So I am continually amazed by my incredible ability to fail at this parenting thing. So for any of you that have this idea that I have this parenting thing down…well please, allow me to dispel that myth. I fail all the time and sometimes I fail hard.
One morning this week had started great! I got up at 5:30 in the morning, something I have been working on. So I was feeling good about myself. Kids got up around 6:30am. Now, we established with the kids that they are not supposed to go downstairs and watch morning cartoons until they are completely ready for school. (I used to let Paulito go downstairs as soon as he got up and then he wouldn’t want to stop watching TV to get ready and we would end up getting out the door late. As a result we set up this agreement that they have to get all ready first and then go watch TV and have breakfast. Everybody wins. But lately things had been slipping and they had begun taking all of their clothes with them and then getting ready downstairs. It has been semi working with Paulito so I hadn’t made a big deal about it. We were all still winning, but today…Victoria was about to change that.
I went downstairs to pack lunches at about 7:15 and my goal is always to get out by 7:30. The kids know this because I have told them that we need to leave the house by 7:30 so that mommy can make it to work on time and the TV is also programmed to turn off at that time. I need to be into work by 8. As I went downstairs this morning and I noticed that Victoria did not have her shoes or socks on. At 7:20 I said “Victoria, 10 minutes until we need to leave for school, I think you still need to put on your shoes and socks”. At 7:25 I said “Victoria, 5 minutes until we need to leave for school”. I still don’t hear any movement on her part. A couple minutes later, “Victoria, 2 minutes until we leave for school”. On the outside I am calm but inside I can feel my blood start to boil! “This little kid is about to make me late for work. I can’t believe it. Do I go and get her shoes and socks? No! She has to go and get them! Why is she doing this to me? I don’t have time for this!
Now it is 7:30 and she has no socks, no shoes and she is sitting on the couch. “Victoria, where are your socks and shoes?” Victoria replies “I don’t know”. Well then I let her have it: “OMG!!!! What have you been doing all this time! I was reminding you to go and get your socks and shoes on”. I grab her and begin to take her with me up the stairs but seriously, I don’t even want to be around her. I scream at her, “ I can’t believe you are doing this! You know I like to leave at 7:30 and you are going to make us late to school! Tomorrow DO NOT COME DOWNSTAIRS UNTIL YOU ARE COMPLETELY READY!!!!!!!!” By now she is in tears. I go up the stairs and get her socks and shoes and come back down stairs. At that moment I had no sympathy for this child. I think I even mocked her crying. I am now actually put on her socks and shoes because waiting for her to do it herself would have been torture. We get in the car and I let out a scream of frustration. It is not words; it is just a primal yell. In that moment I knew that I was frustrated because we were running late (and I hate being late) and because I knew I had failed with Vicky.
Both kids are silent the entire drive to school and so am I. I tell my kids I love them every day when I drop them off for school and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that that day. How horrible and cruel can I be? Sometimes I even scare myself with my level of cold heartedness. But you know what, it is in my DNA.
My grandmother, my mothers’ mother, is said to have tied a noose around her oldest daughters neck and thrown the rope over a tree branch and yanked her up a couple times. I tend to take what family members tell me with a grain of speculation because stories are often exaggerated so I actually asked my aunt if it was true and she said yes! That is the mother that raised my mother. I often wonder what it would have been like to grow up with these loving, nurturing parents who told you they loved you and hugged you all the time. My parents were amazing in their own way (as I have shared) and showed me they loved me in many different ways, but they were not wired with the ability to tell me they loved me, or even show a lot of affection. My mother is actually more affectionate now as an older woman. She hugs and kisses me and it is really strange for me. I am not wired for that kind of interaction with her.
I am not kidding when I tell you that I am not naturally affectionate or loving or playful with my children. I am not wired that way. So here I am. I seriously lost it this morning. Some people might say well, but she deserved it because she didn’t get ready and kids need to be punished and you should have expectations for your children. Yes, yes and yes. I agree that I gave Victoria plenty of reminders for her to get her shoes and socks on, and yes, it is normal that I was frustrated and angry at the situation. I think that all parents can sympathize with my story.
But here is the thing. Now what? Now, I need to own my part of this because I am the adult. Self-reflection is honestly one of the ways in which I have been able to get better at this thing. I felt awful all day, which is one of the way I can tell that my actions were most definitely a fail. I had to go inward on this thing. I didn’t go for my run, which meant that I did not endorphins helping me to stay calm. We were actually out the door by 8:35 and I was at work by 8:10, which is actually fine. I think I am stressed at work right now, which is adding to my lack of patience with the kids, another reason why I need to get my run in. In retrospect I could have just gone to get the shoes and the socks and calmly let her know that tomorrow she would not be allowed to go downstairs until she was all ready. I could have stayed calm. What did I tactually each her? I taught her that mami can be scary and that is the last thing that I want. I wanted to teach her to be responsible and mindful of her time. Total fail.
So here is the next thing. Once I realize that I have failed, I also remember that it is not over. I firmly believe that I can repair the damage. Actually I believe that I must repair the damage. So when I got home, I talked to Vicky about it. I apologized to her, I hugged her really tight and told her I was really sorry that mami lost her temper. I should not have yelled and I love her so much. She said that she accepted my apology and we hugged for a long time. We aren’t always going to get it right. We are going to fail and I think we need to fail. I think that my kids need to know that I am not perfect and therefore I do not expect them to be perfect. And when they make mistakes I want them to know that they need to fix it and apologize. In the end, it turns into a teachable moment for them and a learning experience for me and then it is no longer a fail.
My amazing, wonderful, madres and padres who are doing the best that we can, did any of that resonate with you? Let me know. I would love to hear. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this blog and please share if you think it would be useful to other parents. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your parenting evolution!