12/30/2013 02:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Trip Down Guilty Lane

I recently read an article titled, "Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?" There is truth in the fact that we cannot be a nation of helicopter parents swooping in to save the day for our children. Kids do need to experience disappointment and learn how to cope with it, and sometimes situations are their fault and they need to learn the proper way to apologize and handle consequences; but when my daughter is acting like a typical four old and I'm just too tired to deal with it, then no, it's not her fault. It's entirely my fault.

Last night was not one of my best parenting moments. I was exhausted. My middle son seemed to have made it his mission to annoy his little sister with as much ferocity as he could muster. My older son had his middle school attitude dialed up to full volume, and my daughter did not sit still for four consecutive hours. She was bouncing and jumping and yelling and knocking things over and then getting hurt in the process. I have no idea where all of this energy came from, but I finally lost my temper (OK, a few times) and was not as kind and loving as I should have been. As I was tucking my daughter into bed, she looked at me and said, "Go away. You're mean."

Bedtime is when I overindulge with kisses and 'I love you'. This is the time when I typically crawl into bed and squeeze them tight so they know as they fall asleep that nobody loves them more than their mom. But last night, I was so frazzled that I just said, "I know. I love you though," and I left the room so I could catch my breath.

"You're mean" is not that big of deal. I've been mean before. All moms have -- there's no way that you can spend all of you time with little people who are not always perfect and angelic and not be mean from time to time. But when my tiny little mini-me looks at me with her big eyes full of sadness and says "You're mean" in a way that says so much more, then I know I've failed that day.

A few minutes later I crawled into bed with her and hugged her tight. I inhaled her scent and kissed her little face. I told her I was sorry I was mean and that it wasn't her fault.

Because it wasn't.

We are a nation of busy parents. We work, we rush our kids from school to practice to lessons. We are so tired, yet we expect our kids not to melt down, and when they do, we get annoyed and frazzled. Getting annoyed and frazzled is our meltdown, and the double standard is that we expect our kids to get it and deal with it and not get annoyed with us.


...and around the cycle of guilty parenting we go.

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