We all say thoughtlessly say things at times when we are frustrated. But look into your child’s eyes and you’ll regret that these two words have ever left your lips. In the middle of trying to stop what seems to us a senseless argument or problem, you spew it out only to wish moments later you could hit the rewind button. But you can’t.
It’s been a trying day. There have been exactly 2.3 meltdowns from your children which felt like an eternity to your agitated nerves. You haven’t had a minute to breathe or recover until your next child was asking for your attention.
The tension and frustration is building underneath, but you’re trying your hardest to be nice. And then two of them get into a full-fledged fight over which one gets the blue Batman. And you thoughtlessly blurt it out.
Ouch. I don’t know who those words wound more, you or your child.
The last time I exploded with this sentence, my son instantly stopped whining. However, the pain in his eyes spoke louder than his complaining had. And a piece of me broke.
He is trying to grow up, momma.
He is trying to learn how the world works. His innocence doesn’t understand injustice and unfairness. He is struggling. He is trying to have his voice heard and doesn’t know how to communicate it properly. He is asking you, however annoying it may sound, for help. He is trying to get his moment of attention.
Parenting is not easy.
Remembering to speak kindly or gently doesn’t come easy to all of us when all we want is a moment of peace… a moment when the kids aren’t bickering or whining or begging.
Seeing the world through their eyes isn’t easy. What we consider small and insignificant may actually be something big or hurtful to them.
And it brings me to a devastating realization of just how selfish I am even uttering those words to my children.
When I tell them to “grow up” I’m not focusing on them at all. I haven’t truly heard their cry. My eyes haven’t met theirs to tell them “I’m here for you” no matter what the situation is. I haven’t helped them work through the problem. I haven’t met their needs.
Instead, I’m just trying to satisify myself… to get the whining or arguing or issue to stop. And I’ve done it poorly. I’ve just shut them down, belittled them to a child, and shown them that their problem is trivial, that it’s not worth my time. I’ve basically told them to suck it up and move on rather than showing them how to work through their emotion or with an older child to rationalize the situation. Instead of displaying love and compassion, I’ve turned a cold shoulder towards my own child.
I haven’t done my job as their mother.
I may direct the words “grow up” toward my child, but really I am the one who needs to grow up.
The truth is that my boys are growing up. Too quickly. The little mouths that I used to spoon feed baby food into now sing all the words to the songs on the radio and tell jokes.
They don’t need me to zip their coats anymore or button their shirts. Their little fingers have mastered it on their own.
They no longer need me to help them write their name. They are now writing big words and stories guided by their active imaginations.
They went from crawling to running in the blink of an eye. They have outgrown their toddler toys and training wheels.
I am not ready for them to outgrow me though.
As their momma, I want to hold onto these precious little ones as long as possible. How senseless of me to have ever wished them to grow up, let alone to crush their little hearts with such harsh words.
All of us make parenting mistakes that we regret. Let’s not make the mistake of telling our kids to grow up… because they already are growing up.
Be present. Speak kindly. Love deeply.