My last blog post spoke of my son, G-Prime, some of his challenges and how I had chosen to handle them. I received some lovely comments on Facebook and was starting to feel extraordinarily good about myself. Like, that’s-right-I’m-nailing-this-Motherhood-thing kind of good about myself. Which is exactly when my daughter decided to serve me up a big ol’ slice of humble pie! It was tempting to crawl into a little hole and lick my wounds privately, but I thought it was important to share my wins and my fails on this blog. I know I have learned just as much from my mistakes as from my victories, so I may as well offer you the benefit of learning from them, too.
Otherwise, this is just embarrassing.
So, I was riding my “Awesome Mothering” high when my daughter decided to flip me some attitude. It was a week ago, so I don’t even remember what the issue was about specifically. I just remember it had to do with homework, disobeying, a bad attitude and mouthing off. I remember my eleven year old Princess Warrior giving me an eye roll so big, that I’m surprised she didn’t cause permanent damage to her optic nerve. And I remember getting mad. Spitting mad. Guttural, growling, incoherent mad. All because I was feeling disrespected.
The whole thing started with her questioning my requests to do homework, degraded with her grudgingly obliging me (between snarky asides and death glares), and ended with me yelling at her to go to her room F.O.R.E.V.E.R. She stomped past me with a “Whatever,” and I nearly came undone. I was the kind of angry where you can no longer string words together into a coherent sentence; you’ve deteriorated into snorting with random words:
*cough* You don’t even…
*snort* I can’t…
*roaring mewl* You’d better… AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!
I felt righteously angry. I am the mother. I should be obeyed and shown respect. I am right to be disappointed and upset. Right?! Then why did I feel so off about the entire thing? As she sat in her room, frustrated and fuming, and I stomped off to my room, frustrated and fuming, I felt worse and worse. I flopped on my bed, turned on my side and my eyes immediately landed on the 30 Day Mom Challenge I had printed off. Day 2: Go the whole day without yelling. *gulp* Day 5: Say to yourself, “He’s only __ years old. He’s still a child.” Then, treat him that way. Okay! I get it! I messed up.
The hard part is that I knew I was right in not allowing disrespectful and defiant behaviour, but I was wrong in the way I went about correcting her and I wasn’t sure what a better way was. At a loss, I went and found my husband and told him what had happened. He patiently listened to the whole thing and then said, “Do you know why Little Miss doesn’t engage with me that way? It’s because I don’t get emotional about it. I simply state what is happening that isn’t acceptable and why, then I give her a consequence. If she gets snotty with me, she gets another consequence.” When I thought about it, he was right.
Part of the reason she and I escalate so quickly is that we are so alike, but the other reason is that I become WAY TOO emotionally invested in her responses. She’s eleven, a pre-teen, and her whole world is a dramatic hormonal mess (at least it is to her). I don’t need to take every word, look, and tone she gives me to heart. I don’t need to measure my value as a mother against the time it takes her to obey. I don’t need to take it personally…and I had been. Lesson learned, but there is an even greater truth to realize and speak.
Every time I haven’t known what to do or what to say to my children, but managed to find the right words; every time I haven’t known how to fix what was wrong, but the answer came; every time I have shown patience beyond my normal limits; every time I have succeeded in ways that are beyond me, it was only because I humbled myself and asked God for help. “Father, guide me today. Give me the words. Help, Lord. Help!” And every time I have said the exact wrong thing, lashed out in anger, and failed miserably it’s because I was trying to parent within my own limits and without the help of God. That’s it. That is my secret. I rely on Him and it works out better for all of us.
So, what did I do? I went to my daughter and wrapped her in a big hug. I told her that I love her completely, even when we aren’t getting along. I told her that I will never be okay with her treating me poorly, but it will also never be okay for me to treat her poorly, back. I told her I was sorry. I told her how I would handle things next time and we agreed to try again. Will she mess up and be rude and impertinent again? Probably. Will I mess up and lose my temper and lash out again? Probably. But we are both going to try and maybe next time we’ll get it right.
Humble pie is a lot like quinoa or wheatgrass; most people don’t want to eat it, but if you can choke it down, the benefits are considerable. Acknowledge your mistakes. Give a genuine apology. Learn from the experience. Choose to do better next time. Ask God for help. Those are the takeaways, those are what I hope she learns from me.
With Much Love,