How to feel like a failure as a mom
When art imitates life, it's called mimesis.
Lately, I have been feeling frustrated with my children, and I couldn't figure out why. Creative expression can be quite helpful in revealing feelings.
The most recent episode of F*cking Sober that I wrote a couple of weeks back, there is a scene where Betsy gets fed up with her kids over screen time and calls for a "family day." I didn't even realize when I wrote this that it is exactly how I have been feeling at home. Frustrated, annoyed and defeated by my children and their screens.
We are in between sports seasons over here. Hockey ended a few weeks ago and soccer has yet to begin, and so my boys have had a lot of free time. With that, they have been hanging out around the house a lot. The weather has been all over the place - some days it is warm and sunny, other days it's cold and rainy. It was getting to the point, where in the evening I was just too tired to have the never-ending screen time argument, and I would allow that extra thirty minutes. It was easier to give it to them to face the wrath of each child, day in and day out.
That is where I have failed. Putting my foot down and establishing the rules from the beginning. And following through on my word. We all know as moms that sometimes it's easier to just give in to the wants and demands of the little people in our lives when we are tired than it is to assert our authority.
These last few weeks, I had grown guilty of letting the inmates run the asylum. The screen time rules had totally gone out the window. It had become a free for all. Youtube streaming nonstop. Roblox battles between siblings. Xbox Fortnite tournaments lasting well past 8pm. And I just didn't care. I lost all will to challenge them on the rules. I had no fight left in me.
Until, I realized, that I dreaded Saturday morning. Because Saturday - we had no plans. And that meant my kids would be glued to their screens - ALL DAY. So - I called a family meeting. I sat my kids down at the kitchen counter, and I had them listen to the part of the F*cking Sober podcast, where I actually wrote about my frustrations without realizing it and had made it a part of this podcast a few weeks before. They listened to other people's voices act our their characters - Briggs, Connor and Poppy, and they laughed at the storyline. "That is so not something I would say, mom!" Brayden said... After we laughed at the scene, I asked them to seriously consider why I had them listen to my podcast. And they all seemed to understand. And we then discussed how this is actually a reflection of our lives. How Betsy felt there in that scene - frustrated and at a loss as a mom - that's how I felt in the moment with them in real life.
My three kids respectfully listened to me, and they were not defensive. I was worried they would fight and try to make arguments in favor of more screen time. But it was the opposite. They were compassionate, and they seemed to listen with open ears and hearts. We took turns sharing ideas of how to change things around our house for the better. Evan helped facilitate the discussion, but he isn't as immersed in it as I am. He doesn't have the kids running up to him ten times a day asking for him to put in the passcode to their iPads for fifteen more minutes of FaceTime. I am in charge of all of that.
We came to a new screen time agreement and consensus, and it felt great to have such an honest and mature conversation with my 8, 10 and 12 year old. Evan and I reflected after the fact, that any other weekend a few years ago, this conversation would never have taken place. I would have been way too hungover to deal with such a problem with my children. I would have rolled over in bed and begged them to keep playing on their screens, while I popped another couple of Advil.
Today, I am so happy to know that even when I make mistakes as a mother, I am able to actively think and reflect and fix my mistakes. I am not perfect by any means. I just told Brayden today, that I continue to learn and screw up everyday. But I know that I can do that with the confidence and clarity of a sober mind and body.