Falling Apart, Growing Together

I just finished a four day ADVANCED training with the Positive Discipline Association on Sunday.  Yes, ADVANCED.  I put that word in caps to highlight that it was a big deal.  I am working towards being able to lead trainings for people who want to teach Positive Discipline to others, as well as being able to teach the principles of Positive Discipline to teachers in schools.  I have worked hard and stretched A LOT to get to the point of being qualified to participate in this training.  I am proud of what I bring to parents and the experiences I give them to see parenting through a different lens.

So you'd think that being qualified for this ADVANCED training, I would be a supermom, right?  That my kids are so well-behavied that I hardly have to work at the parenting stuff?  That of course I have it all together...

Ha.

I would like to share that story of a not so proud parenting moment that happened just yesterday with my sweet daughter.  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that my 9 year old can trigger me at the drop of a hat.  I'm not sure why this is, I just chalk it up to mother/daughter relationships being intense.  She is my teacher.  She is my mirror.  Sometimes it gets ugly...

So yesterday when the kids got home from school the challenge began.  She was extremely emotional and when I was unable to anser any of her questions to her satisfaction, she fell apart.  Then she fell apart again when I suggested she may be hungry.  Then she fell apart again when I said no, candy is not a snack option.  Then she fell apart again because I suggested fruit or veggie might be what her body needs...  It when on and on.  Her glaring at me, eyes filling with incredulous tears, then stomping away with an exasperated cry of frustration.

Lovely.

To my credit, I did manage to stay calm, taking deep breaths to maintain my center and presence.  For a while, anyways.

Both kids had agreed to take care of their weekly room cleaning after school as well.  I had been gone all weekend (Remember?  That ADVANCED training??) so I had given them a choice to get it done Sunday with Auntie Jaime, or Monday after school.  They both chose Monday.  Now it was time to follow through.

To my surprise, mu daughter had begun this process.  She had managed to figure out a snack that worked for her, and after she ate, she calmed down and went to work on her room.  After all the turmoil of the past hour, I was hoping for a quiet lead up to dinner.  When a neighborhood friend knocked on the door I let the kids know that we wouldn't be having any friends in the house...

It was then that I noticed my daughter skip through the living room and through the garage to play outside.  I went upstairs to make sure she had finished her job, and low and behold, her doll clothes were all over her bed.  I opened up her window and kindly said, "Hey babe, you're not finished in here."

"Yes I am, that stuff needs to stay out."

"Babe, please come and finish your job."

"No."

"Please come in and finish this up."

"NO!"

Hello trigger.

"Come in NOW."  Less kindness, more firmness this time.  I flipped.  I was embarrassed and shocked that we had gotten to the point that she thought she could stand in the middle of the road and "defy" me.  Yes, I was pissed.

She came in the house, stomping her way up the stairs, getting ready to tell me what she thought.  As she started I met her half way and totally lost it.

"How DARE you talk to me like that!"  Nice modeling, mama.

"You have been rude and disrespectful to me from the moment you got home.  I stay calm and gave you space to fall apart over and over again.  Then you are out in the middle of the street saying no to me like I don't matter???"

I knew I had gone over the edge, that I went  to my scary mom place, by the look in her eyes.  DAMMIT!!!!  I had lost it and my child was looking at me in fear.

She burst into tears and ran to her room.  I went into my room and took some deep breaths.  How had  I let myself go there?  The wave of shame and guilt washed over me like a tidal wave.  I had lost control.

After  few minutes I went into my daughters room.  She had put away the doll clothes and was lying on her bed.  I crawled in next to her and she curled up like a baby and let me hold her.  This is not my snuggly child and here she was, giving herself to me to cradle and love.

"You scared me," she said.

"I know.  I am so sorry I talked to you like that.  I feel awful and ashamed that I made you feel that way.  I will catch myself the next time and find somewhere to calm down."

More snuggle time.  She just let me hold on to her.  It was tender and sweet.

"Mom?  I'm sorry that I was hard this afternoon too.  I'm sorry for how I treated you."

Oh, sweet child...

"So I guess we both have some things to work on..."  I said, kissing the top of her head.

We stayed like that for a while, not talking.  I thought about how good it felt to be holding her this way.  She doesn't often give me this level of intimacy.  I thought about how our conflict was what brought us to this point.  I felt so much love being shared between the two of us, it felt like a current cycling through us both.  I realized that I had begun to feel grateful.  Grateful for the opportunity to connect and embrace and love on each other...  Had I not fallen apart, this moment would not have occurred.  I ended up feeling closer to my daughter than I had felt in a long time...

Mistakes truly are opportunities to learn.  Mistakes are opportunities to grow.  Mistakes are opportunities to reconnect and love...  So although it was my great pleasure to be a part of the ADVANCED training, don't be fooled into thinking that translates into no longer making mistakes...  I make plenty.

:)

Casey