I'm having a bad mother day.
It's like this: I've been writing notes back and forth with my oldest son's teacher, figuring out what happened with a particular assignment. We (meaning I) thought he did it correctly, but she meant for something different to occur. She's been generous enough to still award him the credit, and I am incredibly thankful for that.
It hit me about an hour ago that none of this would have happened if I would just listen to my son, credit him with a little more competence, consider his reckoning over my own every once in a while.
Last week, he had started to say that he didn't think what I told him about the assignment was right, but I cut him off like I tend to do, in that impatient, condescending tone that I'm rarely even conscious of. "Yes," I said to him, "it's right here on the list. This is one of the books."
And he nailed his role, the dutiful, obedient, unquestioning son who believes I know what I'm talking about. Who assumes that if we disagree, he must be the one who's wrong. Or maybe even worse--who, even when he suspects he's right, goes along with my way because he withers under my disapproval.
I feel wretched.
It's true that what I told him to do was exactly what the assignment stated, but he'd suspected that it wasn't what his teacher actually meant. So he read the wrong book, completed the wrong quiz. And here we are. Sigh.
And if that weren't enough, Elle has a gash on the back of her head that I'm hoping doesn't need stitches. She was balancing on a mountain of couch cushions piled too close to the cement slab of our fireplace hearth. One moment she's giggling, the next there's this alarming red soaking the back of her shirt in large splotches, this fluid warm and wet on my arms as I'm holding her and she's screaming and I can't figure out where all the blood is coming from.
She's fine now; she was actually back to bouncing on her toes and talking to her dolls in that sing-songy voice within fifteen minutes or so. But I'm still shaken, thinking why wasn't I paying closer attention, and why do I even let them pile those cushions up, and what kind of mother am I anyway?
So I'm having a bad mother day. I'm very thankful that children are so resilient, and that mine have survived thus far in spite of my inadequacies. But it's unnerving, isn't it?--to be humming along, thinking I'm a good parent, only to realize just how flagrant my failures can be.
Repost: A Letter to My Teenage Self
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