An inescapable part of humanity is that we make mistakes. We don’t always get it right, in particular, in parenting. We fumble, we lose our patience and despite the best intentions, we often don’t feel worthy of walking around sporting a ‘Mother of the Year Award’. Somehow, although we recognise that inevitably humanity brings its faults, we find it easier to forgive other people than ourselves and at the slightest parenting infraction; we beat the guilt whip on our own backs. It’s many a mother’s curse. Thoughts of “I could have done better”, “I should have known better”, and “My children deserve more” seem to become the underlying judgements of so many dedicated mothers. The problem is that these beliefs create mountains of guilt, which ultimately stand between our children and ourselves, hampering the joy of connection we could be sharing with them.
Last weekend, I stuffed up…
I am fiercely protective over family time, and usually my boundaries around this are very high. My friends know it, my clients know it. Uncontaminated family time in this rushed and busy world is vital, and I am a constant advocate of it… but I am human… I make mistakes…I flounder…
The mountain load of overdue reports I had to get out and the invoices I needed to send got the better of me, and to my shame, I spent a considerable amount of the weekend behind my laptop. As parents, we are well aware, that despite all excuses and attempts to disprove it, it’s impossible to connect and be in the moment with our children and loved ones when we’re focused on anything else, whether it is Facebook, a WhatsApp conversation or an overdue report we are frantically typing. The fact that my main PC decided that last weekend would be the ideal time to freeze and subsequently crash, complicated my rising stress levels, and two of the attributes we need most in parenting- patience and a sense of humour (which I usually try and have in abundance), were definitely a bit more scarce than usual.
Eventually Sunday night arrived- and along with it, bedtime stories, prayers, goodnight kisses, cuddles and the inevitable bedroom recalls of, “I just want to tell you ONE more thing” (a few times!). I sat down at the table and had just started typing another sentence on a report when Christian called me yet again from his room. ‘Mommy’….
In my exasperation I had a moment we all have- exhaustion, frustration, and trying to do just one too many things…. I yelled down the passage, ‘WHAT!?’
As I turned back to my laptop, the guilt overcame me… I walked down the passage and as I entered my little boy’s room I noticed that he was sitting up in bed and crying. A softness swept over my tense being, and my heart ached… “What’s wrong, my love?” (although my soul already knew).
Through the tears and sobs, a broken little voice, “You shouted at me…”
I crumbled. I knew that all the pressure of the weekend had come bellowing down on him in that one word I had shouted down the passage. He had not caused my admin backlog, or computer meltdowns… Tidal wave of guilt…..I went over to him, threw my arms around him and apologised- “I’m so sorry for being a grumpy mommy this weekend. Sometimes parents need to say sorry, and I’m really sorry my love”. His response brought tears flooding to my eyes- it was his baptism of forgiveness…he threw his arms around my neck, drew me in closer and still through choked up teary eyes, uttered, “I love you mommy, I love you so so much”.
He had forgiven me, and I had been reminded of some really important parenting lessons, learnt the hardest way – through my child’s tears. Family time should be sacred when it’s limited and our children feel it when we are disconnected from them in any way. The occurrences that frequently cause our stressed reactions to our children often have nothing to do with them – they are inside ourselves. My little boy had forgiven his grumpy mommy in one tender embrace, and I needed to forgive myself, and to learn from the experience.
Thankfully, children are resilient, and they discover pretty early on in life that parents are human, and make mistakes. This is an important realisation as it also gives them the freedom of knowing that they can make mistakes, and it takes the pressure off of them feeling like they need to be faultless for us.
I messed up last weekend. We all do from time to time- sometimes significantly. Christian had forgiven me straight away; he had loved me through my flaws. Our children forgive our mistakes long before we let go of the anxiety and guilt of making them. We are the only ones who hold so tightly onto that whip.
There are no perfect parents, but what differentiates a good parent is that they learn from their mistakes and are willing to keep learning daily. Forgive yourself from the guilt you carry of all the wrong things you may have said and done, the overreactions, the under reactions, the times you did too much, the times you didn’t do enough- the burden is a heavy one that carries a heavy price…guilt which becomes a wall that gets in the way of our connection with our children…
Be free Mommy…
You are the perfectly imperfect mother – you are exactly the mother your child needs and all the mother your child will ever want.

Happy Mother’s Day!

With much motherly love,

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