Parenting. It’s a job that doesn’t come with an employee handbook, pay, sick leave, or rules. My kids think it’s funny when I tell them that parenting is the most important job I’ll ever have. They don’t see it as a job. Not only is it the most important, but also the best. So how is it that the people I’m supposed to be teaching end up teaching me? Read on for lessons I’m learning about “Mom Guilt”.
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can sit back and think on a time or two when you didn’t handle a situation that great. We don’t always get it right. And guess what? It’s ok to make mistakes when it comes to parenting. No one is the “perfect parent”. No one. But I do know how it makes me feel when I mess up. Guilty, did I scar them for life, will they look back on this one day and throw it back in my face? All those weird thoughts come up and it’s not always pleasant.
I’ll start by saying I am most definitely not a perfect parent. Parenting is quite possibly the hardest job in the world. There are plenty of days when I eff everything up. Or at least that’s what it feels like. You see disappointment in their eyes. And you feel like you’ve failed at the best job you’ll ever get. Mom guilt comes in the picture and sometimes, it’s hard to let it go.
I waver back and forth on this mom guilt thing. There are some things I don’t feel bad for at all. We don’t go nuts at Christmas – I don’t feel the least bit guilty about that. I’m teaching them lessons. I don’t buy them a toy at every store. No guilt here. They can’t play their iPad during the week. Nope – no guilty feelings here. I make them do chores – ZERO guilt. But then there’s the day that comes when no matter what good happened in the day, something negative drowns it all out.
Prime Example – Pinterest Fail Day
I’ve got two amazing kids. At the time of this story – C is 10 and A is 7. They are both smart, funny, respectful, and helpful. No major issues with either of them. Normal childhood things, but nothing serious. I’m saying this because it seems that would make it easier. But there are so many days that I just don’t get it right. I lose at parenting. I lose at the most important job I’ll ever have.
One day, I decided to go all Pinterest mom on them and have a super cool day of fun crafts, foods, snacks, and movies. We scoured Pinterest together and found some great ideas, went shopping for all the ingredients, and came home to start the fun. Well first off the food sucked – can I say that? I hope so because it’s true. No one liked it. So onto the snacks. Another Pinterest idea – fun graham crackers with colored icing, sprinkles, the works. This one was a winner, so I pat myself on the back and move on to the movie. Build forts – check. Snuggle in for the movie – check. Stop the movie 18 times so someone can get more snacks or go pee. Movie is a success. Check.
Here’s where it goes south. It’s bedtime. I’m tired because I’ve been a Pinterest mom all day. No one is listening to me. No one is brushing their teeth even though I’ve yelled it so loud, the neighbors are probably brushing their teeth out of fear. After a ton of threats, it’s finally time to get in bed. Are they in bed? No. They are running around like wild animals sword fighting with Minecraft swords. And they are bickering and doing everything they can to be mean to each other. They are being rude to me and disrespectful.
More yelling. Until I’m just done. Done.
I make them both sit on the floor and listen to me very carefully. And I tell them I’m not raising ungrateful children. I reprimand the two of them that I did everything I could to make it a fun day and can’t believe that this is how they act towards me. I tell them I’m sorry we don’t have unlimited money to go do fun stuff all the time. And I keep on until I’m so angry that I’m crying. Then I look at their faces and they are crying. I’ve made them feel so bad and it hits me that I’ve gone too far. They are devastated that they made me cry. We hug and cry and say I’m sorry.
Everyone goes to bed a little sad and the day is completely ruined.
I wish I could say it was all better the next morning, but I woke to a note that A apparently snuck onto my bedside table. She tells me she’s so sorry and she learned a lesson and she’ll never stop loving me. And I cry. I’m so sad because I tried to make them understand like adults. They aren’t adults. Sometimes food sucks and plans don’t go as they should. But I blew it. I could’ve used this as a positive lesson that sometimes things don’t work out and we just go with the flow. And I feel horribly guilty. I talked to them about it. I explained that I messed up. I didn’t handle my feelings well.
Thankfully, what they remember most about that day are the graham cracker snacks. So there’s that silver lining. I’ve tried to remember that day. I still get frustrated beyond belief, but I try to remember that they are children. They don’t get the right to be rude or disrespectful, but they do get the right to be tired and cranky sometimes. We all do.
The Lesson I Learned from my Kids
Shortly after the “incident”, we had a conversation at the dinner table about parenting. I asked if they thought I was strict. To which they both adamantly said no.
Shouldn’t they have a healthy fear of me? I am insistent about manners, they have weekly chores, when I say no, it means no, I don’t buy them stuff at the store much – that’s what chore money is for. I’m not the “fun parent” and I’m ok with that. But I think I’m pretty strict.
So I asked them that. Don’t you think I’m strict for making you do chores, use your manners, spend your own money, etc?
C looks at me point-blank like I’m a unicorn or something and says to me:
“No. Isn’t that just teaching me to be a good person?”.
And I nearly cry in my non food pyramid dinner that probably consisted of chicken nuggets and jello.
Yes – kiddos. Please remember that. Even when I feel like I’m losing at this whole parenting job – that’s what I want. I don’t care if you’re the smartest, fastest, best athlete, most popular, or have tons of money one day. I don’t care if you make A’s on every test or have the most friends.
Good people. That’s what I’m trying to raise. If I can do that, then I will be a winner in my eyes. And some of this mom guilt can get out of my head.
I still feel that “mom guilt” feeling sometimes. I think we all do as parents. But it’s a bit easier now to let it go. I keep that sentence in my head “teaching me to be a good person”. Sometimes it’s hard. Often, we do things that are best for them but they can’t see it yet. They really want that new toy/electronic/whatever it may be, but we don’t buy it because we’re on a budget. They want to stay up later but we say no because sleep is good for them.
Don’t let one day ruin your perception of yourself as a parent. Learn from it. Definitely. Don’t wait until you blow up like I did and expect kids to understand like adults. But if you do. It’s ok. Learn a lesson, move on, and let go of the guilt.
Sometimes you’ve just got to give yourself a break. Parenting is so hard. We’re going to make mistakes. Our kids will make mistakes. Don’t think you’re a bad parent if you make a few mistakes along the way. One “Pinterest Fail” day does not define you as a parent. One bad moment doesn’t outweigh all the good you’re doing. And chances are, you’ll remember more of the negative stuff than the kids will! So give yourself a break and let it go!
Don’t forget to pin it!