Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012
Take a husband and wife, twins, 2 big kids and...voila! blended family

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Labels…An Epic Mommy Fail

My day ended with me sitting on a stool crying, head in hands, utterly disappointed and thoroughly defeated as a Mommy. I'm quick to point out my fabulous days as a mother…though I wish there were more…but I tend not to share my complete failures. And tonight, I was taught a massive lesson by one of my five year olds.
Most of you who read this blog are pretty familiar with our twins, Max and Luke. I'm famous for saying, "It's always Luke." Pee on your brother? Oh that was Luke. Paint the cat? Luke. Wreck a friend's car? Luke. Smash a dozen sodas in the driveway? Luke again. You see, it's just always Luke. He's "that twin."
Max has no hilarious stories. He's just not the type. When he's alone in a room I don't worry. When I can't find him immediately I don't worry that he's setting a fire. His antics are…just completely unremarkable. He's loving and kind. We cannot make him defend himself. He won't fight back, won't cross the line…He's just a very old soul and a very good boy.
Have you ever, as a parent, labeled your kids? It's innocent enough. You want to give a glimpse of your kids by way of introduction to others. I do it all the time. I'll say "This is Luke and this is Max. Max is a lover and this one? Luke? he's trouble." It's meant as a term of endearment…because while Luke tests me daily, he is phenomenal. He's helpful and sweet, he's nearly obsessed with learning and knowing how to do everything. He's the leader. But, he's also a stinker. And he knows it. So it just stands to reason that we'd shake our heads, give a wry smile, and say, "Whew, this one? THIS one is gonna give us gray hairs." I never meant anything by it…It just…it's become Luke's identity. Something I didn't realize until a cataclysmic moment tonight when every introduction came home to roost.
The boys had been running wild all day. This evening they were roughhousing in our room and Max came crying to us…"Luke just stepped on my face very hard and it hurts." I jumped up, ran into the bedroom, and counted till Luke came out from under the bed. I then took him by the hand and sat him in timeout in the darkened dining room. I waited the obligatory 5 minutes, then went in and got down on his level and said in a very quiet voice, "Buddy, this has to stop. Max is your brother. He is your best friend. You cannot hurt him. You must stop hurting him." Sounds good right? Straight out of the Dr. Phil/Super Nanny handbook. I did it all correctly. Right? Wrong. He looked at me, dissolved into tears and said, "But I can't stop Mommy." I asked why. He put his hands to his face, sobbed and said, "Because i'm trouble Mommy. I'm always trouble. I never get to be the lover. I'm the bad one." Wow. I scooped him up and held him tightly to my chest. I told him, "Oh no honey no…You ARE a lover. You are wonderful." He shook his head emphatically. "No i'm not Mommy. I'm trouble. That's what you tell everybody. Max is the lover and i'm the trouble. I can never be good b/c i'm a'sposed to be bad."
I asked him, "Does it hurt your feelings when Mommy and Daddy say that?" And he nodded his head. "Yes Mommy, because i'm a lover too. I know I am." I can honestly say i've never felt worse as a mother. This wasn't losing my temper or showing some tough love. This has been a systematic dismantling of a kid's soul with a simple label. This is something that, while said in jest, will take months to reprogram. I failed him. And you know what? I failed Max too. Because I elevated his good behavior to make him seem to be the favored child. And, trust me, I spent my life being "the good one." It's no favor to do to a kid.
And suddenly I wonder…is that why Luke is so obsessed with his appearance lately? Why he has to be dressed up? Why he does his hair, wants cologne, asks me if he's handsome. Has he been trying desperately to be better and seen his appearance as the way to do it? My God. So why share here? Why on earth lay bare the massive mistake i've made? Because i've heard some of you commiserate with me. You label your kids too. It's such a normal mommy thing to do. And i'm telling you…take it from me. STOP. Right now. It's not cute. It's not funny. It's a mistake. I just hope I'm not too late to change what i've done to Luke. Because it's funny…I can almost trace his radically bad behavior back to when I started to use that label. It's ramped up dramatically and i've wracked my brain as to why. But now I know. And so do you. I only hope tomorrow will be better.

1 comment:

  1. I sorta think you take your pragmatism and pragmatic approach from me. And you analyze something, an action or a behavior or what, and then you apply the pragmatic title to it. Nothing bad intended, but it hit its mark and you are so great to have realized it and to take action. Luke will be fine, and Max will be tougher. And you will continue to be a great mom.