Today was certainly one of those days; I’m attributing it to daylight savings time. And you know the funny part? My kids were (mostly) well-behaved, my hubs was perfectly nice (probably kind of afraid of me by mid-day) — I was the member of the family who was cranky, grumpy, and seriously needed (and welcomed) a time-out.
I shouldn’t have gone into the supermarket. I knew it before getting into the car. My kids, laughing and talking, just sounded plain irritating — which made me feel guilty. By the time we entered the store, I felt myself forcibly taking deep breaths (but not the right way, as I’m doing now, as I decompress and sip my coffee). “Keep your hands off the shelves!” We say in unison to our son, more than once, as we walk up and down the aisles.
I’m trying to mentally keep track of what we need with no list (the one time I came unprepared), as I visually track my kids strolling down the aisles like they own the place. We forgot to get about half the items on the list, by the way.
We arrive at the checkout line, and I’m just done. For no real foreseeable reason. I know this in my mind — I’m thinking this rationally, yet my body feels differently. I know that I need a brief time out, while allowing the kids to feel helpful and productive. “OK, unload the cart, please! Very carefully, use two hands.” My husband supervises as I sip my recently purchased iced coffee. We leave the store happier, calmer, and with at least some of the items on our list.
Later on in the day, I decide to proactively take measures to give myself some time to get things done and just have some time for myself as a person (something that I’m learning to really prioritize more), while providing my children with a meaningful job that helps our family unit (and expends energy!) Each child was given a rake, and they had a great time clearing up the front lawn.
I made sure before they went to bed, to tell them that I was sorry if I was grumpy (to a response of “Yes, you were!”), and that I love them always (to a universal, “We know!”)
Over the course of my journey as a mom, and as a therapist who speaks to parents often, I really want to impart the message that we should feel comfortable admitting that parenting is not a perfect process. We each have our own journey. There is no single guidebook, how-to-manual, that will tell you how to raise a child in a perfect way. And that shouldn’t be the goal. There’s no such thing.
To me, perfection is not the ideal. Instead, what we as individuals should focus on is what makes us unique: our quirks, our strengths and areas that we may wish to improve on. It is this spark that guides our heart into our children, and makes them the best people that they can be.
Lauren Brukner is a Senior Occupational Therapist and author who graduated with a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from New York University. She is a mom of three kids, ages 8, 7, and 5. She specializes in sensory integration and self-regulation strategies in children and young people, and their implementation in home, school, and community settings. She is an author with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and is the author of “The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control: Simple Stuff to Help Children Regulate Their Emotions and Senses” (July 2014), and “How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control!: Super Powers to Help Younger Children to Regulate their Emotions and Senses” (November 2015). She holds advanced training and certification in Integrated Listening Systems, and is a Certified Screener for Irlen Syndrome/Scoptic Sensitivity. She is a contributing author to Autism Parenting Magazine and Fireflyfriends Special Needs blog. She has appeared as a guest on The Autism Show and The Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s School-Home Connection. Her books have been listed as resources on websites such as Real Simple Magazine, Everyday Health, Aol’s Health and Wellness, MSN Health, and Friendship Circle, as well as Special Needs Book Review, among others. She blogs at www.awesomeandincontrol.com.
This article was featured in Issue 47 – Motherhood – An Unconditional Love