I failed again yesterday. I wrote a blog post on giving myself grace on Thursday and on Friday, I woke up to find myself in almost instant frustration.
Gus said “no” a few too many times. I caught myself telling him “no” and I began to dig in. “He says no because you tell him ‘no’. He wouldn’t say it all the time if you didn’t say it all the time.” Each time he said “no”, I dug in a little harder, repeating this thought in my head.
And, we had a rotten day. Tired. Frustrated. I seriously doubted my parenting abilities once again.
I saw down for a few minutes in the evening– to catch my thoughts or maybe just to check out. I was reading posts on my favorite parenting forum. This post in particular was advice to someone new. One part read something along the lines of “Shaming is not okay. Shaming your kids is not healthy. And don’t shame yourself either.” Great advice, I thought. I don’t want to shame my kids– I know that’s not going to teach them or help them grow into healthy adults.
Gus walked over to me. “No,” he said.
“There it is again. I wish he’d say ‘yes’ instead. This is all my fault. Don’t you remember when he said ‘yeah’? Now you can’t stop saying ‘no’ and he can’t stop saying ‘no’.
Wait. Go back. When he said ‘yeah’ all the time? Can’t stop saying ‘no’? He went through a ‘yeah’ phase. And an ‘all done’ phase. A few days ago was the ‘ma’ phase. And the very first one was the ‘papa’ phase. This is how he learns a new word. Don’t even Reed and Lena do the same thing? Repeating it and using it until they understand it?”
It hit me. It was not my fault. Sure, I do tell him “no” a bit too often when I could try something more directive. But, I had blamed myself and lived my day shaming myself over and over again.
Where did we get yesterday? No where. I don’t think we took a step back, but no forward progress was made. If anything, I dug my heels a bit deeper into the mud of mistakes and shame I am trying to wade out of.
Why share this? Why be honest and raw in such a public place? I am not alone. So many of us fail to give ourselves grace when we need it the most. Or perhaps we heap the shame and frustration on someone else. If I(or my spouse) didn’t do xyz, my child would not do this bad behavior. Maybe you are right and there is some truth to that. So begin to stop doing xyz. Parent yourself with the same grace that you want to give your child. And that means gently reminding yourself when you do xyz. GENTLY.
Today, we began a new day. Gus told me “no” and I kissed him. I asked him if he wanted to eat breakfast and as he started to say “no”, I enthusiastically said “yeayeayeah!” and we ran over to his seat. “Yeayeayeah!,” he repeated.
And today, we will mess up again. I will say “no”. Gus will say “no”. It’s very likely I’ll even begin to shame myself again. But, I will begin my day here knowing that mistakes are okay, shaming is not, and that I want our house to be full of grace.