Leave it in Time-Out: Bad Days Don’t Define You
A few weeks ago, we had a rough day…probably one of the lower spots in my parenting “career.” It was just me and the kids, and frankly, we were all crabby. Tempers were running high. Words were flying. Disobedience ran rampant. Patience was low. Ever have one of those days? Ever find yourself caught in a power struggle with a four year old and wonder what the heck you’re doing? Have you ever flown off the handle or lost your cool in front of the kids? The answer is likely yes…We all unfortunately have those days…..the days where we say or do something in anger…..when we let our tone get out of control…when we forget we’re speaking to a child and not an adult who has upset us…when we take out our frustration on the only people we’re around….the days we go to bed feeling like an epic failure. Yep…I have those days too…..and that day was the battle royale…and I was positive I had ruined my children, and blown my “shot” as a mom.
I went to bed feeling like a complete failure as a mother. Then, around 11:30, my heart found hope in the arms of my little boy. Henry knocked on our door, and upon my husband opening it, he crawled right up into our bed and into my arms. We’ve never let our kids sleep in our bed, so they rarely come and get us at night if they are sick, afraid, etc. This was rare. However, what struck me the most, was that he still wanted me. We had a horrible day together, and he still wanted me. I hadn’t “ruined” it. We were going to be okay.
Kids are resilient and very forgiving. They haven’t yet learned to hold grudges, don’t cling to the negative, and haven’t let their hearts grow bitter and callous. They don’t mean everything they say (yep, even when they say they hate you, love their other parent more, or want to run away), and love and need you more than you will ever know (or that they’ll admit when they’re older.)
Don’t let a bad day, (or a bad year), determine your future.When we let our guilt and parenting insecurities eat at us, we begin to live out our negative expectations. What we need to recognize is that , the blow-up you just had with your seven year old….that name you yelled at your child in anger….that moment when you snapped….that doesn’t define you. Parents make mistakes. We can’t let those moments of lost control snowball….Accept that it is what it is. It happened. Admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness, forgive your child, work to resolve/ammend any patterned negative behavior (in them or in you) and MOVE ON. (Your kids are….why are we still stuck on that fight in the kitchen? They forgot about it the second their buns left time out!) We’re going to butt heads with our kids on occasion. We’ll probably lose our tempers. We all say things we shouldn’t. Making a mistake does not make you a bad parent. Fighting with your six year old doesn’t lessen your chances of the Parent Patrol showing up on your door with a blue ribbon and check for a million dollars to name you “World’s Best Mom”….those people aren’t coming…What we forget is that in our children’s eyes, we’ve already won that award….regardless…Your child…he/she forgives you. They love you. Pick up the pieces of your fight/episode/tantrum, clean it up, and keep moving forward.
Today, I pray we take a lesson from our babies…to truly forgive and forget…to let it go….to get up from a bad situation and go right back to our regularly scheduled life. Yes, sometimes we all need the time-out…the time to reflect on our poor choice and calm down….BUT, when that moment of learning and reflection is over, we need to leave our bad feelings behind. Drop the bitterness, the guilt, the fear, the resentment and move forward. (As I write this, I’ve heard one of my children get sent to time out, and then get right back up after his “talking-to”, and head immediately back to riding his scooter and giggling with his sister. He’s not stewing over the bad thing that happened. He’s not creating a grudge in his heart. He’s not thinking about how this one incident must make him a “bad” child….No, he made a mistake, cooled off, and moved on. It’s time we did the same.