behaving badly

Tonight one of my children behaved very badly. I was pretty embarrassed by the behavior, unsure of how to handle the situation. We had friends over as the bad behavior reared its ugly head. And let me repeat again, I was very embarrassed and very angry. Who was I angry at? My child, of course. They should have known better and we definitely do not teach that behavior in our house. All I could think was, “what do my friends think?” I was so angry that my child would take my time from me and demand that I parent in a rather uncomfortable way. Ugh.

Davy and I said goodbye to our friends and their children and placed our full attention on our children. We talked to them, settled them, and tucked them into their beds, exhausted from emotion. It was one of those nights.

We came downstairs and Davy looked at me and said, “I felt like we could have been better parents tonight.”

I fought him. Absolutely not, I said. Our child is our child and we cannot control how he acts. Now I was getting more angry. Not only was I embarrassed by my child, but now my partner is asking me to admit our fault. He talked some, and I continued to defend us (me) by contesting what he was saying. End of conversation. Ugh.

But something was not sitting well with me. I turned his thoughts over in my mind some, entertaining the notion that maybe I (we) were also at fault. Could I have prevented my child from behaving badly? I am not sure. But parenting, it is turning out to be a crazy selfless venture. It demands you at times when you don’t want to be demanded (as in having a great conversation with your friends). It asks you to forget about your beer when all you want to do is relax. It means you can’t always be available to entertain and ensure everyone is ok. It demands you to be with “them.” My children are demanding. Not because they are difficult, but because they require leadership, love, and grace. They demand selflessness not because they are high maintenance, but because they are children.

I get mad about this sometimes. Being in demand means that there are many times when my desires are set aside. Tonight was tricky, because sometimes I forget that “they” need me more than I need to finish my beer (or my sentence for that matter.) At times, I tried to deny that this is the way it it. Its like I want the best of both, to be an adult free of this demand and on the same note a parent who cares for their child. Sometimes the balance is possible. Other times it’s not.

Tonight, it dawned on me that possibly I also behaved badly. Not in an overt, temper tantrum way, but rather in a way that denied the necessity of selflessness in that particular moment.

Of course, my children may have behaved badly despite my circumstance…

but the most important thing, in any venture, parenting or whatever your situation may be, is to know that you did the right thing.

I’m still figuring stuff out… growing up is tricky.

4 Responses to “behaving badly”

  1. 1 Erica Smith
    August 16, 2010 at 3:08 am

    oh ellen. This blog is so good for me to read. I feel like i know what you mean, on a smaller scale (bc I only have one kid and we are not yet to full on bad behavior). but i know it’s coming. it is so hard to always be selfless for them, it’s so much easier to just do your own thing and hope they “comply” with whatever is on your agenda. but, sometimes i catch myself doing this too much, and it comes back to bite me. anyways, thanks for sharing. miss you!

  2. 2 Kimberly Berg
    August 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    selflessness=parenthood. It is a TOUGH gig. So good to hear that all parents go through this self evaluation. Love ya!

  3. August 17, 2010 at 4:24 am

    so good. you are all learning together. give lots of grace, patience and love not only to him but to yourself. you are a wonderful mom and i have always thought so. proof? you have wonderful kids. love you all – eb

  4. August 20, 2010 at 3:11 am

    oh my… this was a great post. i struggle with that type of situation as well. do my kids need to learn that sometimes they need to wait and let mommy and daddy talk, or am i being unrealistic in my expectations, thus setting everyone up for major failure? parenting is SO difficult. and my selfishness is most definitely the thing that i have struggled with the most. having Reed brought me to a place of complete brokenness. each child has been hard in the whole “learning to die to myself” thing, but this year with having all 3 has probably been one of the hardest years of my life. but it goes without saying, it has also been one of the most rewarding years. anyways, i totally get that struggle. thanks for sharing, ellen. it’s been awhile since i have visited, but i always enjoy it. 🙂

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