This was originally published at Missing Filter by Basic Pitch on September 29, 2016.
I had another post planned to work on next. It was going to be awesome. Everyone who read it was going to be fundamentally and forever changed just by reading it. Then life happened, it had to go on the backburner while I adulted. Hopefully, I’ll still get around to writing that one. Today I have different things on my mind.
My son is failing math. On top of that, I received a call from his math teacher on Tuesday informing me that he had been in trouble multiple times for running his mouth, being a snot, and just being a distraction in general.
Logically I know that not only is my 11 year old smart enough to turn his grade around, but he is exhibiting pretty normal behavior for a kid his age and all he really needs is some redirection and maybe a little tough love and his behavior will return to acceptable and his grades will improve.
The issue he struggles with most is being a kid who just discovered that being sarcastic is funny and hasn’t learned that it shouldn’t be applied in all situations. He comes by this naturally. His parents are sarcastic, his grandparents are sarcastic, he comes from a long and storied line of those with razor sharp wit and withering snark. It will take time for him to hone his craft and learn when it can be successfully applied for the desired result. The time and place for this is almost never sixth-grade math class. Unfortunately, his use of sarcasm without a spotter has resulted in trouble at school and a bad grade due to spending all of his time being a distraction instead of doing class work.
After some long conversations about being respectful, reading his audience, and how improved behavior and grades supported his short and long term goals, I think my son and I have a good plan in place and daily appointments to check progress. We didn’t yell and scream, no one cried, and we ended with a hug and I love you.
Why do I still feel like a terrible mother? Why does that guilt still nag me? That little voice that tells me if I was a better mother he wouldn’t be behaving this way or if he was I would have at least known and solved the issue before getting calls from teachers telling me he isn’t behaving and failing. I’m not alone in this. I know I’m not the only mother who has looked at their kid’s struggles and felt themselves a failure. We’re so unfair to ourselves. I found myself wondering if I’m involved enough in his education, wondering if I should find a way to rearrange my hours at work so I could be home to manage homework time every night, questioning every decision I’ve made for him or because of him, trying to figure out which one led to this entirely solvable issue that can easily be corrected.
Part of me knows this is just the life of a mother. We invest so much of ourselves, our hopes, our dreams, and our efforts into these little humans we create. When they struggle or hurt we feel it, desperate to take away that pain and make everything easy. Everything isn’t easy though, and we can’t be there every moment of every day. We shouldn’t be there every moment of every day. Stopping struggles like this takes away lessons they need to learn and yet that doesn’t stop me from wanting to rescue them and feeling like a failure when I can’t.
The other part of me knows I have to stop doing this to myself. I need to trust my parenting. I am a good mother and I am raising brilliant, kind, funny, creative, inquisitive children. I should accept and be glad for the minor speed bumps that create learning moments for lessons I wouldn’t be able to teach otherwise. I should know that these characteristics that seem troublesome now can be honed into what makes them happy and successful adults.
I may not be a perfect parent, but I’m perfect for my children and I need to stop feeling bad about that.