Yesterday I had a not so stellar parenting moment. J and I were arguing as we were about to leave for a planned outing. He started to storm away and I yelled that we were getting ready to leave and he would be having fun! My exact words escape me but rest assured, it was not my finest hour.
We all have these moments and we need to be able to acknowledge that without fear, guilt, and self degradation. For too long we (mothers) have been held to an unrealistic ideal of perfection, placed on a pedestal that we are doomed to fall from. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. And if the internet has taught me anything it’s that no one else does either. Good for us! Mothers are learning to accept their limitations and (hopefully) be less judgmental toward each other at the same time. Hurray!
Accepting our limitations and acknowledging that we aren’t perfect doesn’t mean we throw our hands up and say, “Oh well, nobody’s perfect,” every time we mess up. When our kids mess up we expect them to fix it. We love them anyway. We acknowledge that they are learning to navigate the world. And then we expect them to fix it. We have to do the same thing. We are learning to navigate the world as parents and there will be mishaps. But we fix it.
Yesterday after the anger dissipated I went to talk to J. I didn’t blow it off. I didn’t chalk it up to everyone screws up. I didn’t just apologize and expect all to be forgiven. I opened the door for communication. I listened without getting defensive. And I learned something about my son and about myself as a result. Through our discussion I was able to piece together the root of the issue. It turns out we’d both misinterpreted something the other had said as an indication that they were annoyed/angry with us. After reflecting on that it occurred to me that this is an issue for me- going on the defensive when I’m afraid someone is upset with me. And apparently I’ve passed this “coping technique” on to J. Damn.
So, I guess I can add “passing along a dysfunctional fear of being misunderstood and the slightest rejection that accompanies it” to the ways I’ve unintentionally screwed up as a parent. But I still have “listening to my kids” and “trying to be not just a better mom but a better person as a result of the things I learn from my kids” in my arsenal of things I’ve done right. And you better believe my kids have made me a better person. Case in point, yesterday’s events- I’ve always know I feared rejection but now, thanks to my son, I’ve pinpointed an unhealthy way I’ve been dealing with that fear. And when I know better I can do better and (hopefully) help him do better as well.
Like so many other momma bloggers I’m admitting my failure and saying I’m a damn good mom in spite of my imperfections. But I want to be sure to add that there’s a big difference between accepting imperfection and wallowing in it. It’s the difference between beating ourselves up for our mistakes and simply acknowledging that we can do better. I don’t hate myself for raising my voice yesterday. I am not walking around weighed down by guilt about the defensive coping technique I’ve been using for so long. But I am trying to change it. I want to show my kids that accepting your own imperfection, loving yourself no matter what, doesn’t mean you stop growing and learning. It doesn’t mean you stop striving to be great.