If someone is lost in the woods, in that moment, it doesn’t matter how they got there. It matters how the heck they are going to get out. The lesson that can be learned on what not to do, and where not to go, can be assessed later. In the exact moment, in fear and panic, dwelling on the many wrong turns made doesn’t do any good in the outcome.
It was a typical Monday morning at the Fowler farm. I was rushing to get out the door. Madz asked me if I had had a chance to look in her folder as I was packing away her lunch. :::deer in the headlights look::: Nope. #FAIL All weekend came and went and I didn’t. So I pulled it out and came across an incomplete worksheet with a teacher’s note written on the bottom “please complete and return” ummm, where is the date? when is this from? why I haven’t I seen it? In that moment I asked her all of these and what week it was for and her answers weren’t adding up. As I began to explain to her that “yes, you do complete your HW in after school care, but if it says “Parent’s Signature” then I need to see it.” As I was displaying my mommy badge through my words, I could see her brain reeling. Her little Sicilian hands were up and her mouth was open before I could finish my sentence. She went from 7 to 17 instantly and I was not happy about it. I don’t tolerate back talk or disrespect and I firmly reminded her that I would not be spoke to like that. I was upset and she knew it, but the path to how and why was lost.
Instantly she began to cry. Something that she doesn’t do often but it is usually for one of two reasons when she does. Both triggered by the same emotion, passion. She is a deep feeler and I knew instantly that I had struck a nerve with her. Granted, part of me wanted to in that way that I want her to fully understand the boundaries of respect. I wanted her to hear me. I did not, however, anticipate what was to come.
Instead I took a breath and calmly asked her why she was crying, she said “because she didn’t want to get into trouble for not doing her homework in after school.” Okay, fair enough but I’m not buying that. She went on to “accidentally” divulge the real issue in a case of emotional verbal IBS. When finally the words came flying out at me “but mom the last time I did it at home I got it wrong.” CHA-CHING! There it is ladies and gents, the root of the tears and the real cause of the problem. I was stunned and suddenly looking at my 7 yr old self. The one I had been trying to nurture her from becoming.
Here we are trying to raise children to be independent and open; to understand that sometimes things happen. I may be a planner but I have tried to help the girls learn in my many areas of shortcoming. I want them to develop coping mechanisms that are useful. i.e. If we spill milk, no big deal it was an accident. We don’t overreact to accidents or to “failing” as long as we try. We talk out our problems. We don’t get into word-wars over who is right or who is wrong because it doesn’t matter. Nine times out of ten I’m proud to hear Madilyn reiterating to her little sister just this exact sentiment, but today was different. Somehow we/I had missed an important step along the way. How did we get here? What am I doing wrong? What level of perfection has this poor child been built up to?? Was it her? Was it me? Society? All of the above? #FAIL #FAIL #FAIL All of these thoughts running through my head felt like emotional overdrive and suddenly I wanted to cry. Instead I took a deep breath, knelt down to her and said “That is perfectly okay. You’re not always going to get it right. That’s OK. We learn from being wrong.”
Never have I said more true words to someone else that were really meant for myself. I was wrong in so many ways and continue to be. I am guilty of failing over and over again, in all aspects too. Work, home, as a wife, a mom, a friend…you name it. I’m a colorful failure for sure. I get really frustrated with myself when I forget to check a folder or pack a lunch or when I leave her stinky sneakers outside in the rain. Kudos to Brent for always being my backup to help save the day in my absentmindedness and to my friends and family for dealing with me. Today I forgot something else though, a key skill, I forgot how to listen. When I look back at the path that brought us to that moment, I was instantly upset by my lack of listening skills and yet I was doing the exact same thing to her. #FAIL What that lost path brought me to was beautiful though…
I don’t think I have ever had such a meaningful hug from my baby. When we finally met the other eye to eye, settled the score and heard one another, there was the biggest hug I think I have ever received. I thought to myself if I could stay in this moment forever I would. She didn’t pull away, she wasn’t quick to go, she had forgiven my failures and somehow we made it out of the woods.
Now I’m not blind. I know there will be many more moments just like this; but I feel like we built a foundation this morning. I know I will fail over and over a thousand times and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her spunky side, but if I can lead by example in how to redirect my mistakes maybe, just maybe I’ll get something right.