Every now and then it hits me. My children are actual people. With their own thoughts and ideas and opinions and preferences. That are completely separate from me. Also, possibly, their thoughts might not be aligned with my own.
They’re only 3.75, 2, and 9 weeks old! How are they not thinking what I want them to?
But the WEIRDEST thing of all for me is to realize that my kids have FEELINGS. And that I can hurt their feelings. 🙁 In other words, not only are they people, they are persons. I don’t know why that makes a difference to me, but it does.
Yesterday, I was not proud of how I handled a situation with Cookie Monster. I basically yelled at him to hurry up, eat, and to stop annoying me. Multiple times. And every time I yelled at him, he would cry or shut down. Then I would yell at him to stop crying. (Because being yelled at to stop crying always makes it easier to stop.) While I was yelling, I knew I was being a complete jackass and tried to stop. I even walked away a few times. I would come back reasonable for like, five seconds, and as soon as Cookie Monster wasn’t behaving exactly like I wanted him to, I started yelling at him again.
Finally, I yelled so much at him that even though he had two more bites to finish his dinner and then revel in the glorious tastiness that is dark chocolate covered pretzels, he decided that he no longer wanted them and headed upstairs. He gave up something he really wanted because his jerk of a mother made the price of obtaining it too high.
I felt terrible. I apologized for yelling (but not for wanting him to finish his dinner). Helped him finish the dinner and gave him 1.5 pretzels. (He wanted more but he was really being a pill so I didn’t give him as many as he originally would’ve gotten if he had just eaten his GD dinner already.)
The rest of the evening went pretty good. However, when it came to bedtime, he kept wanting me (even though I was taking care of Glow Worm). Hapa Papa cuddled with him a long time, but Cookie Monster just wanted me. I went into his room, held him and hugged him and just looked at my beautiful boy and listened to his day, said his prayers with him, and enjoyed his company. After that, he was perfectly fine with me leaving and him falling asleep on his own.
I keep forgetting that my boy is a person in his own right and not just an extension of myself. I forget that when I yell at him and put all this pressure on him that he crumbles (who wouldn’t?) and digs in and just cries and cries and cries and is pretty much incapable of hearing anything I say to him let alone doing anything I want him to do. I forget that after I’ve done so, he needs extra cuddles and attention from me to reassure him that the center of his universe still loves him and adores him and thinks he is important and that what he has to say is important.
I feel like shit. I am so humbled. I’m a pile of humbled shit.
But it is a good reminder that my children have feelings – and that they are capable of being hurt. That my words and attitude and behavior matter to them. And that even when I’m a complete asshole to my Cookie Monster and the cause of his pain, he still looks to me to relieve him of that pain.
Both Cookie Monster and Gamera come to me for comfort even if I am the one who just spanked them or slapped them lightly on the hand. I only have to barely tap Gamera’s hand and she’ll burst into tears. There is no way that she is even in any pain! But despite that, they will come to me and say, “Ow!” even though I’m the one who caused the owie! And then, all it takes is for my all-mighty kiss on their owie and all is forgiven and healed. In fact, I think I’m forgiven even before I kiss them.
I have to remember that their trust in me is precious. That I have to take great care not to abuse that trust and to earn and keep it every day.
Not that I have to be perfect. I mess up quite often and have to apologize a lot to my kids. However, the over-arching consistency to my behavior has to be kind, understanding, and good so that when I do royally screw the pooch, they are still secure in the knowledge of my love and that my blow up is more the exception than the rule.
In the past, I would yell at my kids and say that Mommy was mad and not happy. Now, every time they sense I’m about to scream at them or am taking deep cleansing breaths, one of them will ask, “You happy, Mama? You happy?” That usually knocks some sense into me. How sad that my own children are checking in with me to make sure I’m happy – as if that is what they should be concerned about (or even what is ultimately the point of the Universe). I am now far more careful about what I say.
Also, I really have to stop saying, “I don’t care!” when they are whining at me because even though it is true that I don’t care at the moment, I never want my kids to think that I really don’t care. I am reminded of a thing I saw on Facebook about parenting small children. (One of the few times I read a meme and didn’t want to punch the poster in the face.)
Here’s the gist: If we ignore our children when they are small because what they tell us doesn’t seem “important,” we are guaranteeing that our kids won’t share the truly important things to us when they are older. Why? Because the “unimportant” things they told us when they were small were actually important to them.
Anyhow, this post is just to remind myself to not be such a jerk to my kids. How sad that this requires a reminder. Maybe I just have a case of the Mondays. Tuesday will be better!