Saying "I'm sorry". This is essential.
Many people seem to think that because we homeschool, I have been blessed with more patience than the next mom. While I wish this were true, it is so very, very false. I have a daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute battle with not losing my patience and my temper.
This morning, I was trying to get the three kiddos out the door, ironically to go to Mass. I think for all moms, getting out the door in the early morning can be very hectic, to say the least. This is usually the craziest, most stressful part of my day.
I have read many tips on how to make this part of the day easier. First is to prepare the night before, so we set out clothes and pack backpacks and such the night before. Next is to get up earlier. Well, I do this the best that I can. I get up at 5:00 on weekdays so that I can get out for a walk with Kahlua and my friend Jennifer each morning. I get Joshua and Noah up at 6:45 and Veronica up at 7:00. I'm really not willing to get up any earlier or get them up any earlier. Sleep is important too. But despite my efforts, getting three kids out the door can still feel like a hurricane is violently making its way through the house.
How many times do I need to say, "Get your shoes and coat on"? While we have taught our children REPEATEDLY that they need to obey right away, the execution can be quite lacking at times.
What can be more frustrating than trying so hard not to be late and having a child doddle and not listen? After asking Joshua many times to get his shoes and coat on, I discovered him sitting on the floor with Legos in his hands. ERG! He then began to argue with me and yell at me that he was not actually playing with Legos. Oh really? Is that why your shoes aren't on and you have Legos in your hand?!
Now, of course there needs to be some discipline and consequence for his neglect of my instructions and talking to me in such a disrespectful way. However, this does not mean that I should fly off the handle, begin yelling my head off and completely lose my temper. One of the things we are really struggling with right now is teaching Joshua not to be so reactionary and inflammatory when he gets upset. Hmmm. I wonder where he gets that.
After calming down (about twenty minutes later after some more lecturing in a firm voice, but without yelling) , I explained that while his behavior was unacceptable and needed to be addressed, I should have initially reacted more calmly and should not have lost my temper. I said I was sorry for that and asked for Joshua's forgiveness. He forgave me and apologized as well.
Again, this is essential. We must reconcile with our children when we treat them unfairly and when we act in a way that we are teaching them not to behave. This is for three main reasons.
First, if we want our children to apologize and ask for forgiveness when they have hurt someone, we must set this example.
Second, if we don't want our children to yell, say hurtful things or speak disrespectfully to us or to others, we can't do those things ourselves. Children are smart and will see through our hypocrisy. They will not take our instructions seriously if we do not follow them ourselves. Apologizing when we have messed up gives the lessons we teach more merit.
And lastly, we must apologize and ask for forgiveness so that we heal our relationship with our children.
I go through this process with my children often on a daily basis, for it isn't rare that I blow up over something that I shouldn't have. I have had to apologize to a one-year-old that is only confused, frightened and hurt by their mother's temper, tiredness or foul mood.
I have had to apologize to the dog.
This is hard and humbling to admit, but it's true and it's real. My patience and my temper is something that I have had to work on since day one of motherhood. Okay, well maybe day 23. I have made a lot of progress, but it is slow and gradual. This is something about my personality that I will probably have to always work on. And that's okay.
That's what saying "I'm sorry" and asking for forgiveness is for.
PS - All moms are good moms. I am not just saying this as lip service. I
BELIEVE it with all of my heart. I fear that my title for this series,
"Being a Good Mom Means . . ." impliesd that I believe that you are only
a good mom if you do it the way I do. Of course this is not so. There
are infinite good ways to mother. I believe with all my heart that each
mother is given the children God called her to mother and that God gives
the specific children to the specific mother with the specific skills
needed to mother those children. This series is simply supposed to be a
sharing of what I have learned in the past eight years. It is now more
appropriately titled, "For Me, Being a Good Mom Means . . ."