"I'm sorry I yelled at you. I shouldn't have yelled. I don't like to raise my voice at you. Do you know why I raised my voice?"
"Because you were frustrated. Because I didn't listen."
"Yes, that's exactly right. But I still shouldn't have yelled at you, so I am sorry for doing that."
This is a conversation CK and I have had a few times this week. The same conversation. Which means I've had to apologize to her multiple times this week for raising my voice. For yelling. For losing my cool.
It has been a rough week around these parts, y'all.
Blame it on her skipping her nap on both Saturday and Sunday and not going to bed until after 10:00pm Sunday night after we got in from being out of town. Blame it on the full moon. Blame it on her being three.
No matter what I blame it on, this week has still given me a run for my money.
She's thrown fit after fit, been an emotional wreck. Been obsessive-compulsive about the craziest things. She's been defiant, making bad choices, and refusing to listen to T and me.
We've taken away almost all privileges, taken away her most treasured "friends" in her bed, and even had to lock her in her room at 4:00am this morning after she refused to go back to bed and was having an absolute meltdown in the hallway, keeping all of us awake.
I have made a lot of mistakes this week as a mama. Which mostly come in the form of me losing my own temper and yelling at her in the heat of the moment.
I really don't like to raise my voice with her - I don't feel like it accomplishes anything, and since we're always telling her not to scream/yell when she's frustrated, I feel like I should model restraint and better communication.
But a mama can only take so much.
And sometimes I think it's okay for her to see that I, too, have a breaking point. That her behavior can be so frustrating. And I'm always honest with her about my feelings and emotions. The girl literally talks from the moment she wakes up 'til the moment she falls asleep, so sometimes I look right at her and say, "CK, I love you, but I need a little break for a minute." Or if I'm going out with girlfriends or if T and I have a date night, I tell her it's because sometimes mamas need to do things without their kids.
And when I lose my cool with her, I always, always apologize and look her in the eyes and tell her that I am not perfect. That I am sorry. That I am constantly trying to do better, to be better for her.
Parenting is tough, y'all. And I can't remember who it was, but someone told me something awhile back that resonated with me. That this stage of parenting is like a dictatorship, requiring so much discipline. Constantly saying no. Time outs. Tears. Frustrations. Consequences. Rules. More tears.
We will one day reap the benefits of this tough time. As long as we set the ground rules, lay the boundaries, make sure our children know that we are in charge, and also that we do all of these things because we love them and care about them... One day, we will be able to step back, step aside, step away from being so dictator-ish and put on a new hat - as a coach, a facilitator, a mentor.
And then one day - someday - when all this hard work pays off - then we can be friends.
My mama is one of my very best friends. I cherish our relationship, and know it is only what it is because of the work she put in throughout my childhood. She didn't give in, didn't let me have what I want. She let me cry, let me make mistakes. She even made mistakes herself, and apologized for them. She was always there - for rules, consequences, rewards, hugs, punishments, celebrations.
She was always my mama, and always will be. But now - now she's also my friend.
It's so hard to know if you're doing things right, or even okay while you're raising your children. You gotta follow your gut, your instincts, your heart. Do what feels right for you and your family, set rules and boundaries that you are okay with. Let them fall, let them learn, let them hurt, let them heal.
Today, in the middle of yet another frustrating morning... a morning full of tears on both her end and my end.... A morning I was questioning myself and my parenting abilities --
We had one of those wanna-pause-time moments.
I needed to breathe and she needed a change of scenery, so I plopped both kids in the double jogging stroller and off we ran. And in the middle of our run, I smelled it.
I smelled my childhood.
So we stopped, and I taught CK the art of disassembling honeysuckles just right, so that you get a tiny taste of the sweet juice inside.
And with all my might, I squeezed every ounce of happiness out of that moment, remembering every single detail. Hoping that the innocence and purity and joy of that moment would help carry me through the next parenting struggle.
And I saw myself in her.
In her tenacity as she kept trying to take apart the honeysuckles. In the twinkle in her eye when she finally did it. In her stubbornness, her silliness, her joy, her emotions.
I saw a glimpse of who she is growing into - the little girl she is becoming. A little girl who is teaching me more about love and life than she even knows.
So my Cameron Kate, I can't be your friend. Not yet. But one day, my dear. One day all of this hard work we're doing will pay off, and it will all be worth it.
You see, I will always be your mama. Always. And with all my heart I know that there will come a time when I can also be your best friend. <3