When they flounder and when they fly.
How many times a day do you feel like you are failing your kids? Do you carry your parent guilt around like its a fashionable hand bag or shiny watch? Are you looking around to see if others have noticed your poor level of parenting? Hi, my name is Kate- I feel like I do it all wrong 7,329 times a day.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I walk around feeling like I am a rockstar in the parenting department. That seems to come around far less frequently than the times I am questioning every decision I make on behalf of my children. I have made some BIG, HUGE, GRANDIOSE mistakes- like, epically horrible mistakes when it comes to my kids. You’ve read about the dangers of kids and fireworks, right? Well, I won’t go into all these ridiculous mistakes, but when to start to feel guilty about feeding your kiddo a Happy Meal for the third time in a week, remember there was someone out there who let their kid play with sparklers without shoes on. (Mom of the year!!!)
I am not sure if the failure portion is worse to stomach when it comes out of nowhere, when you think that you’ve got it in the bag or when you knew it was going to fail all along. I try to take it all with a grain of salt when I can, because truly, you can’t control everything. They have to fail- but crap does it hurt when they do. (Unless you had told them to listen to you five thousand times and they earned what was coming to them, little jerks!)
We recently switched schools, and after a weekend of telling everyone and their uncle, mailman and dog walker, that the switch has been an overwhelming success- our sweet 2nd grader wanted not a single thing to do with walking back through those doors on a sunny Monday morning. Hyperventilating, tears and snot flowing, she stood rooted, twenty feet from the entrance declaring that she would not be going in. My gym buddy and four year old looked on from the car, waiting patiently for what should have been a two minute drop off. While I utilized every idea I had, the commitment to her feeling only increased. I had to bring out the big guns, which was painful to do. I told her if she did not walk into school that minute, there would be no more horse lessons. The look on her face made me feel like the world’s largest jackhole, yet I was also relieved to not be bartering in public view any longer. I walked her to her classroom and when her wonderful teacher saw the tears of hers, and mine quickly forming, she took over the situation just in the knick of time. I said my goodbye and walked quickly down the hall, happy to have sunglasses to hide my watery eyes from all the happy drop offs.
She doesn’t hold a grudge, so I know she will come home and hug me and tell me about her great day. I also know it is my job to get to the root of the apprehension and be ready for the comments about friends, and perhaps, the lack of them. I am going to have to once again hide those tears and help her be brave and patient and tenacious and faithful (while all the while really being ok with her staying home because those kids are idiots and don’t know what they are missing anyways). The day will soon come when she jumps out of bed, excited to go to school because of whatever reason. The day will also come again where she refuses to go through those doors for whatever reason.
The saying “the days are long but the years are short” always applies when talking about kids. These moments that you think you break your children (like 7,329 times a day) actually help shape them into little, amazing humans. You’re giving them a safe space to flounder and fail. You’re showing them that you’re human and make mistakes too. You’re setting the example that not everything is fun, or easy, or quick. This understanding and those skills are so important for the times they are ready to kick butt in this world. So on the days you feel like you are failing, remember you’re really teaching them to fly.