A Kinder, Gentler, Machine Gun Kim

“Don’t be yourself — be someone a little nicer.”

Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook

I really want this blog to be an uplifting, empowering place where we can all speak freely about living and sharing kindness.   But more then anything else – I want it to be a place of truth.  However, truth is not always pretty and Pollyanna.  Truth can be hard, raw and even a bit painful – but I believe that in truth there is beauty.

So far, my journey has been focused on doing kind acts for others – mostly random strangers.  There is something really gratifying about helping a stranger.  In one sense it’s an ego boost (look at how kind I am!) and in another sense it’s a heart warmer (they really needed me – I did good today!) but overall it’s about making an immediate, tangible impact.

However, I’ve come to realize that I don’t put anywhere near the effort into being kind to my loved ones that I put into being kind to strangers.   It’s not that I don’t think my family deserves my kindness – quite the contrary – but more like they don’t NEED it the way others do.  They are my family, know they have my love and that should be enough.  Except, well,  it isn’t.

Case in point. A few days ago the kids and I were doing our summer thing – hanging at the pool.  We swam, we ate, we chilled – it was a good day.  Except I got a bit too much sun.  And by the time 4pm rolled around I was rockin’ the worlds WORST headache.  One of those brain thumpers that sits right in the middle of your forehead and is damn relentless.  So I popped a Tylenol or two, had some extra water and got on with it.  Except the pain just DID NOT go away and we still needed to run some errands.  We hit Target then decided to grab dinner at Panda Express.   My head still hurt and I could tell I was running low on patience.  The entire way over to PE the kids just bickered.  We get to the restaurant and there is a line – so I settle them into the table next to me .   They would NOT stop fighting.  They pushed, they argued, and despite my glares kept it up.  I even did the “Mom Whisper” – telling them that if they DID NOT stop fighting we would leave the restaurant.  They called my bluff.  At that exact moment I turned to see Harlyn punch Hayden square in the stomach.  IN THE RESTAURANT!  In front of the put together, extremely well behaved Mom/Daughter duo behind me and the crabby Grandpa dude that had already been shaking his head and giving me looks about my misbehaving hellions.

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What? These two fight? I don’t believe it!

That was it.  My head pounding, I grabbed both my kids and escorted them by their little arms right out of the restaurant.  On the way – things were said.  Unkind things.  About disappointment.  Lack of dinner. Inability to appreciate everything they had.  And general disrespect for me as their mother.  I was on a roll and nothing was going to stop me.  When we finally got home I promptly walked down to my bedroom, shut the door and stayed there until hubs came home an hour or so later.

So, why am I telling you this?  Why highlight a pretty terrible parenting moment that I feel kinda awful about? After I finally had a chance to settle down, and my headache subsided, I felt really bad.  I KNEW in that moment that my kids weren’t benefiting from this kindness experience – because I would NEVER say those things or act that way to a stranger!  Strangers get the Kim that is “just a little bit nicer” then my true self.  And my kiddos – they get the Kim that is “just a little bit meaner” – how sad is that?

The next morning – I sat both the kids down and told them I was sorry.  That they were NOT disappointments and were,  in fact, my greatest source of pride.  That I was wrong for acting the way I did.  And that I would try to be a better Mom going forward but I am just a person and sometimes make mistakes.  It’s really important that my kids understand adults are just people – and aren’t perfect and occasionally do and say the wrong things – but there is always a chance to apologize and try to make it right.

It was a great eye opening experience for me and one of the first big lessons I’ve learned so far.  I can only hope as the year progresses I become more aware of myself, my actions and the affect on everyone around me – and as a result – work and strive towards being a much nicer version of myself.  My family deserves it – and I do too.


29 Responses to A Kinder, Gentler, Machine Gun Kim

  1. I would have probably done the same thing, so don’t beat up on yourself. Mothers aren’t perfect but for some reason are expected to rise above the stress of the moment. Be kind to yourself.

    Too be honest I have witnessed similar scenes and the mother caved to the poor behaviour of her children, who went on to expand their repertoire for the entire restaurants benefit. I would much rather see a mother call their bluff and lay down the law. You sound like you feel you went too far, well forgive yourself, they won’t pull that stunt again, even if it was totally out of character. Even the nicest kids are going to try mothers patience at some point.

    • Thanks – I hope they learned a lesson as well. I have no regrets about leaving the restaurant – I just wish I had toned down my reaction a tad. 🙂

  2. I know this all too well. Thanks for the putting this message front and center, as I am sure it will be helpful as we again transition into the busiest time of the year.

  3. I believe that one of the kindest things you can ever do is tell your children that you’re sorry. We all have moments in which we lose our temper, but what we do after that will ultimately make all the difference. I predict that your children will remember the fact that you apologized more so than the loss of temper. And I agree with another comment that they will think before they act badly in a restaurant next time!

    • Thank you – I hope so. I hate losing my temper and yelling and it’s something I’ve worked on my entire life – but especially since I’ve become a parent. It’s a work in progress but until I get to a place of peace I will continue to apologize when I’ve reacted poorly.

  4. Under those conditions it’s hard to find the right words at that immediate moment but I think you were right to remove your children from the restaurant. It’s not an unkindness to let your children know their behavior was a disappointment when they are really misbehaving. That’s responsible parenting.

    • I agree – but I don’t think my reaction was appropriate for the offense. I’m not sorry for removing them and I they understand what they did that was wrong – but I felt the way I responded was over the top which was what prompted my apology. Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Hey Kim, thanks for sharing. This reminded me of a Maya Angelou quote I try to remember: “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.”

  6. Wow, so honest. Thank you. I have two sons (7 & 8). Who sometimes are on the receiving end of my impatience. And I guess you could say, lack of kindness. It can be so hard. And then I am so guilt ridden that it can take hours until I can begin to feel better. Usually not until the next day. And what makes it worse is that I so often fel so alone in that place. Like the worst mom and the only one who would be so awful to her own kids. So, thanks for sharing that. And I guess we have to remember as moms to be kind with ourselves when we fall short.
    I’m really looking forward to all that is to come.

    • Katie – I think that is a great point – parenting can be so isolating. I’ve often felt like I was the only mother out there that has yelled and said things they’ve regretted to their kiddos. Which is why I always make it a point to apologize – not for the discipline per se – but they over the top reaction. In the end we are all just imperfect beings and we need to be kind to ourselves too!

  7. Been there and thanks for sharing! I remember one time my daughter, I think she was about three, had a full blown melt down in a store and I had to leave with her. As I tried to take her by the hand to leave, she dropped to the ground like a rag doll and started saying “owe, your hurting me!” Which was NOT the case but that little dear sure knew how to cause a scene! She is now 14 and very involved in theater.

    • LOL too funny – they certainly can be little drama machines when the mood strikes! Sounds like your girl just found her talents a little earlier then others! 🙂

  8. I think I am missing the point here, your behaviour sounds normal and what I would have done if my kids were behaving like that. What do you think you should have done, surely not allow them to carry on like that? Maybe leave the restaurant but not yell at them? I am just not understanding why you are beating yourself up for an understandable reaction. I hope your kiddos apologised also.

    • Hi Jenni. Thanks for the comment. The apology wasn’t for removing them from the restaurant but for the screaming, yelling and general over the top reaction that ensued once we got to the car. I’m not sorry for removing them at all – they deserved to be punished for their misbehavior – but the extent to which I took it and the words that were said were unnecessarily harsh. It’s something I’ve struggled with since becoming a parent so I’m always upset when I find myself reverting to that sort of behavior because it’s NOT the parent I want to be. Hope that makes more sense. 🙂

      • Thanks Kim, yes I get it now. I know what you mean as I have also lost it and said (Yelled!) really unkind words that were not even related to the behaviour at hand. Sometimes (to my regret) it was like a volcano exploded and I also apologised when that happened (and probably will happen again but I hope not!) Jenni

  9. I am not the parent I want to be every day. However, I am working on being her more often. I pray (often!) for more patience, and I see that I am (slowly!) becoming like the parent I want to be. Hang in there, become the woman you want to be.

    And I have totally been the horrible, harranging mother I do not like to see. But you move on, make improvements, and your children will forget most of the episodes you replay for yourself.

    • I agree. I had a friend once say “Progress – not perfection” and that stuck with me. I try to be better everyday – but realized it’s a marathon – not a sprint. I also think I make more of it then they do but it still stings to see that “imperfect” Mom

  10. Have you considered other ways to be kind besides kind acts for people you come in contact with? I’m thinking bigger picture like changing your shopping habits to reflect your values for workers (maybe that’s veggies from the farmers’ market instead of the grocery, or buying items not made in sweatshops), or eating a vegetarian diet out of kindness for animals and the earth’s resources? Just some thoughts on other ways that I think can bring peace to the world and to ourselves when we are more mindful.

  11. I have been there myself and can sympathize and empathize with what you said and did. There have been times where I would go to a store and before we even walk in tell my daughter that mom was just going to look around or just get X and of course my daughter sees something she wants and then the drama aka kicking and screaming ensues. Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to carry her out of the store. Do I feel bad of course I do but, there are times that she will just have to do without.

    • I’m ok with them doing without and learning a lesson – I’m not ok with me freaking out and losing my cool while teaching said lesson. LOL. 🙂

  12. It has HUGE impact when a parent apologizes. I also believe it teaches kids that parents (and all of us) make mistakes and how to behave when someone realizes they’ve made a mistake. Good for you for teaching them that no one is perfect and that we can all benefit from a little grace. What a difference a day makes on your perspective.