Saturday, August 2, 2008

Learning from our mistakes

Why do I make the same mistakes over and over again? I am constantly castigating myself for not being able to have more patience with my kids; for saying thing that shame them and build them up. I know that that was the paradigm I was raised in - much worse, actually - but I keep hoping that I can overcome the things that come out of my mouth at times.

Granted, it's hard to deal with the various needs of four small people, but I honestly don't think that's a good enough excuse. Parenting is really the hardest, most constant thing I've ever done, and I have small successes and big failure sometimes.

Yesterday started off badly - my husband Tom and I had a stupid argument, I spilled the last cup of coffee into a full basket of freshly washed clothes, and we were just about out of toilet paper. Money has been very tight, and my daughter's best friend canceled her sleepover because my daughter has/had lice (even though they're gone, they were squicked out enough still to want to wait). I had a minor argument with my friend over it, and we both ended up ffeeling defensive and a bit hurt on behalf of both of our kids. I've had my period for over a week, heavy and uncomfortable, and I'm exhausted and sick of it. I had to make an unexpected trip to the city that I didn't have gas money for, and I didn't get to spend the day as I had planned. It was a long day.

But finally, Emma had her first cheerleading practice, which she has been anxiously awaiting since March. The girls mostly knew each other, and the coach is new. I really wanted to stay and volunteer my coaching help, and to help Emma feel more at ease, so I asked my other daughter to sit with the two little ones in the grass for an hour.

It was a disaster. The coaching part would have been fun and wonderful, but my son was screaming and whining; my daughter was making it worse, and the baby clung to me. I ended up leaving, dragging my son to the car, and hissing threats. I gave my 9 year old a huge guilt trip, and generally, my own too high expectations of everything made us all feel like horrible human beings.

I had even planned for it - brought water and snacks, talked about my expectations ahead of time - but it wasn't enough. I was so disappointed and embarrassed by their behavior. And then in my own. We all got home and apologized to each other, had a good dinner and reconnected before bed, but I wish I had handled it better.

Hopefully, next time I will. I try to be accountable for my own bad behavior and to take responbility for it. I wish I had a little angel on my shoulder to remind me to take a deep breath and to whisper the right solutions in my ear. Unfortunately, that little demon on the other shoulder gets the upper hand sometimes! Here's to banishing that little bugger!

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