Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Mother's Confession

It happened. I don't like it, but I must admit it. I must confess my sin. I must acknowledge my mistake and I must consider how it will effect those I love the most.

Last night, I walked into our basement to find that my four amazing kids had once again turned into powerful tornadoes and destroyed our basement. There were legos, colored pencils, stuffed animals, DVDs, dirty laundry, and other miscellaneous objects strewn about and I have to say that it really did look like a massive F5 storm had just run through our family room! Actually, this scenario happens quite a bit around my house and it happens in various rooms of my home - each of their bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathroom and the family rooms! I think it has to be some conspiracy amongst my children to think of all the ways that they can make a mess. I only wish that their master plan also included an designation to the clean-up crew!

Yesterday, however, was a little different...I had specifically asked/told the kids to pick it up several times. Then, inevitably, I would get distracted and so would they, so the mess was not corrected. When I finally went downstairs to check, I saw just how bad the basement had gotten and I was immediately frustrated. As we all started to pick things up (because now they really knew Mom was irritated and they started helping - hmmm, what was their clue?), I noticed that the curio cabinet where our wedding memories are stored had been tampered with (again!) and I lost it. You can imagine the steam shooting from both my ears as the hair on my head stood up and my face turned red. All I could do was think of screaming a growl-like sound from deep in my stomach. I was so upset! I had discovered my husband's wedding day boutineer crushed and destroyed by our children.

I don't know why, but this was a really big deal to me. You see, I really have very few, if any, items from my childhood. Going into foster care and then spending 6 years in "the system" will do that to a person. I have only a few pictures, cards and the like from my teenage years and even fewer from before the age of 12 years. The things I collected while dating my husband and since we've been married mean the world to me. I know its silly, but I sincerely treasure each and every trinket and memory of my relationship with my husband and this curio holds an extra-special place in my heart. It is the very last thing packed before a move and one of the first things unpacked upon arrival to the new home. I have even told the kids, "This cabinet and the stuff in it was in this house before you were here and it will be here after you grow up and leave this house." (Crazy, huh?) It is really that important to me and they have all been instructed to leave it alone - numerous times.

Up until this year, they've all understood and left the cabinet and wedding memories alone. I'm not sure why, but recently it has become a topic of interest and intrigue, and this time, it meant an item was destroyed. AAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!! What was I to do? I couldn't very well replace the boutineer. I couldn't express how much it had meant to me in a way that the kids could understand. I couldn't save it by putting it back together. All I could do was scream and have an actual phsycial reaction to the loss I was feeling.

The confession...I allowed myself to get way too angry. While I did NOT touch my children in any way, at all (I was far too angry to even consider it...) I yelled and said things to them, out of pure reaction, that I should not have said. I overgeneralized my reaction to the broken flower to other things that I had felt the kids disrespected in our home - our furniture, the walls, their toys, the DVDs and video games, my efforts to serve the family, etc. That little broken boutineer had somehow turned into a representation of me! What?!?!?! That just doesn't make sense.

The kids are kids. They make mistakes and I am supposed to be able to recognize the mistakes, forgive, teach and move on, right? I mean, isn't that what mothering is all about - helping our children to learn from their mistakes and make better choices? That's what the "good moms" do.

After I sat down on the stairs and thought about my reaction (okay, over-reaction) to the broken boutineer, I cried. I cried because the flower was destroyed, but I also cried because I had exemplified a behavior for my children that I was ashamed of. I thought about this interaction for several hours last night and have thought of it several times today. I'm really ashamed of myself, as a mother.

It has occurred to me, though, that my kids love me even when I act like a complete fool. They look up to me and know that I am there to keep them safe. When they fall or get hurt, I am the one they come to for all-healing "kiss my owie, Mommy." I am the one they hug spontaneously and say "I love you, Mom" (or, as Sarah, my 3 year old has recently started to say "I like you Mommy.") I am the one they want to watch them dance or tell them how special they are. I am the one who will find the lost shoe and get their uniform clean before the game. I am Mom.

So, tonight, as I put my kids to bed, I will apologize for getting so upset about a broken flower. I will show them the example of humility and restoration of a relationship. I will admit that even Mommy makes mistakes and that mistakes are okay. I will ask them for their forgiveness for yelling the way I did and I will tell them that it was not okay for me to respond that way.

Hopefully, this will be what they remember. One of the biggest lessons I can teach them is the relationships are important and that when we love someone, we do all we can to make amends when we do wrong. That is the example I want to set. I also want them to learn to forgive and I will forgive my children for breaking the boutineer. It was, afterall, a flower.

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