Attention moms! Ever yelled at your kid then felt like a piece of shit? Ever bribed them with candy so they would finally do what you asked? How about the time you lied to them because you could not deal with the repercussions of telling them the gods honest truth in that moment? Well, join the fucking club. Let’s begin this conversation by saying that every time a mom has guilt or shame and doesn’t share about it, she plants a seed for the shame garden to grow. Inevitably another mom will have the same experience, an d since the mom before her didn’t share it she won’t either. Now we have an army of exhausted mothers who feel like shit all the time and smile and say everything is GREAT. Lucky for you, reader, I don’t know how to lie, so I am here to say motherhood is fucking hard, and I mess up ALL THE TIME.
I remember a specific evening when my son was 2 and in a hitting phase. He only hit me, and it happened daily. I took him out of his bath and he lifted both arms into the air and slammed his hands down on the top of my head. I LOST IT. I did not hurt him with my hands, but I hurt him with my words. I felt rage come over me and I yelled at him for what he did. I changed him hastily and put him in his crib without a goodnight song or a hug and a squeeze. I left the room and took a shower and sobbed. I checked the monitor obsessively to see if he was still awake and he was-he lied there in the dark with his startled eyes, and I felt a shame tidal wave overcome me. I thought of a friend to call who did not have kids but she had a perspective on living that I needed to borrow. I explained the situation and she stopped my rather quickly-“Do you know how many times you will lose your shit with your kids, Sam? This will be the first of many. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE RUPTURE, IT’S ABOUT THE REPAIR.” Woah. That tiny and critical piece of advice has since guided me through many parenting mistakes.
Moms, we will not and we cannot always get it right. We can always try our best, and when our best sucks, we can try and repair it. The process of reparation of course requires some digging. What happened to me in that moment? I felt totally out of control, I felt exhausted, and I felt like I had been saying that we do not hit at nauseam and it had fallen on deaf ears. I let my son’s emotional state lower me to his emotional level. In that moment I reacted rather than responded. I didn’t taker a deep breath, pause, and then address the situation. So after I took my own inventory, I checked to see if hr was still awake and he was. I went into his room and hung my heavy head over his crib, my tears falling on his pjs. I told him that Mommy got so angry when he hit me and my frustration made me yell. I told him that I was so sorry if the sound of my voice scared him, and that even though we are learning not to hit when we are mad, mommy is also learning not to raise her voice when she is mad. I told him that even when I am angry with him I never stop loving him, and that even when he makes a bad choice he is never a bad boy. I kissed his forehead and I left his room a little less sad. This business of guilt and shame isolates us and ultimately prevents us from getting better, feeling better, and doing better. Remember, we are only as sick as our secrets. Imagine a world in which moms share all of the hard things they go through, the many mistakes they make, the insane hardship and wonder that is parenting. Sounds like a beautiful, messy world that I most certainly want to be a part of. So just for today, easy does it. You will never be a perfect parent and that is ok. The only goal is to try your very best each day, survey how the day went, what went well and what could’ve gone better, and then trust that your best is good enough. I will see you on the parenting journey as we trudge through mud, quicksand, sunshine and rainbows.