After more than a week of total togetherness with my family, which was for the most part blissful, I had a moment last Friday where I went into full blown "bad mom" mode. Hailey and I were picking up and cleaning out the homework area in our laundry room. For the past few months it has become a dumping ground for any art project or piece of paper that I didn't know what to do with. On this morning she was expressing a desire to create and needed somewhere to do it. We quickly got the desk picked up - old paper thrown away, markers and crayons organized. paint splatters and glue marks off the laminate. Then began the task of sweeping the floor. There were bits of glitter and some sequins strewn about and there are always bits of clay from the litter box in there. Hailey in super helper mode grabbed the broom and started making little piles. I was turned around starting on the mess sitting on top of the dryer when I heard a loud crash followed by the sound of breaking glass. I turned around and saw that while she was trying to maneuver the unwieldy and too long broom in that tiny space, the handle had knocked an empty wine bottle off of the sink counter.
Don't even ask why there were empty wine bottles in the room (thank you Pinterest). After I saw that she wasn't hurt, my immediate instinct was to curse and then scold her. I saw the broken glass on the floor and told her to get out before she got cut. I handled it badly. I was not mad at her. I was more mad at myself for letting things get such a mess in there and for having materials that sit around for months for projects I will probably never get to. I quickly swept up the big pieces of glass and then ran the vacuum to pick up any shards. All the while I could see Hailey sitting at the table coloring something.
After a half hour or so when I had almost finished up the rest of the cleaning of the room, Hailey walked in shyly and handed me this card she had been working on. One side was all balloons and the other side was all hearts.
And inside were the words: I am sre (sorry).
I quickly grabbed her and hugged her and told her that she had nothing to be sorry about. I was the one who was sorry. She was just trying to help and I rewarded her for that by yelling at her. I told her that I didn't care one bit about the broken wine bottle, that I was mad at myself for leaving it there and that it scared me to think that she could have gotten hurt. We hugged it out and she forgave me and all was good.
How she reacted to the situation reminded me a lot of myself. I can express myself much easier in writing than I can by speaking. Especially if I am upset, I tend to get too emotional when I speak and those emotions just pour out of me in a blubbering sobbing mess and the point of what I wanted to say in the first place is washed away in the snot bubbles. Forget about speaking in front of crowds. It is so ironic to me that I married a man that basically speaks in front of people for a living. He can get in front of a full auditorium and wing it. I would be having nervous sweats and stomach aches for weeks before hand. I hope the kids get at least some of his ability.
Writing about expressing your feelings on paper reminded me of a pretty cool thing we are doing with the boys. It started as a way to open lines of communication with our preteen boy. I fear that communication in the form of mumbling and grunts is in the not too distant future. Spencer is a lot like me, when he has to talk about hard stuff, he would rather write it then talk to us directly. We started a communication journal with Spencer and Evan. We figured we might as well start with Evan now. I just took a plain notebook and wrote a little preface in it telling what the purpose of it was. I ask them questions in it then set it on their beds for them to write back to me at some point.
When they write back they can just answer or they can reciprocate with a question for mom or dad. The questions have been pretty ordinary things like "what do you hope we can do over Spring Break"" or "what was your favorite part of the movie we saw last night and why did you like it?". They have really embraced the concept - Evan especially. He will even prompt me if it has been a few nights and he hasn't seen the journal on his pillow. "Mom? Are you ever going to write back to me?" It is fun and practices reading and writing skills and most importantly establishes a running dialogue where I hope they feel they can express real fears and problems that might arise. Things that they might not want to express verbally to our faces. So that is a good thing.
Rights and wrongs.
I just have to keep repeating one of my favorite quotes - "The most important thing she had learned over the years was there was no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one."