As mothers we do our best to try and protect our children. We give them love, nurture them, and help them thrive. We do everything in our power to shield our children from sadness and pain. Each time either one of my toddlers gets hurt they run to me to make things better. Whether there is blood or the optical illusion of it, my children want my arms around them to make them feel better. That is until I am the one who causes the pain. The other day I hurt my son’s feelings and a piece of my heart shattered into a thousand pieces.
The four year old, Chase, was upset with his one and a half year old brother,Wesley, for whatever reason; a toy was taken away, he had something the four year old wanted, or merely the simple fact the he was even born. It is usually one of those three things that sets things off. Chase decided it would be a good idea to push his little brother over. This of course resulting in big crocodile tears from the little guy and mama bear suddenly had her claws out.
I can tolerate a good amount from my son before I spontaneously com-bust. What I do not tolerate in my house is being mean. I do understand that pushing, wrestling, and fighting is what siblings do. Yet I also feel it is important to correct behaviors that may cause harm. It wouldn’t be the first time the baby “fell” into the door. As I tell Chase, mama sees everything!
I reacted this particular day before taking a moment to think. I yelled at Chase, most likely roaring like a mama bear would do, and grabbed him to put him in a time out. Now it wasn’t just Wesley that was crying but Chase, and deep down I had to stifle back my crying. I was frustrated and angry at Chase for his behavior and in that first moment I wanted him to know it.
After the storm had settled in the house I went to Chase so we could talk about what happened. I try be sure we always discuss why he received his time out now that he is getting old enough to understand what feelings are and how our actions affect others. I told him that what he did made me sad. I asked him how he would feel if someone treated him the way he treated his brother. After the conversation life went back to normal. That is until Chase said something to me that made me feel like I had gotten slapped in the face:
Chase: “Mama, I made you sad?”
Me: "Yes, I am disappointed in you. I don’t like when you treat your brother like that. It hurts my feelings.”
Chase: “Well, I am sad too. You hurt my feelings too when you yelled at me.”
There it was. I hurt his feelings. Me, mama, I made him sad. Yes, he is four. Yes, he can manipulate. Yes, it is my job to set limits and discipline him. I believe in limits and boundaries for children. But "this" moment, "those" words, I knew they were real. It doesn't matter how it happened, it is that it happened at all. I was the one to hurt my son. Even worse, is when I realized that this would not be last time it happens.
I have to remember that as his mother I need to teach him. In some of those tough moments there will be times that feelings will get hurt. What I would like to take from this is that maybe in the times that I feel like I am ready to "roar", that I take a moment to stop and wait before I respond. I don't want to regret my actions due to reacting too quickly. Much easier said than done and I already know this is something that I have to work on.
I know that there will be several moments to come that will be challenging for our relationship. There will be stages and ages which will be harder than others. We will grow close, and there will be times in which we fall apart. Any relationship takes work, effort, love and strength. I know that as his mother I will always have to apply all of these things to our relationship.
Perhaps this is about forgiveness. Him forgiving me, me forgiving him, and possibly the most difficult: me forgiving myself.
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