If you've done something you're not proud of during an out-of-control moment, make a concrete plan for what you can do differently next time. Then go apologize to your kids and let them feel the joy of forgiving you.I'm not proud of this, but I do this about daily. I smack Max's hands for pinching his baby sister, I yell at Katie for pestering me, I scream at Isaiah for, well, screaming at one of his siblings. Yeah, I do a lot of apologizing. I can't remember what I did one day, although it was pretty bad...I think I smacked Katie because she was sassing me. (Please don't send child services after me, when I say "smack" I didn't leave a mark. I do realize how awful it is that I've done it, though.) I sure remember the apology, though. She ran to her room with all the righteous indignation of a teenager and slammed the door, and I could hear her sobbing into her pillow. It's embarrassing to admit, but it took me several minutes to calm down before I could go in to her even after I realized how upset she was, I was just still so angry. I did go in and talk with her until she calmed down, apologizing sincerely and snuggling her for a while. I think it was one of those rare times that she truly did seem to forgive me, and we were close for a while afterward.
Let me share Anne's experience from the week:
Thursday evening we were outside doing some much needed spring cleaning. Our grapevine is trying to take over the yard, so we were hacking away the (hopefully) dead branches. When we got to the section next to the garden, Jer and I had a... miscommunication. I wanted to cut the branches off the ground high enough that we could plant alongside the vines; last year it shaded a big chunk of the garden and got tangled in the tomato plants. We had the same goal but were looking at it from two different perspectives. After a heated debate about how "high off the ground" could mean pruning horizontally instead of vertically, he started telling me how I should have stated it more clearly. It was a ridiculous argument, especially in earshot of all of our neighbors, and knowing that Porter was taking it all in made me even more upset. If Jer hadn't been holding Porter, I may have actually chucked the pruning shears at him. I know it's not realistic to never fight in front of your kids, but losing control to the point that I feel like throwing a sharp, heavy object at my husband is not a "healthy" argument. I did apologize to Jer eventually that night, and I talked to Port about it as we were rocking to sleep. It's scary/amazing how much that boy understands. I forget sometimes because he's still not very verbal (unless you count the endless stream of babble with a few "woofs" and "this/thats" thrown in).It's hard being a parent because so much of what you teach your children is by example. I'm mortified when I see Isaiah repeat something I said verbatim, or see Katie use exactly my body language. Even Max says, "You makin' me crazy!" a phrase I have tried to stop using with him because he's picked it up! All week this week I've had How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too! floating around in the back of my mind. (I think the title more than the actual premise of the book fits my purposes, but I still recommend reading it.) I've decided if apologizing so frequently isn't making me overcome my bad behavior, it's at least teaching my children how to apologize and seek forgiveness when they screw up!
Next week: Living Optimistically