To My Kids: I Messed Up Today, And I'm Sorry

emotional intelligence 

By Ashley Patek

To My Kids: I Messed Up Today, And I'm Sorry

I messed up today. More than once. 

As my boys snuggled up to me before bed, laying their heads on my chest, I couldn’t help but wonder if my mistakes rolled off them, or if they stuck. 

Are they carrying with them to sleep what happened in our wake, or was it just me? 

I silently prayed they knew how far and wide and deep my love went. How it surpassed ceilings and atmospheres. 

Did I tell them enough throughout the minutes of our day? Did I show them? Could they feel it? My mind was racing, searching for unknown answers. 

While there were gleaming moments in which my boys saw me at my best, they also saw me at my worst. 

I was short one too many times. I don’t know why my threshold was low, but it was barely off the ground. I hope you know that it had more to do with me than it did you. 

And I must admit that I tuned you out more than once. I felt distracted and it pulled me away from my minutes with you. But you kept at it and demanded my attention. Please don’t stop telling me what you want and need. It is important to me. 

I yelled. Loudly. That must have felt scary. To be honest, it felt a bit scary to me too. I spent the next several hours wondering how deep that wound went. Will it leave a scar? 

I lectured. I forgot that your brain is still a work in progress. I expected too much and demanded more than you could give. 

My tone suggested that if you could just get it together then our day would be easier. But that isn’t true. You are the breath that breezes through the halls of our home. Without you, we would be incomplete. 

I handled your sibling arguments with too little … or maybe I was too much. I am unsure. It isn’t easy for me when I see you both at odds and sometimes I don’t know what to do. 

Your emotions got big today. So did mine. At one point, all three of us were erupting. I want you to know you are not responsible for my feelings. I also want you to know that yours are safe with me. 

I am an imperfect mom. 

I used to shame myself for it. Not anymore. 

It’s actually quite a gift.

It is my mistakes that give you the permission to make yours. My blemishes that gift you grace to be imperfect too. 

I won’t be flawless, but I will be enough. 

So, while I may have messed up today, all I can do is stand in my imperfections and apologize. 

I am sorry, my sons. I did the best I could, and I am still growing (and healing) too. 

I can let you know that our relationship matters - you matter - and I can model how to make repairs. Because you won’t always get it right either, and I hope that you are able to give yourself compassion. I hope that you see that you are not defined by your behavior. You are always innately “good.”

With closed eyes and patterned breaths that become our lullaby, our day leaves us. The slate wiped clean, preparing us for tomorrow. A tomorrow where we can all try again. Together. 

•  •  •

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