Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Just One of Those Days
Today was one of those days when I was ready to throw in the towel. Retire. Quit. Wash my hands of this whole parenting gig. I was done. My kids had been away, on vacation with their dad for 6 days last week, and I missed them so much. When they returned last Friday, my reserves were full. I had the patience of a saint. All I wanted to do was be near them, to hear their stories and watch their goofy interactions. The honeymoon ended today, however and I had long, detailed fantasies about what it would be like to go far, far away.......alone, for a very long time.
Maybe it was the whining, or the complaining. It could have been the bickering and the arguing. Perhaps it was the way I came up against resistance and negativity from all three of my kids repeatedly throughout the day. Who knows? Whatever it was has now passed. All three of my cherubs are sleeping soundly and the only sound I hear is the tapping of my fingers on the keys. Ahhhhhh. Peace at last.
One of the things that happens for me when I am having a rotten parenting day, is that I panic. I worry that I will never, ever be able to muster up love or compassion for these rotten kids, ever again. I quickly lose track of the fact that most days aren't like this at all. Most days I actually like my children. But, no. My mind races ahead years, decades, even, to what it will be like in my now grown children's therapy sessions, as they process the tortuous years they endured being raised by such a crazed, heartless mother.
I had a brief moment of clarity today as I listened to the complaining and whining drone on and on. Everyone just wants to be loved, right? In that moment, my children were whining and complaining because they felt unlovable. They were experiencing discomfort on many levels, and struggling with a very basic desire we all have to be loved and accepted. Most days, I am able to love them right on through those bumps in the road. Most days, I can strap on my patience and unconditional love like a suit if armor and walk right through the battlefield. Today, I could not. I am learning that I can't be a great parent all the time. Some days, I just don't have it in me.
I'm noticing a theme in our house these days. Several times a day, I find myself reminding the kids that it's okay to make mistakes. It's actually more than okay, it's necessary and important. I try to come up with fun, silly responses to lighten the mood for Charley a bit, when he holds himself to an expectation of perfection when he's writing his letters or trying to remember how to spell a familiar word. When Janey melts into a puddle of tears because she messed up her knitting, I gently remind her that mistakes are the way we know we're learning something. We joke about how human beings aren't even "allowed" to be perfect. All the perfect ones get sent to Mars because Earth is only meant for imperfect beings. I spend so much time and energy every single day helping my children understand that in this life it's about progress, not perfection. I guess it's time for me to listen to my own advice.