Friday, January 18, 2013

Mommy Apologies

It was after school on Monday.

After snack time, after tennis, after battling traffic to get home from tennis, after hamster time and general fooling around time. I was chopping peppers while simultaneously quizzing Child #2 on his treble and bass clef note flash cards.

The noise came from the dining room like a fire engine. "I CAN'T DO THIS." I pretended not to hear and continued chopping and quizzing. Two seconds later Child #1 poked her head into the kitchen.

"You need to help me. NOW!"

I took a deep patient mommy breath. "Okay honey," I said in that overbright voice which means I would really rather be anywhere else. I hovered over her shoulder and re-explained principles of rounding to the right of the decimal and money that I was certain she knew.

"BUT I CAN'T," she wailed as I turned to go back to the kitchen. "YOU have to STAY and WATCH me."

"I'll watch you do one," I said and then, I'm embarrassed to say, things got ugly. There was the point where I stomped back to the kitchen and hacked at vegetables like they were convicted pedophiles.

There was the moment when she chased me down and attempted a sit-in. Nonviolent, but filled with words designed to send me over the edge. "How could you refuse to help me. I'll never help you do anything ever again. You're a mean, mean mother and I think dinner looks disgusting."

At this point there should have been a punishment. Time out would have good for everyone involved.

Except there wasn't. We did battle over the dining room table. Me, with poison seeping out of my voice saying things like, "In your opinion, is the number three bigger than five or smaller than five?"

She retaliated with tears and guilt. "You don't even love me a little bit, do you?"

My husband came home to mayhem. Angry wife, one child sulking and one child who wouldn't stop talking about Pokemon gym leaders. He took over, for which I was grateful, and told me to go to my dance class.

Afterwards it occurred to me I owed my daughter an apology. I took a deep breath and entered the sanctum of her room where she was using her hamster as a mustache (don't ask). "I'm sorry," I told her. "The way I spoke to you was inappropriate. I hope you can forgive me."

"I'm sorry too," she sobbed.

We cried. We hugged. We cozied down on her bed for some girl talk.

Later that night I realized maybe math wasn't the most important thing my daughter learned that evening. Maybe it was everyone has to be accountable for their behavior.

Even mothers.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for you! That took a lot of courage to do, but she saw the importance of apologizing and that no one is perfect.
And I won't even ask about the hamster mustache...

ilima said...

Aww. What a sad story with a sweet ending. Good for you.

Beylit said...

I know my mother and I had similar incidents to this, though normally it was my brother making her scream and cry. Admittedly I was a pretty frustrating child and tested her nerves.

Glad it ended well for you.

Alison DeLuca said...

Argh! Math homework with my kid - would rather stick pins in my eyes!

What a lovely post. I got a bit teary at the end.

jaybird said...

You are so far ahead of the game, Johanna, because you can actually help your kid with math. Mine have all surpassed me and my limited knowledge the day they started adding letters, into the problems. LOL

Oh, I can so relate to the chopping, helping, doing ten things at once (homework with three kids) and somehow losing it and not even knowing how it all came about. I have apologized to my kids on numerous occasions, telling them that moms and dads are not perfect, we make mistakes and need to be held accountable for our bad behaviour, just as much as they do. I hope one day they will realize that I am just human, and doing the best that I possibly can.

How you made up with your daughter, is beautiful, and speaks volumes as to your relationship with her. Kudos to you, mom!

Connie J Jasperson said...

You are an awesome mother! Having open lines of communication with your children now, with honesty and forgiveness for small hurts is key to staying in the loop as they get older.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's sweet you both apologized.

Carol Kilgore said...

I went a round or two with my mother, too. But I didn't have a hamster. Overall, a learning experience for all.

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, thanks for not asking!

Ilima, nothing like a happy ending :)

Beylit, I think every family has these kind of interactions from time to time.

Aww, Allison, I made you teary.

Thank you so much Jaybird!

Connie, I'm all about staying in the loop.

Thanks Diane :)

Carol, hamsters seem to add an extra layer to everything ;)

Hart Johnson said...

Man, it's a good thing I wasn't blogging during the homework years. I would have to resign in shame. My daughter and I had SUCH difficulty. She couldn't understand my language, and like yours... needed me to just WATCH HER--honey, can't you call me when you actually run into trouble? It actually worked a lot better for her to work with my husband who had similar math struggles to hers. I just couldn't see what she wasn't getting.

Anonymous said...

Been there. So been there.

Gwen Gardner said...

Awww, such a sweet story. But mommys are people, too, and it's a story with a happy ending. It brought tears to my eyes :)

Happy Friday!

Shallee said...

What a great example of life in general. I'm glad you and your daughter were able to work things out!

The Bookworm said...

awwww about "You don't even love me a little bit, do you?"
Sweet story :)

Misha Gerrick said...

So true. This builds relationships, though. Hope she comes right with her decimals now. :-)

jaybird said...

Johanna- I had to pop back in and tell you I just finished reading Losing Beauty and I absolutely lurrved it! Can't wait to read what comes next in Losing Hope.

Michael Di Gesu said...

It's the hardest job being a parent. Most are ALWAYS in the right. I admire you for realizing it was a joint effort, both being at fault.

GOOD FOR YOU, JOHANNA.... I can RARELY remember only once or twice my parents apologized to me.

Have a great weekend!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It's wonderful that you apologized and made peace with your daughter. It's easier to hold grudges, of course, but it's better to let them go. (Easier said than done, at least for me.)

Alex Villasante said...

is your daughter sending secret messages to my daughter? I won't be mad if she is, in fact, I'd be relieved that my eldest (who will be 9 in march) hasn't become a pod person. BECAUSE the same thing happened to me last week during homework time. And it's happened before. Same sit in/ you don't love me tactics. I lose my cool and suddenly it's not me anymore, but a demented banshee that's taken my place. I also make a point to apologize to my daughter whenever I misbehave because I want her to understand that saying your sorry doesn't diminish you - it strengthens your relationships. I feel you, I really do!