Sometimes I need to start over. Like when I forget a crucial ingredient at a critical step in making what is to be edible deliciousness. It could be fantastic. It should be. But, because I messed up somewhere along the way, it’s not going to turn out wonderfully. So I’ll start over and, this time, do something different that will lead to a more palatable outcome.
I have moments like that in my parenting, too. Plenty of situations that call for a do-over. I don’t seem to hesitate to point my kids’ do-over moments out to them (“Let’s try that again, but this time, please ask in a ‘nice’ voice.”), and I’m trying to be just as vigilant at recognizing my own.
I love the concept; being able to erase the past (minute, hour…year?) and start fresh with a new perspective and a new approach. But it’s not that I want to completely disregard my mistakes and never think of them again. On the contrary, I think of them often. Like when I tossed out a batch of sub-par mayonnaise I made the other day, I wanted it gone but definitely not forgotten. I need to remember that batch so I know what to do differently next time, and the time after that, and for every future batch of mayonnaise I make. Less vinegar, keep stirring.
As a parent, my starting-over points are moment-to-moment. I have daily moments of regret in which I know I didn’t handle a situation well, or I could have responded to my kids differently. OK–if I’m being honest–much, much better. I also make sure I give myself the opportunity to practice my (much, much) better response, by allowing myself to start over. “Hey, I’m really sorry about what I said/ did/ the way I acted. You were frustrated. I was frustrated. You needed me to help you, not to get angry. Can we try this again?” But I don’t want to forget what happened; I need to hang onto the memory of “take 1″ so I can work on improving take 2, 3, 4, 5….
I try to remind myself that making mistakes in my parenting efforts are so normal and very much OK. Mistakes are how I learn, grow, and ultimately become a better mom for my kids. Thankfully, my children are very forgiving and on-board with do-overs. With enough starting over I can change the way I respond to stress. I can have a markedly different day, hour, or minute than the previous one. I have infinite chances to try again; to make changes that take my parenting from passable to really-quite-satisfying. Less vinegar, keep stirring.