Let me tell you a story about my little girl and being the mother I failed to be… I’ve had a rough morning. I’ve already melted down twice. And we’re on our way to a park to play. The other drivers on the road are crazy, there is no apparent entrance to the parking lot I’m trying to find, and I start cursing in the car.
Then, as I pause between sh*ts, E says, “Mama, you can’t say that to me.”
Oh my god. “You’re so right, sweetheart. I shouldn’t say those things to you. And I shouldn’t be yelling. I am so sorry.”
Not skipping a beat, she reassuringly responds, “I know, Mama.”
Now I am crying, feeling the weight of becoming a monster to my child. “Will you please forgive me?”
Calmly, she says, “Yes, I forgive you. Are you sad?”
Me: “Yes, sweetie. I’m very sad.”
E: “When we stop, I will give you a big hug.”
Me: “Ok, thank you. That would be wonderful.”
I park the car and climb into the back seat with her. She gives me a great hug, and I melt into her tenderness.
Then she looks at me straight in the eye and asks, “Should we take some more deep breathses?” She proceeds to lead me through a deep breathing session like we do with her when she’s upset and can’t sleep.
“Do you feel so much better?” she asks.
Yes, I do, dearest little love. I feel better and worse, happy, blown away, proud. On the one hand, I’m reeling at the reality of my own lack of self-control, that I have so openly expressed anger in an unhealthy way, knowing that she is watching my every move. On the other hand, it is clear that my daughter has been learning what we’ve been hoping to teach her for two years, the life tools we’ve tried to impart – even to be able to patiently demand that she deserves my respect.