and her sister have been hearing, in one form or another, for 6 years now…
I kinda don’t know what I’m doing in this parenting thing.
I mean, honestly, do any of us REALLY? I “get” it one day only to be slammed back to reality the next.
So yeah, I’m sort of a failure…like every single day I have this gig.
But I let my girls know it…not in the “Hey I’m an awful parent…definitely don’t listen to anything I have to say” way. But in a “Hey, guess what? I’m human. I’m fallible. I’m figuring this out as I go. And I hope and pray that you love me and trust me enough to know that my end goal is ALWAYS going to be the same – taking care of you.”
I like to think that my girls respect me a little more because of my honesty. That they see at the end of the day, I’m really just like them…just a LOT older and with bigger boobs. But in my heart, I’m still a little girl who wants to do it “right” the first time and be loved by those I love the most.
And I also think that by sharing my own failures with Hannah and Hazel, I am showing them it’s okay. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not get it right. It’s okay to keep trying.
But it’s not okay to quit. It’s not okay to throw in the towel and think I can’t do this any better.
Because you can. Because I can. Because they can.
It just takes work. And a lot of effort…some days more than other. It takes realizing you are wrong sometimes and saying I’m sorry.
And it takes hugs…a whole lot of hugs and kisses. Because when I think I’m doing it all wrong, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can do that right every single time.
If you have missed any in the series 31 Days & 31 Ways To Be A Better Mom, catch up here:
INTRO TO SERIES:
DAY 1: OUR BEFORE SCHOOL RULE
DAY 2: UNPLUG AND PLUG IN
DAY 3: STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD
DAY 4: EMBRACE YOUR CRAZY
DAY 5: BE A REBEL
DAY 6: DO AS I SAY
DAY 7: FIND YOUR VILLAGE
DAY 8: DIVIDE & CONQUER
DAY 9: ONE SMART COOKIE
DAY 11: STOP COMPARING YOUR CHILD
DAY 12: TAKE CARE OF #1
DAY 13: DATE YOUR CHILD
DAY 17: PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
DAY 18: QUIT BEATING YOURSELF UP
DAY 22: FAMILY DINNER SHMINNER
DAY 23: REBELLION IS A CRAZY THING
DAY 24: TELL THEM IT WILL GET BETTER
DAY 26: IT’S OKAY TO WISH TODAY WAS OVER
DAY 27: BE A GOOD DAUGHTER
DAY 28: QUIT TRYING TO BE THAT OTHER MOM
DAY 29: YOU CAN’T BUY THEIR HAPPINESS
DAY 30: TELL YOUR KIDS YOU ARE A FAILURE
DAY 31: LEARNING TO LET GO