I recently told someone about this blog and she said, "Do you tell the truth?"  Meaning, do I share all the stories, good and bad?  Yes, I think I do.  Lately, it seems as though it has been the proud parenting moments that have inspired me to write - well, today is my day to share a not so proud moment...

So, I have mentioned before that I am working on letting my kids feel their emotions - disappointment, anger, sadness - without trying to fix or rescue them.  I understand the importance of letting them learn to self sooth, and to know that I have faith that they can handle what they are feeling.  Well today I totally sabotaged this experience for my son....

We take the kids up skiing on Sunday mornings.  It is a six week ski lesson program and today was week 5.  When we got up to the parking lot, Ian really dragged his feet and didn't want to get his gear on.  My daughter, on the other hand, popped right up and began to get ready.  While my husband helped Rowan, I let Ian know that I was ready to help him...  He wasn't having it, "I don't want to go" was what he said.

Okay, I thought, here is my chance to use those skills...  So I went to the back of the car and told my husband to take Rowan up to the ski area, I was going to sit in the car with Ian, and give him some space and time to work it out.  We had an hour before lessons started, plenty of time.

Once Ben and Rowan started to walk away from the car, Ian's meltdown began to escalate.  I have a hard time remembering now exactly what the problem was to begin with, but it quickly became about wanting daddy to help him get ready.  Let him have his emotions, I kept saying to myself, don't get dragged in...  I told him I was happy to help him get his gear on, to let me know when he was ready.  He just continued to cry and whine, saying he wanted daddy to come back, that he didn't want to do ski lessons, that Rowan could stay up there by herself...  This went on for a looooong time.

Then something happened.  Something inside of me was triggered and I snapped.

I reached back and took a firm grip on his leg and I said, in my mean mommy voice, "KNOCK IT OFF!  You are acting like a spoiled kid!"  There it was, my breaking point.  I could feel the heat in my body, the lack of control.  I hate that feeling...  Ian, of course, was sent into a much bigger meltdown - crying in disbelief and hurt.  "I'm not acting like a spoiled kid!"  He hollered at me.

Did I retreat?  No.  I did get a bit calmer, but I launched into what I thought he needed to hear, "Kids that are spoiled only think about themselves.  You expect daddy to come back down here after he has already walked all the way to the ski hill.  You expect Rowan to wait around up there because you want daddy.  You don't care that I am sitting here waiting to help you as soon as you're ready - you are only thinking about you and what you want..."  Balh, blah, blah, blah....

Oh man, he was mad - and why shouldn't he be?  I am the mom, the one who needs to be the adult, emotionally available to my kids, and I met his meltdown with my own meltdown.  I was overwhelmed by my inability to control the situation and I snapped.  Did it help him do better?  No.  Did it help him learn to self sooth?  No.  He was hurt and he was now mad at me.  There was no self reflection there - just anger that mommy could be so mean.

Eventually, he crawled into the back of the van and started to get his gear on.  He didn't ask for help, just quietly got ready.  I gave him some space and after a few minutes I climbed back there too and said, "I am sorry I got so mad at you.  It didn't help you feel any better and it was a mistake for me to act like that.  Can we hug it out?"  He then turned to me and fell into my arms.  I could have cried at the forgiveness I felt in that little embrace.  What a gift he is to me.

One of the mantras of Positive Discipline is that mistakes are opportunities to learn.  This is true for kids and parents alike.  I have carried a knot in my belly all day because of the shame I feel about letting my emotions get the best of me.  I want my kids to know that I can handle what they bring me....  That I can stay strong when they need me.  But the truth is, I am human.  And humans are emotional beings.  I did share with Ian about times when I was little and my mom would get mad at me, and how that made me feel.  I let him know that I work really hard not to act that way.  I think these shares are more for me than for him....

So what did I learn from this mistake?  Next time I feel myself getting to that trigger point I need to step away from my child.  Today the thought crossed my mind to get out of the car for a few minutes, to take a moment away from him.  I wonder about how things would have turned out if I had followed that instinct...

The good news is, I'll continue to have plenty of opportunities to practice my skills...

Smiles ~ Casey

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