Part of being a Mom is constantly realizing you're doing things wrong. There are a lot of "do-overs". Fortunately, kids are really forgiving. They're good at giving second chances- and I need a lot of those.
I had one of those experiences last week with Jillian, my shy, quiet, I-don't-ever-want-to-be-the-center-of-attention child. Her end of year preschool program was coming up and I was already prepping her (knowing she'd likely back out). We talked about what they would do, and who would be there. I told her we could get Sodalicious cookies afterward (her favorite treat). She was excited about it, but still quite hesitant. The night before she even prayed all on her own that she wouldn't be scared.
Well of course the time came, and sure enough, she didn't want to sit with the rest of her class on the small stage in front of the small audience of parents. She didn't want me to go up with her, she didn't want her teacher to walk with her. She didn't want to sit by her best friend. She didn't care about my bribes I was offering if she went up and performed. She just didn't want to. So we watched the rest of the class sing the songs and recite the poems, all of which Jillian was mouthing silently as she cowered into my arm from the front row of chairs facing the rest of the class.
I have to admit, I was feeling disappointed. Or frustrated- some mixture of both that no other kid had any reservations about getting up there. This wasn't the first time it's happened, where she clings to my side and begs to let her stay in her seat, so I can't say I was surprised, but my feelings remained the same.
I know she could sense my frustration with her, because as we were getting back into the car, she hung her head low and quietly said, "Sorry Mom." I instantly felt tears come to my eyes.
You know, the "Crap. I messed up and it wasn't anything YOU did wrong- it was me and I feel like a terrible mother" kind of tears.
We started driving and she asked if we could still get a cookie on the way home. At first I said no, since she didn't get up. But I begrudgingly gave in and we got a treat anyway.
Later that night before she went to bed she put on a tutu and her ballet shoes, and asked that I turn on some ballet music and she danced around the living room while I watched her from the couch. She said, "I want to show you a dance show since I didn't do my preschool performance today."
Same tears came up in my eyes.
Dangit- it's not her messing this up, it's YOU.
Later that night and after a conversation I had about it with my Mom (because this is obviously something you call your Mom about--expert help needed), I realized it doesn't matter if she doesn't like performances, singing in church, reading her well-practiced speaking parts- some kids just don't like performing, no matter the size of the audience. And maybe she never will. She can do SO many other things SO incredibly well, who cares if this one little thing just isn't where she shines (or even wants to shine). I shouldn't push that. I shouldn't compare her to the kids with the bold personalities, or the attention seekers, because their personalities aren't better than Jillian's, just different.
The next day I woke up eager for my second chance. I told her how proud I was of her for working so hard in preschool and being such a good friend to the other kids in her class, and that I was sorry if I was sad that she didn't get up on stage. Fortunately, she was quick to forgive and probably had already forgotten about it. But it was important for me to tell her- important for me to reestablish the kind of mother I want to be.
And I'm proud of her, SO incredibly proud.