This morning my 3 year old made a huge effort to help me with the morning routine and tried an activity beyond her current ability. She was so excited when she came to tell me and show me her work. My reaction: I first saw the mess she had made and how my work-load had effectively increased. So instead of praising her and then adding a little “maybe we could do it even better this way” clause. I scolded her pretty harshly. I wasn’t even really mad and even as I was admonishing her I wanted to stop, instead of which I just carried on and on till my husband came in.
The worst of it all was, when I apologized to her and told her that I made a mistake and she really did a great job of helping, she immediately forgave me. In fact these were her exact words, “It’s ok mommy, we all make mistakes, we should just not make them again. I love you so much”.10 minutes down the line she had even forgotten the incident, and was giggling away at my pathetic attempts to make her giggle and make-up.
Sadly, I know I can’t take back what I said to her and I can’t seem to forgive myself or forget my hurtful behaviour. In this case she was way more mature than me. What she said to me when I was ranting at her is something I’ll never forget ” Mummy, please don’t be angry and scold me, I made a mistake by mistake. I promise I’ll be careful next time”. I just hope I haven’t scared her off from trying to learn new skills in the future. Though I tell her that no child is ‘bad’ and only their behaviour may be ‘bad or unacceptable’ at times, today I truly feel like a bad mommy.
I think I can apply today’s learning to my professional life as well. As my guru always said “respond (to a situation) don’t react”. It’s only when I react that I end up regretting my actions or words. I really need to start contemplating and responding instead.
Have you ever reacted when you should have responded? How do parents manage their guilt when they so obviously mess up with a parenting incident? (Or am I the only one? Feeling wretched now.) Why can’t we seem to forgive others and ourselves as easily as children?