Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Lesson

So tonight we are learning a lesson.
And I am heartbroken.

Maybe it's the hormones or maybe it's the realization that I cannot protect my baby girl. Whatever it is I cannot shake it.
Yesterday RJ went to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. She did amazing. She sat still and didn't complain and was the picture of perfection. As a reward at the end of the appointment she got to pick two prizes out of the treasure box. She picked a beaded bracelet and a slap bracelet (I cannot believe they are still making these things). She was so proud to wear them back to school and tell all her friends about her trip to the dentist.
When I picked her up yesterday she immediately burst into tears saying she lost the beaded bracelet. As we retraced our steps it came out that she had dropped it and another child picked it up and declared it was hers.
Well, I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I immediately called the dentist on his cell phone (granted the dentist happens to be my father) and explained what happened and asked him to grab us another bracelet before he went home for the day and we can get it from him on Thanksgiving. No problem. Mommy saved the day. Right?
Well, this morning RJ was insisting on wearing the slap bracelet to school.
"Baby I don't think it's a good idea to take the bracelet to school today. Remember you lost the other one yesterday?" I tried to reason with her.
"Well, if I lose this one we will just call Papa Roo and he can get me another one!" She matter-of-factly replied.
And there it was. I realized what I had done. I had inadvertently taught her that there are no consequences in the world.
So we had a big talk about the harsh reality that when we lose things they can't always be replaced. In the end she made the decision to still wear the bracelet to school.
Well tonight as hubs and I were putting her to bed she burst into tears saying she didn't have her bracelet. Apparently one of the children at school had told RJ that if she gave her the bracelet then she would "be my best friend". And so because RJ really liked this little girl she immediately handed over her prized possession in hopes of a friendship. When the sun had set though she realized what she had done and was devastated that she no longer had her beautiful shiny rainbow slap bracelet.
I held it together in her room and we discussed the important lessons to be learned.
1. If someone will only be your friend because you give them things then they are not really a friend
2. When we give things away they are no longer ours
3. If someone asks us for something (or to do something) we are not obligated to say "yes" and we have not only the ability but also the right to say "no"
4. There are consequences for our actions
She went to bed heartbroken. I came downstairs heartbroken. Every fiber in my being wants to fix this. How easy would it be to run to the dollar store tomorrow and buy her a pack of 50 slap bracelets? But I know I can't or the lessons will be lost only to be learned again at a later date. And who knows what the stakes would be next time. We are probably getting off easy with just a slap bracelet.
And so I sit here and I write this and I am sobbing. So what are my lessons?
1. I have to let the world hurt her
2. I cannot protect her and shield her from everything
3. This is building character
And I wonder how much worse this will get as she gets older and enters real school? How in the world will I ever be able to handle the real heartbreaks that I know are coming?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The MOM-ent

It started with a Facebook post by one of my friends. I had just gotten started at work when I decided to quickly check my Facebook account. I noticed a video with a title saying " What made this strong mother cry". My friend had shared the video with a note saying "all my mom friends need to watch this". I decided to tune in to see what it could be. It started as interviews of several different moms asking them what they wished they did better as moms. A lot of the answers mentioned having more patience or spending more time with their children. It tapped in to every insecurity and regret that I have about being a mom. It felt like each one of them could have been me.
Once they had interviewed a handful of moms they then started to interview their children. The question posed to the kids was something along the lines of "What do you love the most about your mom?" The answers were astounding. The children saw none of the shortcomings or flaws that their own moms thought were so glaring. They didn't feel unloved or uncared for. They simply loved their mothers for the beautiful human beings that they were. Well by this point I was starting to tear up a little bit (pregnancy hormones not helping at all at this point).
Then, to top it all off they brought the moms back in and  showed them the videos of what their own children had said about them. At this point all the moms were melting into puddles of tears and I was uncontrollably sobbing. My mascara was running down my face and I could barely breathe. It took about 15 minutes for me to regain my composure. I tried to salvage what I could of my makeup and was able to finally focus and get back to work. (Duly noted that I will have to be more careful with what I watch on FB from now on.)
I couldn't stop thinking about the video though. I kept thinking about how hard we are on ourselves always striving to be the perfect moms and how we can never reach our own standards. It's sad that we place these unreachable expectations on ourselves and constantly live our lives feeling like we have failed in one way or another. I wondered if my children could see what a failure I was or if they just saw me as their beautiful, loving mother.
So the next morning on the way to school I decided to chance it and see what RJ really thought about me and my parenting skills.
"Baby, why do you love Mommy?" I bravely asked.
She thought for a moment while she formulated an answer. (I held my breath wondering what she would say.)
"Well," she said. "You do so many things for me."
My heart swelled. My mind raced. She noticed! All these thankless tasks, all my heart and soul poured into everything I do for her.....she really did appreciate me!!!
As my eyes welled up with tears I pushed it farther.
"Like what kind of things do I do?"
"You take me places and make me things like dinner." She paused for a moment.
A single tear began to trickle down my face as I began to embrace my success.
"But Mommy?"
"Yes baby?"
"Sometimes you really need to calm down and just do what I say.....that would be better."
And in a flash my moment was gone and I began to laugh at the absurdity.

I realized that one lost temper or missed soccer game isn't enough to scar my children. They don't think twice about the things that I obsess over (lose sleep over even). They know that Mommy loves them and cares for them and does her best. They've never even questioned it. So why do I torment myself over every harsh word, every perceived failure? We are all so hard on ourselves- the condition of being a woman I guess. But maybe just maybe I can remember this moment and put it all back into perspective.
They get it. Why can't we?