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“I stink at this!” I yell across the room at my oldest as she’s crying on her bed, and I’m standing at the door. Yes, I admitted to being a failure on this day. Our kids need to know that we make mistakes, too.
Here’s what I mean…
Today, Hillary is sharing the importance of why our kids need to hear about our failures…
Her tears and the red handprint on her hip serve as a reminder of what an awful parent I am today…. and let me tell you, I don’t need the reminder.
Hannah is only three, and she has not been listening on a particularly trying day. The final straw came as she swung and hit me, getting out of the bathtub. In sheer anger and frustration, I popped her back.
Her wet skin only amplified the sting and the burn; my child, who rarely cries in pain, screamed out.
I knew immediately I had made the wrong choice… all of a sudden, all the frustration and anger I had felt had morphed into guilt and remorse. The guilt I carry nearly four years later. Guilt that keeps me up those nights I let my mind wander back to that day.
As I follow her to her room with my loud proclamation that I have no earthly idea what I’m doing most days, I wrap her little body in mine and hug her and cry. I promise never to spank her again…, and I meant it.
Years have passed, and since then, I have found a gazillion other forms of discipline… time-outs, reward jars, no electronics, etc. But not physical force. I realized that day, coupled with the handful of times I had used it before, that it was NEVER going to work in our family. My child didn’t respond to it, and I had such enormous guilt over it that even considering it again would have been idiotic.
But that day, Hannah heard me say something that she and her sister have been hearing, in one form or another, for six years now…
I kinda don’t know what I’m doing in this parenting thing.
I mean, honestly, do any of us REALLY? I “get” it one day, only to be slammed back to reality the next.
So yeah, I’m sort of a failure…like every single day, I have this gig.
But I let my girls know it…not in the “Hey, I’m an awful parent… definitely don’t listen to anything I have to say” way.
But in a “Hey, guess what? I’m human. I’m fallible. I’m figuring this out as I go. And I hope and pray that you love me and trust me enough to know that my end goal is ALWAYS going to be the same – taking care of you.”
I like to think that my girls respect me a little more because of my honesty. That they see at the end of the day, I’m just like them…just a LOT older. But in my heart, I’m still a little girl who wants to do it “right” the first time and be loved by those I love the most.
And I also think that by sharing my failures with Hannah and Hazel, I am showing them it’s okay. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay not to get it right. It’s okay to keep trying.
But it’s not okay to quit. It’s not okay to throw in the towel and think I can’t do this any better.
Because you can. Because I can. Because they can.
It just takes work. And a lot of effort…some days more than others. It takes realizing you are wrong sometimes and saying I’m sorry.
And it takes hugs…a whole lot of hugs and kisses. Because when I think I’m doing it all wrong, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can do that right every single time.