I’ve always tried to raise my girls in such a way that felt able to express what they were thinking and feeling. I’ve always done my best to be open when they’ve approached me, no matter what they’re approaching me with. Kiddo in particular is extremely self-aware (more than many adults I know, in fact) and can articulate very well what she’s thinking and feeling. Lil’ Mo isn’t far behind, either, and has certainly come a long way in the last couple of years. I’ve often found myself in situations when I’ve had to answer difficult questions or explain difficult things, thanks to their intelligence, their self-awareness, and their ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings so well.
This past Sunday night, after a great family weekend together, Kiddo hauled me into her room at bedtime to talk.
“Mommy…sometimes after I go to bed I can hear you and CBG talking….about me. And I’m pretty sure that not all of it is good stuff.”
Ouch. It’s true. I mean, we’re parents, after all. And we’re human. It’s not like we’re bitching about the girls after they head off to bed, but sometimes we need to hash things out. We live in a small house and apparently we’re not as quiet as we thought we were. Note to self: No more sex on the nights the girls are with us. To be clear, it’s not like we’re totally ragging on them or anything, just typical parent stuff. Frustration over their inability to go to bed on time, annoyance at the state of Kiddo’s bedroom, things like that. Because honestly, our girls are pretty awesome and there’s really not many negative things we have to say about them.
In that moment I was faced with a choice. I could deny and downplay and make it seem like “no big deal”. Or I could face the music — admit my wrongdoing and acknowledge her feelings.
I took a deep breath. “You’re right, honey. Sometimes we do talk about you and your sister after you go to bed, and not all of it is good. Everyone sometimes needs to be able to get things off their chest, and that’s what we do sometimes. It’s what all people do sometimes. I’m sorry that you heard us talking.”
I waited for what might come next, preparing myself for the worst.
She looked at me and said, “It’s not that I mind so much that you’re talking about me, it’s just that I would prefer if you did it when I couldn’t hear you.”
That kid never ceases to amaze me. Instead of being hurt and angry that we may have said some things that she didn’t like, she was able to recognize this as something that all people do, and just request that we do it a little more quietly. I am reminded of the Wayne Dyer quote, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” A lesson that I still struggle with myself from time to time.
I gave her a hug, apologized again, and told her that we would do our very best to make sure that she didn’t overhear us in the future. She was satisfied with that response and then went happily to bed.
As parents we’re never perfect, it’s just a plain fact of life. I can never pretend to be perfect, or even try, for that matter. All I can do is admit mistakes and attempt to do better next time. It’s all any of us can do, really.