I often hear about how moms “lose it” with their kids and then feel terribly guilty afterwards. I know that feeling…the one I get when my patience is at its capacity and I end up flipping my lid over something trivial (or not so trivial). Sometimes I lose it, too. I just don’t feel guilty for it.
Guilt is something that weighs on a person; a burden that someone bears long after the “incident” has passed. I know I make mistakes, but I don’t carry them around with me.
I think it’s because I know I’m trying hard everyday. I make a conscious effort to build a strong relationship with my kids and meet their emotional & behavioral needs. And when there are specific issues to address, I have a supply of positive discipline tools from which to choose.
But no one is perfect…everyone loses it from time to time, especially when we are doing something as emotional and personal and consistently difficult as parenting. The journey is filled with obstacles and frustrations. A parent is bound to lose it once in a while. It happens.
Mistakes are in the past, though, right? And it doesn’t do any good to dwell on the the past. What I know I can do is focus on the present and look toward the future. I ask myself, “Where am I going?” and, “What can I do right now to get there?” I can use my mistakes to help guide me in my desired direction.
First I recover; this is the “focusing on the present” part. Though I don’t feel guilty after I lose my composure and yell at my kids, I do feel sorry. And I tell them that. Focusing on the present means taking the current opportunity to model heartfelt apologies and empathy. It also demonstrates to my kids acceptance and self-forgiveness. “I’m so sorry I yelled before…that sure didn’t help anything. I felt very frustrated and that’s OK. But by yelling about it, I took my frustrations out on you, and that’s not OK. You must have felt hurt and probably scared of me. I’m sorry for that.”
When we’ve recovered in the present, we can look to the future. My kids and I work together on how to handle things differently next time (and, speaking realistically, there will be a next time). We come up with a plan for making different choices, for making positive changes, for choosing our desired direction.
And we try again. I try again. I keep on trying every day, after avery mistake, and every moment of lost composure. I try again and again. And I even get somewhere! But I couldn’t get anywhere if I was carrying a load of guilt along with me. So while I do “lose it,” I also lose the guilt. It’s much too heavy for my journey.