Occasionally, I'll step outside of myself just far enough to see my behavior from my children's perspective. And sometimes I don't like what I see.
As we rush to get out the door on certain mornings and Skye's maniacal focus on how her socks should fold over one another "just so" takes precious time away from our ability to get Hunter to school on time, I loose it! I'm one wire hanger away from re-enacting Mommy Dearest. Suddenly, I see myself screaming at her to move it, and I'm ashamed at how my behavior makes her and her brother Hunter feel. They suddenly cower in fear. Skye's face clouds over as she bursts into tears and Hunter snaps to attention like a little soldier, trying to compensate for his sister's transgressions.
Thank God those moments rarely happen, but when they do, I feel like I undo all the good work and trust that I've established to that point. I know that's unreasonable, and that even the best parent looses her cool, but I hate it when it happens to me. What makes me even more ashamed, is listening to myself scold Skye for talking to her brother so rudely, when I know she merely mirrors me in my less than stellar parenting moments.
I'm fascinated at how we take more time and grant more patience with perfect strangers or work colleagues than we do our own loved ones, especially our children. I would never think about coming unraveled in a professional setting. Despite my wildest fantasies of riding herd over unreasonable sellers and out of touch executives, I keep myself in check and put on a good game face. I suppose the consequences for behaving badly at work are more immediate than those for behaving badly at home.
My new goal starting right now will be to simply walk away before my temper erupts. As I do already, I will apologize to my children for each outburst and explain how my behavior was unacceptable. I know I won't be perfect, but at least, I will be more aware of the anger. So, when I feel that rage crawl up my spine and raise my hackles, I will stop it in its tracks and learn more constructive ways of dealing with my frustrations. Because the long term effects of my bad behavior on my family are far more destructive than lost wages. My family's love and admiration is priceless.
I really do understand how disconcerting it can be to have someone "Talk the talk, but not walk the walk." I don't want to be a source of that frustration for my children. So, I will stop demonstrating the old adage, "Do as I say, not as I do" and start showing my children that they deserve to be treated with at least the same respect than that I give strangers or professional associates.
- Stacy Graffam
- I'm a lesbian mom in an inter-racial relationship, living in Bergen County, NJ. My wife and I are raising two beautiful children, an eleven year-old son and a six year-old daughter. I'll be sharing our adventures in faith and parenting on a regular basis. My entries are also published in Gay Parent Magazine (www.gayparentmag.com).