Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mommy Shame...

I screwed up.

Yesterday the four of us went to a family graduation party. I haven't seen a lot of these family members in a long time and was really looking forward to "catching up." We got to the party around 4:30 after a busy day with no naps...and 100 degree weather. Brian was a little bit wound up. Onlookers might not have thought so - but for Brian, he was wound up. As I tried to hold some conversations - I simultaneously had to keep Gavin from eating the furniture (I'm not kidding) and make sure Brian didn't wander from sight or pick up anything fragile. Every two seconds I was trying to keep Brian from getting into things...stop him from screaming...chasing him up the stairs or off the couch. My conversations were thoughts were scattered...and I probably looked frazzled. I wasn't used to Brian acting so crazy and for a second I felt annoyed that he might be giving people a bad "first impression."

Uh, reality check, Kate. He's TWO.
In a moment that I have regretted since, I blurted out "Brian, you're embarrassing me!"

As soon as it came out of my mouth I wanted to cry. No, I don't think anyone heard me. Yes, I understand that Brian likely didn't even know what I was talking about. But I heard it - and I know. And I feel pretty ashamed of myself. One thing that is very important to me is respecting my children. I would never...ever...want them to feel that they are an embarrassment to me. I would never want to shame them publicly like I feel I did yesterday to Brian. Ugh. I just feel so sick about it.

I lost my cool.

I guess one of the reasons that it bothers me so much has to do with Gavin. I would never want anyone (especially me!) to humiliate HIM in public for being himself. I would never want anyone to say they're embarrassed for being with him - ever! What kind of lesson would I be teaching my children - about patience and compassion and tolerance for others - if I can't keep my cool with them!
Am I over thinking this? Perhaps. But for me - it's a bigger issue.

Some moments in life stick with you. For me, this is one of those moments. It was a big, swift kick of a lesson for this Mommy. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I'm so sorry, Brian.


  1. Kate: I know it's a big deal to you and you feel badly. I have done the very thing you describe in this post. I have felt ashamed and really hard on myself. None of us are perfect and sometimes we need to be easy on ourselves.

    I am ashamed to admit it, but the one I have messed up with the most is Curtis. I hate that, but I am learning more patience and compassion as his life goes forward.

    Sometimes, we Mamas need to give ourselves some slack, even if we don't want to.

  2. Hi Kate,

    We all have those moments of feeling the eyes of others are upon us and on the kids and we are aware that we will be judged. There's a lot of pressure at times -- and you have more pressure on you daily than the average parent. Don't be too hard on yourself. :)

    On the flip side of not wanting him to think that you are embarrassed by him for "being himself," it's a parent's job to make sure that (within developmentally appropriate limits) kids understand or at least begin to understand social 'rules.' So I don't think you were as out of line as you think you were, even if you might have used a different tack to make your point. We are the only ones that will love our kids unconditionally and it's not unkind to reign them in when they are (intentionally or not) behaving inappropriately. If we don't buy them a clue, who will? JMO, that can start pretty early. Obviously at two, you still have to run a lot of interference. And the no-nap thing is huge, right? It's almost not worth trying to have even half a teachable moment if they are too tired, hungry ... you name it. But the whole thing sounds exhausting. I know what that's like trying to relax for two minutes and catch up ... but it's impossible with your attention divided. And in our family, some relatives who like to look for an opportunity to bring you up short will take joy in the opportunity to point out to you what junior did while you were mindlessly chatting away, not being 100% mommy, 100% of the time (insert massive eye roll). BTDT.

    We have relatives that had boys that they never reigned in ... rarely corrected. They clearly loved the kids, but I always felt bad for them --the parents never helped them by enforcing limits and giving explanations of appropriate behavior and people (even immediate family) were very turned off by the behavior (still are at times now and the kids are almost in high school). So as a consequence, they boys are not as close as they might have been with their relatives. And they've become the example of how everyone else doesn't want their kids to behave. I can only imagine this problem may repeat when they try to enter the workplace (hope not). You gotta set kids up to succeed socially. Of course you do it in a way that respects them as individuals (who just need to learn) and you do it out of love and concern, but JMO your feedback doesn't always have to be all be all unicorns and rainbows, all the time. And as for being embarrassed ... lol ... be careful if you let them know what embarrasses you, they might just do it more often. ;)

  3. kate,

    i have been following your journals since the beginning (we were in the same online group with the snapdragons). honestly - sometimes - kids ARE embarrassing! You want what every mother wants - for everyone to see your child in the best light possible. If behavior is inappropriate, it is just that - somehow you have not done your job to parent this child to control himself. with that said - Brain is 2 and 2 year olds act out. no big deal. you have a lot on your plate and trying to control 2 small children and have a conversation is virtually impossible! don't be so hard on yourself.

  4. I had to laugh very hard at this post. Brian will have to get used to this phrase, because once they are 4 or 5 or 6 years old, kids do embarass you, and they do it on purpose. And you have to call it out then.
    You are doing such a great job and everyone knows it. It is impossible not to notice.

    Fidi - (pregnant after 35 board)

  5. I was recently in a very similar situation. I helped throw a baby shower for my cousin and her aunt graciously offered her house for the party. All her kids are adults so her house is not 2 year old boy proofed and she is very very strict. My son is used to having free reign of our home (with structure and limits of course) so I was nervous going intmto the situation. He was wild. Running around like it was a free for all. We are working on his tendency to push but it is a work in progress since he has a speech delay and pushing is one of his ways to communicate. When one of the aunts reprimanded me on his 2 year old behavior I lost it. I took it out on my son forcing him to sit on my lap for a good stretch of time. I was angry and embarrassed and so overwhelmed, I almost left...just one hour into the shower. I feel horrible that I lost it with him when it wasnt his fault. He was simply being a 2 year old.


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