I still remember the day I made my mother so upset or so angry that she had to leave the house. I don’t remember exactly how old I was (in my teens somewhere), I don’t remember what I did (or didn’t do for that matter), and I don’t remember what was said. But what I do remember were the tears she had, the tone in her voice and that her frustration or anger or sadness caused her to need to leave the house.
I know this feeling well. And I guess I get my emotional side from her when I become frustrated, angry or sad because I go through these feelings with my kids. Mine are still young and don’t know as much as I did as a teen. But I have learned that these feelings are a part of parenthood. But its how we deal with them that is important. I have had to put myself in time outs. I have had to walk out the front door and sit on the porch to get some air. I’ve had to go into my closet and shut the door just to breathe. I get it. I get what she was feeling.
It’s funny what sticks in kids memories and what doesn’t. Ask me certain things about my childhood and adolescent years, and I’ll tell you I don’t remember. But this moment in time, however many years ago it was, I remember.
It was the other day that memory came flooding back to me. And it is because of my 4 year old. We were having a perfectly good evening, it was bath time and he had just come out of the bath. He was wrapped in his towel and I was sitting at his feet helping him dry off. I looked up at him and could see it. He looked sad. His eyes were filling with tears. And before I knew it, out of the complete blue, he said to me, “mommy, don’t leave me alone in the house”. And then he proceeded to bawl his eyes out.
I had no clue what he was talking about. I said, “T, I would never leave you alone, why do you say that? Why are you sad?”
Him: “You and daddy and Z are going to move to a new house and you’re going to leave me. I’m not coming with you”.
I was heartbroken. I had no clue where this was coming from and why. I took him into my arms, hugged him and explained that I (or we) would NEVER go anywhere without him. If we go, we all go together. But I had to know where this was coming from so I urged him to explain why he felt like that. And his words shocked me to the point where my eyes then filled with tears that I had to hold back so he wouldn’t see I was upset.
He told me that I said to him once that I was going to leave. And it took me a couple of minutes to fully grasp what he was saying. And it hit me. A few weeks or even months ago, he was acting out. He was behaving very badly and I was trying to talk to him calmly about his actions and what he needed to be doing instead. But he wasn’t listening at all. And I got to a point, after having to repeat myself over and over and over to no avail, that I lost it. And I yelled. And I remember saying that if he doesn’t listen and start behaving, that I am going to leave.
I guess he took this so literally, and just took it in without saying anything. But it obviously was sitting in his mind the whole time, and out of nowhere, he remembered it.
It was a total reminder of that day with my mom, only thing is, now I understand what she was going through.
They say that kids are like sponges. They hear things, they see things and soak it all in. Except we don’t always realize just how much they are soaking in.
I see it in my older son as well. I hear him saying things that I know I say when I am in “a certain mood”. I had no idea the true effect of my words on my kids. But now I do. That was the hard way to learn that lesson. Sometimes it is hard to handle your emotions when you are in a heated moment of parenting. It is hard to sometimes gather your thoughts and think rationally before the ‘ugly’ words start spewing out. Sometimes we just need to stop altogether.
I hope this will be my reminder. Because I never want my kids to feel hurt by my words ever again.