Most nights, I fall asleep thinking about the things I could have done better for my kids that day. Once I’ve finished reliving all of my mistakes, I often starting think about what I am going to do better tomorrow. I’ll yell less. I’ll put my phone away and be more present. I won’t get worked up about completely pointless things. I’ll be an all around better mom.
Some nights, I even get out of bed and tip-toe into my big kids’ room to think about it all. I sit on each of their beds and play with their hair while they sleep or tuck their little toes back under the blankets, as if a few acts of kindness might make up for the ways I have failed them that day.
In my perfect world, I would be the perfect mom, but that isn’t the world I live in. I am sleep-deprived and stressed about work– not that these are excuses– and I often find myself short on patience. So, I am a mom who makes a lot of mistakes, who raises her voice too often.
I totally hate that. Everyday I wish I could give my kids more, that I could be better.
But lately, I’m realizing there is something my kids need way more than they need a perfect mom: they need a mom who knows how to say sorry.
Sometimes, I get caught up in this idea that, if I want my kids to respect and obey me, they need to believe I’m never wrong.
I don’t want my kids to obey at all costs. I want my kids to think for themselves and to make good choices because they realize what is best for them and because they have been raised to be kind and selfless. I want them to see their faults, to admit their flaws and to learn from their mistakes.
The only way my kids are going to learn these things is if I teach them, and the best way I can teach them is to model the behavior.
So, I have to start apologizing more.
Have you ever done it? Have you ever looked into your baby’s eyes and realized you caused the pain you saw there? Have you ever owned up to it, said you were wrong, and asked for forgiveness? It certainly isn’t easy, but it is so humbling.
I’m floored every single time because when I do something hurtful and say I’m sorry, my kids are quick to forgive. My oldest rushes to give me a hug and kiss, to tell me she loves me and she forgives me. And my middle child, well, by the time I’ve gotten myself right and apologized, she rarely remembers she was mad at me in the first place.
My kids are naturally so much better at the nitty gritty of maintaining relationships than I am. Sure, they fight over their dolls and cry over bathtime, but I’m convinced they know better than I do about how to show love to their family, how to patch things up after a mistake.
I think I could learn a thing or two from how quick they forgive me when I say I’m sorry. Maybe I need to be a little easier on myself, to cut back on the habit of ruminating on my mistakes and forgive myself as easily as they forgive me. I’m not there yet. I’m still getting hung up on my mistakes, letting them ruin my day. But if I know one thing for sure, it’s that all of my shortcomings are giving me plenty of opportunity to practice saying I’m sorry, to show my kids that being a good person isn’t about never messing up. It’s about learning to ask for and accept forgiveness.