“It’s not that big of a deal,” my son said to me when he heard me giving myself a verbal beat down for forgetting paint for a door I’d had installed a month ago.
The thing was, it felt like a big deal. I’d carved time out in my day to go to the store and get paint. I also had it in my schedule to get it painted already since it had been bare for almost a month. I knew if I didn’t fit it in and make an appointment with myself to do this, it would remain on my never-ending “to-do list.”
I went to the store feeling relieved that I was going to get it knocked out today. Then, I left the store with the paint supplies but forgot the stupid paint. Who does that?
Sometimes our teens need to teach us perspective
Apparently, a mother who is stretching herself so thin that when one thing gone wrong, it sends her into a tailspin. It’s been happening to me a lot lately, I have to admit. I also have to admit that it’s the very thing I teach my kids not to do.
I’ve been trying to teach them what’s worth sweating about and what isn’t. I tell them that if something won’t matter a week from now, it shouldn’t matter now. When they get stressed or angry over every little thing, I remind them that their reaction has a stress-inducing negative affect on everyone around them (mostly me). I try to teach them that it’s okay to deal with disappointments in a different way.
In a week, I won’t even remember I forgot to get paint for the door. It will seem minimal and pointless. I’ll look back at it and laugh.
But while I’m in the middle of what feels like the walls are caving in, it’s hard to talk myself down. It’s not easy to simply embrace the way the day is unfolding.
It’s hard for parents to control their own behavior
It’s hard to remember that my anxiety and acting like the world is ending bleeds onto others (mostly my kids). In fact, it’s really hard not to rid myself of the feeling that everything sucks and even harder not walk around the house pouting.
My son’s comment was not the first time my teens have been the voice of reason. It’s not the first time they’ve looked at me like I am a 4-year-old throwing a tantrum. It’s not the first time they’ve had to talk me down and remind me to breathe or just freaking relax.
My teens have told me to stop yelling. They’ve told me to stop nagging them. They’ve told me to sit down and watch a television show with them instead of cleaning. They’ve told me to stop rushing around. And each and every time, it was something I needed to hear.
In these moments when we ostensibly trade roles, it feels like I am the child and they are the parent trying to find the answers for me. I always feel a little ashamed because I’m supposed to be the rational calm one. I’m supposed to know how to keep things in perspective; I’m supposed to resist getting uptight about the small, insignificant things that don’t matter in life.
My teens are there to talk me down more than I care to admit and I have to be okay with it. I am not perfect and sometimes I need someone to be a mirror and call me out on the very thing I preach against.
This morning it happened again, I was frustrated because the fireplace wouldn’t turn on and it felt heavy–just another thing I had to deal with; another thing I had to fix; another thing that was being loaded onto my plate.
Then, my youngest took the remote to the fireplace out of my hand and reminded me that it was just the batteries that needed to be changed and the whole fireplace didn’t need to be ripped out of the wall.
The truth is, there are times when our kids have the answers for us and that’s okay. It shows me that they are comfortable enough with me to call me out, and that despite my behavior they are absorbing what I’m trying so hard to teach them.
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