A Bad Weekend by Conlee Ricketts
I was a math teacher more years than I’ve been a parent. At some point that will flip, but it hasn’t just yet. There are moments in parenting when I catch myself doing the exact things I know way better than to actually do, but I do them anyway. I have decided it’s normal.
I think the number one rule I break is letting my feelings get hurt. In my classroom students occasionally did or said things that lacked emotional sensitivity but it never bothered me. Things as mild as asking me if I was pregnant (nope just ignoring my core, thank you), or trying to get me on What Not to Wear, or as rough as starting a brawl in the hall outside my room. I knew that every child needed to know there was a clean slate each day when they entered my classroom. Mistakes are made, apologies accepted, and life goes on.
As a parent I struggle some days with the clean slate because I’ve let my feelings get hurt. This usually only lasts for a few days but it’s still a few days longer than I like. For me the disgruntled daughter with the heavy, irritated sigh just irks me so much some days. I get caught up in the moment and it goes like this:
“What was that for?”
“You sighed! I know it’s something.”
“Mom!” with a heavier sigh, but more of a giant out breath “MOM” with eyes rolling back to check on her ponytail.
I can laugh about last weekend now because it’s over. I realize that I was not being a very mature adult. It’s actually quite funny. I would have laughed out loud if I had been watching two other people go through it. Rude I know, but sometimes you watch other people’s meltdowns just thanking God internally that it’s not you…today.
I won’t go into all the details but both of us had sinus infections so my patience was at a zero. There are moments when I have learned (the hard way) that we are both better off if I just walk away. The key for me is time and space. I will leave the room; I take a deep breath and forgive myself. After awhile when we are both smiling again I can ask her about it. I apologize, and by doing so I earn a few apologies back along with her insights into why my attitude fed into her attitude. It really is a chicken or the egg situation, and I’m not sure “who started it”, but as I reflect I’m certain my lack of patience led to my tone being a bit more snotty than is appropriate for a 48 year old woman, which in turn got me the same back from her. I tell her that I know we can both do better. She agrees. Hugs and I love you’s are exchanged and it’s done.
It can be difficult to put each interaction behind me and never bring it up again, but I believe this is the key piece to gaining her trust. She doesn’t need any reminder of what she did last week or last month—she needs a clean slate. The best part about giving her a clean slate is that she has learned to give me one too, and I need it! The guilt of my parenting missteps can be a freakishly heavy load if I choose to itemize them. So I won’t! I choose to set that load down, and enjoy the clean slate she has learned to give me.