There I was, screaming at her. Screaming at my beautiful, sweet (then) 4 year old daughter. About a dress. She wanted to wear a super fancy dress and I wanted her to wear a regular every day dress, and we drew our lines in the sand. I was tired, stressed and overwhelmed. Not about a dress I’m sure, just about getting through the day to day. I had to get her dressed and fed, the dogs fed and let out and myself dressed and off to work. I did not have time for an argument about a dress, especially when it was *clearly* an inappropriate dress to wear on a regular day. She was screaming back at me, tears rolling down her red face. Both of us making our arguments and neither of us listening to each other.
After several minutes, I just grabbed her. Grabbed her and hugged her because at that moment I wanted to do everything but. She quickly calmed down and so did I. The rest of the morning went off without a hitch.
I can’t remember what dress she ended up wearing that day. THAT is how unimportant the subject of our disagreement was. I do remember how I felt. I felt sad and angry. I felt ashamed at myself for losing it. But most of all I felt like a failure, not just in my “mom” moment, but also in my career.
I have been a mental health therapist for almost 16 years and much of my work has been with children and their families. People come to me to help them figure out how to make their day to day routines smoother. How to deal with children with significant emotional and behavioral problems. I know all about child development. I know about behavior management. I know some pretty creative ways to reach kids and I know the importance of communication and self-regulation and assertiveness and nurturing and structure and limits and patience. Especially patience.
So, of course I felt like a failure when despite all of my knowledge about children and managing behaviors and letting things that don’t matter go, I resorted to screaming and ineffective parenting. I felt like a fraud.
Sometimes I forget a very simple fact.
I am not perfect. I am human.
I am not always the best mom, or the best therapist, or the best wife or the best friend. Sometimes I am not even particularly good at those things. But I always keep trying and keep learning.
I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning to be kinder to myself. I am learning to allow myself to be human.