Every day I look back through old posts I’ve written on that same day in previous years, and if there are any that are still relevant or if I think they will be useful to readers, I repost them on Facebook.
(Yes, I know I should be scheduling these in bulk at one time so I’m not doing this daily, but I’m just not there yet. And that’s a whole different blog post).
Anyway, two years ago yesterday I had written this post.
I wrote it while experiencing some massive mom guilt after totally losing it on Number 5, 6, and 7 before they left for school.
On a regular day I would have felt pretty badly about it.
But this freakout also happened on the morning of Number 7’s birthday. She was in kindergarten at the time, and it would be the first time she wasn’t home all day for her special day, and I wanted to at least make her morning nice, and, well, things started out okay and then deteriorated rather quickly.
Last night I was driving all the kids to swim practice, and I told them how I had read this old post I’d written.
And I asked Number 7, “Do you remember the morning of your fifth birthday when you were in kindergarten?”
She thought about it for a minute, and then she said… “Nope.”
I’ll be honest. I had no recollection of it either. Not until I read this post.
So I reminded them how I had made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast on a school day (not typical for me) and how I had wanted to make the morning perfect, and how everything was going perfectly, and then Number 5 realized it was picture day and we hadn’t picked out any clothes the night before and we discovered that morning that she really didn’t have anything “nice” to wear, and so then she started bawling her brains out and a couple minutes later Number 6 realized he had no pants and so then he started bawling his brains out and so two kids were hysterical and Number 7 was taking it all in stride but then I lost it too and screamed at the kids and told them all to SHUT THE HELL UP because I couldn’t take it anymore and I just totally snapped and while I was upset I was really only upset with myself because the unraveling of the morning was all my doing.
All three of them looked at me and all three of them said, “Mom, I have no idea what you are even talking about.”
Then Number 5 added, “The only thing I remember about picture day in 2nd grade is that my shirt wasn’t really that nice.”
I remember beating myself up over that one for a LONG time.
A LONG TIME.
All for nothing!
So I’m not advocating that you throw all self-control to the wind because your kids won’t remember the freakout you had this morning two years from now and just lose your shit whenever.
Daily freakouts would not be good for your kids. Or you.
I mean, ideally we don’t get to freakout stage. Or our meltdowns are few and far between.
But we are all human, so there are going to be parenting situations that aren’t our proudest moments. They are inevitable.
And I think for the moms and dads who feel guilty afterward, who regret reacting in a certain way, that is a really good sign that you are evaluating your responses to your children and wanting to do better the next time.
But there is no need to hold onto those instances for days or weeks or years.
It does nothing for you in the short run, and in the long run, it’s a blip on the radar.
But I DO think these moments are incredibly powerful opportunities.
They are opportunities for you to model how to “recover” from the loss of self-control.
These are the skills I think we are lacking so badly in society now.
And not really so much from children, but from adults.
Adults so often fail to acknowledge and take ownership of their behavior.
We are so quick to point fingers and blame when really we should be pointing our fingers at ourselves.
We have a pile of clothing on the floor of our bedroom, but we punish our kids when their rooms look the same way.
We put limits on our kids technology use when the majority of us have no limit for ourselves. We implement a no-technology-use-on-school-nights rule for all the kids. But not for us.
We ground or punish or take away privileges when our kids yell and scream and fight with each other, but we justify our screaming at them for whatever reason we can pull out of our back pocket. When we do it, it’s okay.
I believe acknowledging and taking ownership of your behavior is extremely powerful.
This is a skill that kids need to practice.
And they need to witness it coming from the adults in their lives if they are gonna learn to do it themselves.
We are all going to screw up thousands of times in our lives. Owning our mess ups is a skill that will not only help us to reflect and evaluate our behavior, but it will also earn us the respect of our spouses, our children, our colleagues, our teammates, and our bosses and supervisors.
Acknowledging your mistakes and owning them may be one of the most important skills we possess.
It affects your relationships, your job, and your overall health.
So the next time you have a massive meltdown (or even a tiny one), don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, be grateful for the opportunity to show your kids how to (wo)man up and own your parenting fails.
Two years from now your kids won’t remember today’s freakout.
But by then they could have a dozen examples of you acknowledging your behavior in their memory banks.
And that is an education I’d pay lots of money for.
Because those are the moments that create healthy, humble, and self-aware human beings.
And isn’t that the end game, after all?