“Husband, I’m sorry that I didn’t wash that pineapple underwear that you really wanted to wear today. Friend, I’m sorry that my baby threw up on you twice in a row. Co-Worker, I’m sorry I forgot to tell the deli guy to hold the onions on your sandwich.”
We’ve all apologized to our friends, family, colleagues, even strangers for things that we did that we were sorry about. But what about our kids?
How many of you have ever apologized to your child? Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “Huh? Why would I apologize to my kid? I’m the parent! I do no wrong! They’re the ones destroying my house and testing my patience!”
The other morning I lost it. Like, really lost it. When I “lose” it, I yell – Malcolm In The Middle mom style. We were without daddy for a few days, and my patience jar was almost completely depleted. There is only so much throw up, so many poopy diapers, and so many crying children that a mommy can take in a 72-hour period. I usually wake up in a good mood, but the other morning started off completely on the wrong foot.
As I was breastfeeding baby L at 6am, I felt bread crumbs all around her in my bed. Bread crumbs that smelled like pee. Maybe they weren’t bread crumbs. Did I really send her to bed with that rice cake in her hand again?, I thought. When I turned on the lights, I realized there weren’t bread crumbs in my bed. Or rice cake pieces. The things in my bed were the insides of a disposable diaper. I had put my 3 year old’s pull-up diaper on my 11 month old, and the pull-up had exploded on one side – and all that gel-y, chemical-filled, crystal stuff inside had come out and spread out all over my sheets. There was so much of it that I had to completely change the sheets and change baby L so that the room wouldn’t reek of pee.
Then, because I couldn’t go back to sleep, I went upstairs to put in a load of laundry. Of course, I walked into the laundry area to find the floor flooded. Greeeeeeat. As I was cleaning that mess up, I could hear my 2 older kids fighting in their room downstairs. The sun wasn’t even out yet, and they were already making like Tom & Jerry.
After I ran downstairs to do damage control, I told everyone to go into the kitchen and get ready for breakfast. We usually get up around 8am, but today they made like the roosters next door and were up at the crack of dawn. I put some milk on the stove to heat up, and I ran back upstairs to finish cleaning up the flooded mess. When I came back downstairs 3 minutes later, the milk had already overflowed and the room smelled of that nasty burned milk smell. As I was cleaning that up, Z started complaining that he didn’t have any pens to draw with, E was crying because “These aren’t pants, these are tights! How could you call them pants?”, and baby L was crying because she was hungry and pooped. When I turned around to finally serve Z and E their breakfast, I stopped dead in my tracks and my face turned ghost white. In the 45 seconds my back was turned to them, my 4 year old had managed to make his own Picasso drawing. On our white dining table. In black permanent marker.
I lost it. I snatched the black permanent marker out of his hand and yelled at him for drawing with it even though I’ve told him 100000 times before NOT to color with it (where did he find it, anyway?). I don’t spank my kids or insult them, even when I’m mad (as Christian Grey would say, those are my “hard limits”), and today was no different. But that didn’t matter. Me snatching the marker out of his hand and yelling at the top of my lungs made my 4 year old cry. A soft, sad cry that made me stop yelling and realize this was not how I should be reacting. What happened to my “calm” parenting and disciplining? It was nowhere in sight. It was so far from sight, in fact, that you’d probably need a telescope just to see it’s shadow.
Z silently sobbed for a little bit, and I felt horrible. There’s that mommy guilt. I could have nicely asked him to give me the permanent marker, explained for the millionth time why it’s bad to draw with the permanent marker, and sent him to his room for a time out. But no. I didn’t do that. I got mad. And yelled. Really yelled. And I felt horrible.
When I finally cooled down, I went up to him, kneeled in front so we were eye-to-eye, and told him I was sorry. I said that sometimes mommies and daddies act ways that they aren’t supposed to. I told him I was so sorry and that I promised I would try really hard to never yell like that again. I also asked him to please listen to mommy and never draw on our white dining room table again – especially with black permanent marker. I asked him if he would forgive me, and when he said yes, we hugged and kissed and “made up”. Z looked happier, and I felt better. To make things even better, I was actually able to wipe the black permanent marker off the table (yay!).
This isn’t the first time I’ve apologized to my child, and it won’t be the last. Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I’m infallible – I’m human, and I make mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to fess up to mistakes (especially when it’s a mistake with a little one), but I make myself do it. Why? My son is a human being too, just like my husband, my friends, and my co-workers. I would apologize to them if I had acted the same way, and my son deserves the same treatment. Not to mention that kids do as we do – not as we say. If I hadn’t apologized, my kids would get the message that yelling irrationally and not taking responsibility afterward is OK… and it’s not OK. And that’s why I’m glad I had the mom balls to say, I’m sorry.
Have you ever apologized to your children?