Saturday was one of the hardest days I’ve had as a mom so far.
And it wasn’t because I was changing diapers or struggling with bedtime. It was hard in a whole new way.
In the morning, I took John to the pool and he didn’t swim as well as he wanted to. It was the best swimming I’ve ever seen from him, but it didn’t live up to what he was hoping he would be able to do. On the way home, in the smallest, shakiest voice I’ve ever heard, he said “Mom, I’m so disappointed in myself.”
Did you hear it? It’s the sound of my heart breaking.
I tried and tried to tell him how proud I was of him, how hard he was working and how he was improving. But he wouldn’t hear it. He had done his best, but it wasn’t enough for him. Disappointment.
Then Matt and John were hanging out together in the afternoon, and came home with a story that hit me like another kick in the gut. Without getting into all the details, John was trying to play with a couple of friends who I guess just didn’t want to play with him. They switched games each time he tried to join in. And he noticed it, too, and didn’t understand.
I’m dying over this. Just typing it makes my heart hurt.
So on Saturday, he was disappointed in himself, and then in other people.
Two days later, he’s completely fine. We’re going back to the pool after work today and he’s forgotten all about the problem with his friends. I guess six-year-olds are sturdy.
I’m a little shakier. I get that having days like this is part of life. There are things I wish I could better, too. Some friends will love you, others will not quite fit. But learning those lessons for the first time must be just terrible. And terribly confusing. I hate that for him even as I recognize what he’s going through.
I can make sure John eats well and takes baths regularly and looks both ways before crossing the street, but I can’t protect him from having his feelings hurt. I know that. I just had no idea how much it would hurt me, too.
Always look for the silver lining and here it is that he shares those feelings with you. Too many parents probably could not say the same.
Like you, I have always agonized when things don’t go the way our kids want them to, but hopefully they learn from those times and are better for it.
Oh, Rich, thank you. I think that’s good advice. Knowing that he was having a hard time and not knowing why would be so much worse!
Oh, Katie. This stuff is so incredibly hard. But I think the point your friend Rich makes is spot on. When our kids feel comfortable sharing these feeling and thoughts with us, we can give them the tools they need to deal in real time, while encouraging them that they are smart, resilient kids who can handle what comes their way.