It was day four into the move, but it felt more like day forty-five. A sea of brown boxes filled the living room, and it had been a week since any contact with the outside world. To say we were all tired and grouchy may be the biggest understatement of the year.
I was trying to paint the boys new bedroom a beautiful shade of lazy blue. If only I could be lazy myself. My first mistake was attempting to do such a thing with four kids under foot. I often take on these kinds of ridiculous scenarios as some sort of inner parenting challenge. Am I capable of doing it all? Moving, unpacking, painting, settling before my partner walks in the door that night. I wear it like a badge of honor when I'm done, thinking I have some super parent status when really it's probably just stupidity to begin with.
The kids were dying to help paint. I let them help me paint a dresser the week before which was a comedy of errors, so this time I said no. Josiah has his own strategy though, he kind of hangs around, lurking, reminding me of his interest, while the other kids without the same determination scatter to play. I must admit, it does work sometimes.
After meticulous taping and drop cloth laying, I spilled some blue paint on a baseboard.
"Josiah, can you run and get me the wipes in my bedroom?" I asked, because wipes are the secret solution to almost every problem in the world. He ran off, finally getting a job closer to being able to actually paint.
"They aren't here!" he yelled. Now my children rarely are able to find anything I send them to hunt for and yet I always send them. We joke in our family that I am the family finder, able to spot the needle in the haystack or in plain sight on the bed. I gave about fifteen more instructions yelled to the next room with no luck.
"Mom, they are not there." He said plain as day.
"Ugh! Josiah! Come on now!" I returned in my most pissy, annoyed voice feeling the weight of having to do everything for everyone all the time. I stomped down the ladder and into my bedroom to prove him wrong. I looked exactly where I told him they would be, no wipes. I looked under the bed, no wipes, under the clothes, no wipes. I instantly remembered they were in the kitchen. He looked at me, turned around and walked away.
I found them and went back to painting feeling like a total jerk. Stomping around to prove a kid wrong, to shame him? Really? I found him downstairs playing Legos.
"Oh Josiah, I'm sorry I was such a jerk. You were totally right, I didn't believe you and then I was mean to try to prove you wrong." I said. "It's okay mom." He said plain as day once again.
I thought of all the moments, even small ones when I have dismissed feelings, given a curt answer or just even put out a vibe of annoyance. I started to reflect how many more times I should apologize, but sometimes do not, because of my position of power as a parent.
I tell myself it's okay, because kids are tiring and because I have already given so much; like somehow I deserve to respond that way every now and then. The truth is they know, and they are very gracious, but I don't want to be that kind of parent. I want them to know how to accept responsibility for their own moments of unkindness; I want them to know how to say they're sorry and make amends. I want kids to know adults make mistakes and that we can all be forgiven, even the fumbling family finder.
Do you apologize to your kids; do you find it easy or hard? How do you handle your own mistakes in parenting and relationships with your kids? Please tell us in the comments.