During the period of introspection before and after writing yesterday’s post, I happened to pick up a little book of quotes from Mister Rogers. Jack bought it for me when he was on a trip with his grandparents, knowing that I love Mister Rogers with abiding devotion that some people only save for their Lord.
I thought about Jack picking out the little book. I remembered him presenting it to me when he returned from his trip, how proud and thoughtful he was about it.
He had written in the front cover, “To Mom and Daddy. Jack. Love.”
I opened it to this page, which I thought was appropriate for the particular moment in my life:
“. . . in the long, long trip of growing, there are stops along the way. It’s important to know when we need to stop, reflect, and receive. In our competitive world, that might be called a waste of time. I’ve learned that those times can be the preamble to periods of enormous growth.”
These words seemed particularly wise to me. Maybe I’m on the brink of growing and learning as a mom.
What I did stop and reflect on was trying to see and feel things from Jack’s point of view when he is having a tantrum. Usually, I am so blind with my own anxiety and rage during his episodes, that it is hard for me to emphasize much with what he is going through.
He must be so frustrated. He might even feel estranged from the love of his mom which at times probably does not feel all that unconditional.
Yikes. It sounds awful to admit that. But it’s true.
Poor Jack is such a guinea pig for me. Some things we have gotten spot on, but for the most part it is a huge game of trial and error when it comes to parenting him. There is a lot that I have gone through with him to which I will not have to subject Emily.
Being a type A perfectionist, it galls me that I’ve made mistakes as a mom, and to know that I will make even more. Often these mistakes are made out of anxiety on my part which exacerbate Jack’s temperament.
Taking the time to stop and think, like Mister Rogers advised, is definitely key. I’m always in such a hurry to get stuff done– finish bath time, make a balanced dinner, make lunches, clean the coffee pot, find educational crafts, get the kids to the playground, etc.
My rushing to make sure that my kids are immaculate, nourished, and entertained makes Jack crazy! He hates being rushed, and yet I have this compulsion to get stuff accomplished.
When I stop and think about it, I’m not sure what difference it would make if my kids skipped a bath, or if we ate cereal for dinner once in a while to avoid this dynamic.
So, I am going to try to stop and breathe and be more aware of the opportunities for learning and growing.
What parenting mistakes have you made, and how have you learned to become aware of them? What do you think about when you take the time to reflect on parenting your child?