He stumbled in, sleepy-eyed, just before 6:30. I stopped my early morning work preparations and went to snuggle next to him in our bed. He peeked up at me after I peppered him with kisses and asked, “Are you still mad, mommy?”
Normally, my mom guilt would have shifted into overdrive. But not this morning. The reality is, daddy and mommy were both angry with him the night before and with good reason.
Ever since starting school three weeks ago, we’ve had some behavioral issues. Always the more emotional of the trio, he’d been particularly angry and disrespectful. I realized that with the new schedule, he was overtired and overwhelmed. I cut him a little slack. Over the weekend, he was repeatedly put in time-out for back-talking. But yesterday, he pushed it too far. He yelled at our nanny, called her stupid, and threw a chair over.
I rarely discuss discipline issues with our kids because (a) overall they are really good kids, (b) it’s largely their own business and not others, and (c) it makes me look bad. Do you know that feeling? You worry about raised eyebrows if you’re honest about parenting challenges you are having.
This child is a love bug. He is super funny. A couple of nights ago he tried to crawl into bed with us, but I walked him back to his room and put him in bed. A few minutes later, he tried the same thing, and my hubby walked him back to his bed. A few minutes later he came in with his blankey draped over his head as the little midnight wandering ghost. When he got around to my side of the bed, he peeked his eye out from under the blanket and said with a smile, “I brought an extra blanket for you.” Precious.
Yesterday though, he went too far. While we frown upon whiney kids (I have one of those too), we will not tolerate disrespectful children. Yelling at me was punished this weekend. Yelling at our nanny resulted in a more serious response. Last night, he was put in time-out after I talked to our nanny and we removed ALL of his privileges (no leftover birthday cake, swimming, t.v., etc.). Then we prayed about his behavior during bedtime prayers.
We did this with both boys because when one witnessed the other one’s bad behavior, he piled on. We spent time explaining that it is in those times you stand up for the person being treated wrongly and you don’t add to the bad behavior.
We moms struggle with mom guilt all the time. Sometimes it’s for something we should apologize for and work to improve. But often it is for something that is either out of our control or an action that needed to be taken.
My kids got covered in mosquito bites at school – I felt guilty. Why? I didn’t bite them. I didn’t even take them outside. Insect bites do not make me a bad mom.
My kids had a meltdown at the bakery – I felt guilty. Why? I was being kind and taking them for a treat and as a result of a trigger or exhaustion or some other inexplicable reason, they flipped out. It didn’t make me a bad mom.
So when my sweet boy asked if I was still mad, I refused to let the mom-guilt kick in. I simply replied, “No, I’m not mad this morning. I love you and I know that you will work very hard today to be kind and respectful to everyone and not to say bad words or act mean. Today, we get to start all over.”
That’s good advice for all us moms feeling guilty this morning.