Two days ago, my six-year-old daughter and I had an argument over the volume of one of her toys. Yesterday, my 9-year-old son had a meltdown because he didn't have any clean pajamas. I had a meltdown in response to his meltdown. All week, the kids have been bickering, yelling and yanking things from each other. All week, I've been on a short fuse and frustrated by all of their bickering.
This morning, I felt like everything was falling apart. I was sure I was ruining my kids for life, and everything was my fault. I felt helpless and hopeless.
This was the conversation I had with myself.
Emotional me: Oh my god! I'm the worst homeschooling mom in the entire universe!
Rational me: Ok, settle down now. You know that's not true. Why are you being so hard on yourself?
Em: The kids have been yelling and fighting, and I just realized that it's all my fault! I've been yelling and fighting with them, and being a lazy, uncaring, picky mom. It's because of my behavior that our family is clawing at each other.
Rm: This may be true, but that can be fixed. Really, things were good for a long time before this recent transgression. You can easily get back on track.
Em: No, that's not true. I've ruined them for life. They will look back on their childhood, and remember how I yelled, and nagged, and picked. I want them to have happy memories of their childhood. Not memories of their mom being a crazy beast.
Rm: They do have good memories. Lots of them! Right now you feel frustrated and helpless. It doesn't mean their entire childhood has been like the past two weeks. This is an anomaly. Work to make things right, not stress over what you did wrong.
Em: Ok, so how do I fix it then? How can I make it up to them? I remember the look on their little faces when we were arguing, how much I wanted, no needed, to be right. They weren't listening. I felt like they never listen, and I so wanted them to. They were confused, hurt and I kept on being mad. I felt so horrible afterwards.
Rm: You are still learning how to be a parent. It's an ongoing process. You will make mistakes. The trick is to learn from those mistakes.
Em: I'm not learning though. I keep making the same mistakes. I keep falling into the same patterns as before. I get frustrated, raise my voice, then the kids do, then I do, and it keeps spiraling. It makes me tired, then I'm less likely to want to make an effort.
Rm: You do keep making the same mistakes. But you are also learning from them. If you look back, you can remember a time when you'd be frustrated for hours after the fact? This time, it took you only a few moments to realize your mistake. And you admitted you made a mistake! This is a huge step. Now, the next step is to make it right. To go from this moment on, and stop fretting about what you did, and look how you can make now good. Use what you have learned from this and move forward.
Em: You're right. I can do this. I can grow from my mistakes and move forward. I'm scared though. I'm scared I'll never be a good mom.
Rm: You won't ever be a perfect mom. True. But you are a good mom. Good moms make mistakes.
Em: You're right, me. You're really smart, you know.
Rm: I know. :)
Em: Thanks me.
Rm: You're welcome me. Now, go and spend some happy time with those kids.
Tammy Takahashi lives and learns with her three children (10, 7 and 4) and supportive husband in California. She is the author of Deschooling Gently: A Step by Step Guide to Fearless Homeschooling. She also serves as the editor of the California HomeSchooler magazine, a bi-monthly publication for the Homeschool Association of California. You can read more from her about education and homeschooling on her website. And you can email her at tammy.takahashi @ gmail(dot)com.