Saturday, November 15, 2014

Children Will Listen...

I love Into The Woods. Deeply, passionately, I have loved Into The Woods for decades now. I could not be more excited about the movie coming out. I need some kind of count-down calendar for it.

There are a host of themes from Into The Woods that have resonated with me over the years, and so many ways that Stephen Sondheim taught me to be a better mother. For example, I have yet to lock any of my daughters in a tower.

But one theme especially, that stood out to me, is the idea that whatever we do, our children are listening, learning, putting away ideas and sorting them out in ways we don't always see at first.

This is on my mind especially because a couple of years ago I decided to give up yelling. Sometimes I succeed very well with this commitment. Other times I fail.

A couple of days ago, my oldest was supposed to help my 1st grader with his homework, so I could call some clients that I needed to get a hold of. It was simple stuff, nothing too complicated. But somehow, it didn't get done. It was a miscommunication between him and Quinn.

This was not the first time I had been stretched thin and asked my family for help getting it all done, only to be let down. This time I was mad.

But more than that, I was frustrated. I felt overworked, stressed out, and helpless to get everything done without help.

I felt vulnerable.

So I lashed out.

Nothing mean or nasty, by any stretch. More the standard, Why isn't this done, I needed your help, and you let me down, type speech. And definitely not delivered at a low volume.

Everyone was quiet. I don't yell very often.

I looked at my teen. He looked stricken.

I had forgotten for a moment how much my approval means to my kids. And the yelling wasn't about him. It wasn't that big a deal. He did not deserve to be yelled at. The yelling was all about me. My stress, my needs, my frustration.

I felt like shit. And rightly so

I took a few minutes and called him downstairs. Then I apologized. I explained how it was not about him, but instead, all about me. I told him that I'd forgotten how much it hurts him when he feels he's disappointed me. I told him that I was not disappointed in him, and how much it means to me that I have a son who is helpful, dependable, kind, and pretty much everything I could possibly hope for in a son.

See, the thing is, children do listen. They watch and they learn. And they don't always need to learn to be perfect. I think maybe it's just as important for them to see what we do when we screw up and fall short of the parents we know we should be.

Mother of the Year I am not. But I'll keep working at it.
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