Friday, September 10, 2010

Parent Fail

I'm in the basement watching a video that I got at work. Most of it is has subtitles which are in yellow print, which was probably not the best choice. I'm sitting on the couch squinting to read the print and concentrating pretty hard. One of the clients who comes to our program is being featured, and I'm working hard to focus on the video of her.

I hear footsteps coming my direction. I tense up even more in my focus on this video. The footsteps get closer and I see Abe's legs coming down the stairs. He's holding a small pink bowl with a fork. He says, "Hey Mom! Look what I have for you! Do you want to share?" I'm irritated, not so much with Abe as with Ted for sending him down when I'm trying to focus on something (I hadn't even told Ted what I was watching and my need for focus, so yeah, I was being especially difficult).

Abe is excited to show me what he's brought down. He sets the bowl next to me on the couch and starts to climb up. Because I'm so focused on trying to decipher difficult-to-read subtitles, I barely look his direction. The bowl tips over spilling watermelon all over the couch and my leg. Abe has climbed up on the couch by now. I quickly stand up and call upstairs, "Hey Ted! Why did you send...." but I'm interrupted by Abe's wailing. And I mean: monster, heart-broken wailing with rivers of tears.

The second I yelled out Ted's name, Abe started crying. He laid on the couch, covered his face, and sobbed. It turns out that before he'd come downstairs, he'd been in the kitchen with Ted, determined to share with me, his ogre-mother. Ted even told him that he could offer me his watermelon but "Mom might not want any so don't be sad if she doesn't." He came down anyway, so excited to share with me.

Yes, that soul-crushing experience for our son was a special gift from me. Major parent fail. In that moment, I so hated myself.

I couldn't have felt worse. I sat down on the couch and put him on my lap where he snuggled his head into my chest and continued to cry, getting the front of my shirt wet. It took him several minutes to calm down. I just kept apologizing. I turned the video off and rocked him and said "I'm sorry" over and over.

I told him I'd love to have some watermelon. Through sniffles and straggler tears, he nodded. I sat him next to me on the couch. He took the fork, speared a piece, and fed me. Then he took a piece for himself. We ate the whole bowl this way. One for me, one for him. When it was down to two last pieces, he gave me the small one and said, "I like the big pieces, okay?" Abe, no problem, little man. You take the big pieces.

Later in the night, he needed some time on the step for some act of disobedience (can't even remember what it was), and when I went to get him off the step, he said to me, "Mom, sitting on the step was a good idea, right?"

Who is this kid? How can he be able to so quickly forgive and so quick to understand the need for discipline? I wish I were the kind of mother who never showed her impatience, who was always willing to turn from what she's doing to give attention to her child, who is tuned in to her child's spirit more often. I'm not though. I just hope that my willingness to ask forgiveness when I mess up will truly make up for my mistakes as a parent.

For the rest of the night and now this morning, this song has been going through my head.


Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

7 comments:

kristine said...

Those are awful awful moments. I know because I've had more than a few. Now too it's worse, because Q remembers!

Still, after it's all over I console myself. He will not be perfect. Is not perfect. He will do some things that hurt others that he will greatly regret. And he will remember these moments. He will know how to apologize. He will remember to forgive. It's good.

You've known people who could never apologize right? They are not happy people. They never are. To be happy we have to be able to be humble enough to apologize and you showed a way to that. To fail is human...but to admit it and then ask for forgiveness...great job Mama...it ain't easy.

Wildflowers said...

hang in there! you are doing fine.
we are in the process of adopting, and as of now we have 4 cats- i get those same feeling with my furbabies, lol!!!

we do what we can. we are only human. as above posted mentioned. we learn and we try.

it is part of life but it is tough when we have those feelings of 'fail'. but, look you did share the fruit, and you got cuddles during it and some bonding thru the experience. frusteration is a tough booger to reason with but to work thru it and come out the other side seeing it for what it was worth is the key.

Autumn and Dan's family said...

Those are the hardest sort of moments. With Rhett away on his first day of kindergarten all I can think about is if I've been a good enough mother for him...if I've made him happy. That is what has been killing me today.
Great...here I go again...:(

coffeemom said...

Oh. Hugs to you. And sweet Abe. And so it goes. You're a human mom after all. And this won't be the last time ... Unfortunately. I've long lost count of my selfish impatient hurtful blunders. Forgive yourself. He already has. And take a deep breath and begin again. Even these sharp moments are part of the weaving if family. Sigh. I feel old reading this... Knowing I did this and do. For so many years. But I suspect you are a quicker study than I w that tender heart of yours.....

Meg said...

Kids are the best 'accidental' teachers. Thank you for sharing this.

becca albertson said...

i can so relate. So. Relate.
love from nc.

Cindy said...

(((hugs)))
those are hard days. Thank goodness they are few and far between. I love Kritstine's response...it is perfect!