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You Make Me Want To Be A Better Person

I want to be a better mother today than I was yesterday. Such a common mantra, it could be a mothering tag-line. Good parenting is hard, and not because the children are difficult. Parenting well is all about holding ourselves accountable to the very qualities we want our children to embody. This is the real work. Not shaping them into who we want them to be, but shaping ourselves into the people we want to be for them.

After a four-day weekend where my son worked harder at avoiding his homework than doing it, I completely lost it with him. I feel heavy with shame for getting so angry. True, leaving so much work for Sunday was very poor planning on my 10-year-old’s part, but it is hardly original. Having five children, I know this is part of the drill. Frustration on my part would be understandable, but my reaction was incredibly disproportionate.

He was stressed and crying and I was angry and unmoved by his tears. After loudly voicing my disappointment and pointing out he caused this by procrastinating, I snapped at him to “buck up” and get down to solving the problem instead of crying like a baby. I am not proud of these words, or the anger with which they were delivered. I wanted to pull them back the moment they hit their mark. Worse yet, my teary-eyed six-year-old daughter came to me and said, her voice shaking, “Mom, don’t you think you’re being a little hard on him?” I felt very, very small seeing myself through her eyes. She was right. I chose to unleash my pent-up frustration. It was a selfish act of personal relief at a cost to everyone around me. More to the point, the source of my anger, as is often the case with anger, was not anyone outside of myself–it’s as simple as that.

Personal accountability is seeing ourselves as we truly are, with a compassionate eye. This is not just a challenge in parenting, but in all of our relationships. It is easier to blame others for our personal failings. Being honest observers of ourselves, of our truest intentions and motivations, is difficult work. The very lesson I should have addressed more calmly with my son, I needed to be reminded of myself by my six-year old daughter. A humble parenting moment that I am grateful for.

I know that I am not perfect and that I will often fall short of being the person I strive to be.  I also know I am loved, I will be forgiven, I will do better, and that I am working hard at it every day. Exactly what I hope I am teaching my children.


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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Of course I apologized right away. But, still feeling bad later when I went up to bed, I kissed each sleeping child and whispered I was sorry again. My daughter replied sleepily, “It’s okay mom, you were just over-tired.” Forgiveness is sweet.

    October 25, 2010

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