It’s Not You, It’s Me

The kiss of death for any relationship.  Can I see a show of hands, ladies?  How many of you actually used this cliche line when breaking a poor boy’s heart.  Relentless, we ladies are.  But I’m not here to talk about relationships.  I snagged my man a long time ago and have never once even considered breaking things off.  I know a good catch when I find one and me? I got a good catch.

I’m talking about parenting.  You know…’cause I’m a Mom Blog (Capital ‘M’ Capital ‘B’).   About 6 weeks ago I sat down with a friend to discuss the ins and outs of homeschooling.  Have I mentioned we’re considering that for next year?  I haven’t?  Ah…that’s another post for another day.  But, yes, we are.  I began considering it before we knew we were going to move and now I’m considering it because we’re going to move.  I’ll explain more later.

As I soaked in this veteran homeschool mom’s wisdom (her oldest just graduated high school) I relayed to her my fears.  My biggest fear was what if I can’t do it? What if it ruins my relationship with my child to be with him all day long?  What if a wall of bitterness comes between us?  What if I fail?

I didn’t like her answer.  I mean, I did.  But I didn’t.  *sigh*  I’m not making much sense, am I?

“I’ve found,” she said in her sweet and gentle way, “that whenever I am having personality conflicts with one of my kids, it’s usually my heart issue that needs to be dealt with.”

BAM! Right to the gut.  You mean I have to take responsibility for my own actions?  Parenting doesn’t give me a free BecauseISaidSo pass?!  No body mentioned this to me when I left the hospital with my bundles of joy, by the way.  There was no sign on the way out that read, “WARNING: Parenting is hard work and more than likely when you lose your patience it will be your fault and not the child’s.”

But the thing is, I know she’s right.  I’ve known that a long time, but I haven’t really sat and simmered with that understanding.  When I lose my temper with my kids, 9 times out of 10 the problem is mine.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll give you an example.

Yesterday I took the kids on a bit of a Tour de St. Louis.  We hit up the City Garden, the St. Louis Science Center and the Loop all in the span of about six hours.  And it required a lot of in and out of the (smokin’ hot) minivan.  I don’t know about your kids, but something happens to mine when they step inside a van.  Whatever it is is definately not hot.  The second they sit in their seats, it’s starts.

“Mom! Landon’s copying me!”

“Mom, Sloan called me a dodo-head!”

“Mom! Tia stuck her tongue out at me!”

“Mom! I’m being bullied!”

And on and on it goes until I’m blue in the face.  My grandmother, when her kids were making her crazy like this, used to get in their faces and say, “My name’s not Mom anymore.  It’s horses butt and you’re not allowed to say that so you can’t call me anymore.”  Can I tell you how tempted I’ve been to pull that line out of my back pocket?  I think her sister had a little bit of a spicer version of that line that she used on her kids…

So, riding in the car?  Not so fun.  Sloan tends to take the brunt of the pestering because he gives the biggest reaction.  Lee and I are constantly telling him to ignore them and let us be the parents.  He has a tendency to…ahem…step in and take matters into his own hands.  This usually winds up with him in trouble.  He’s slowly learning that lesson.

So yesterday we spent some time driving and by the third time in the van everyone was a little frayed.  We had been having a lot of fun and everyone had behaved marvelously, until they got in the van and it started immediately.

And I snapped.  I turned into that mom.  The one that looks all wild and huffy.  I pulled over on the side of the road and let loose – bad mommy style.  As I drove down the street again, oppression set into my chest.  I glanced in the rearview mirror at my kids faces.  They were quiet, Sloan had tears in his eyes and I felt terrible.

It wasn’t them.  It was me.  I was tired and a little fried from a long morning.  Tia and Landon had been merciless in their pestering of Sloan and he had snapped, but he was tired too.  And he’s only 7.  I’m old enough to supposedly know how to control myself.  So I pulled the car over again.  I asked them to forgive me for losing my temper and hugs went around to all.

Then we sang “Kumbaya.”  It was beautiful.

When I lose my patience with my kids, it’s my fault.  Because the kids are just acting like…kids.  Generally I lose my patience when I haven’t taken the time to really deal with an issue.  I brush it aside until it escalates out of control then I look at the kids like it’s their fault.  But if I would just take the time to deal with things instantly, we wouldn’t have the escalation. All it requires on my part is a little bit of time, energy and focus.  Lazy parenting is not allowed.

It’s not them…it’s me.  Can anyone else relate to this?


  1. I think that takes alot of guts to admit that maybe – just maybe – you are part of the problem too…and reading your post opened my eyes to the fact that I behave in much the same way as you did – letting it escalate until you snap. I think I’ll take your words of wisdom to heart and try to be a bit better at NOT being a lazy parent 🙂

    Incidentally, my 12yr old likes to play “parent” to his younger sibling…HOW do you get them to cut that out??? Drives me batty!

    • Jen, I don’t know. I think it’s the curse of the first born. I try to make sure I really commend him when he does it right. That’s the best I’ve been able to figure out. 🙂

  2. Oh yes. I’ve definitely learned that whenever my kids are driving me crazy, it’s usually because I’m not being patient, attentive, fully available to them, etc. This parenting gig is exhausting, yo.

  3. I’ve realized that I don’t expect my kids to act like kids. I expect them to act like miniature adults. And I expect that for the convenience of other people. It’s kind of fun telling an old grumpy woman “what do you expect? They are kids! (want to deal with adults, go to a bar. Or a retirement center”.

    • Yep. I hear ya. I went to a Chip Ingram study not long ago and one of the things he said that’s stuck with me is what do we expect our kids to say when we ask the question, “What were you thinking?!” Most of the time they aren’t thinking. Because they’re kids and they’re impulsive. So why ask a question with no good answer, right? 🙂

      Although sometimes I do wish I could figure out what they’re thinking…

  4. Totally getcha. Like Jessica said, when I become “Mrs. Attitude,” it’s usually because my attention is elsewhere and they are distracting me from my own selfish ambition.

    BTW, we’re doing something new with school this year, too. I’m a bit nervous about the change, so I totally getcha on that point as well. (I’m teaching at a university model school, which means the kids will be in class 3x week and schooling at home 2–in the case of The Youngest, she will only be in class X2 and working at home X3. *bites fingernails*)

    • That’s WONDERFUL! That’s actually something I would really, really like to find. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

      • Check out They might be able to tell you if there are any university model schools in your area. They are typically Christian schools, but not always. It’s very family-centered. I’ll keep you posted…

        • Thanks Megan. I’m fascinated by this schooling option. I think it’s a GREAT idea! There will be one in our area, but it’s pretty far from where we’re looking at houses so we’ll see what happens. 🙂

  5. Sigh..oh yes Ma’am…I can really relate. I am learning that God is refining MY character by making me a mom. My little guy was reduced to tears the other day by my sharp tongue. I was annoyed by everything else that had happened in the past few hours. I let it build up and BAM. A small thing was blown out of proportion by me and precious little feelings were hurt. It is so hard to apologize to them sometimes, but I knew I was wrong. He had made an innocent mistake and I jumped all over him. It’s very humbling to be a parent. Balance is everything.

  6. A great post, Kelli! A good message on parenting. We lose patience at times because we can be tired or just thinking about the solution to some problem and kids can just distract us. But they behave like kids, they can’t behave like miniature adults. They don’t understand the rules of adulthood. And when we lose temper, it’s our fault, not theirs. You are so right in saying this. No, No, NO to lazy parenting if we want our kids to be emotionally stable and being able to control their own emotions and bad moods. Reading about the tears in Sloan’s eyes, I remember the situations when I saw tears in Ulyana’s eyes, the situations when I lost temper. She was queit and obedient after such talks but her tears showed me that she didn’t like that Mom, that she was even afraid of that Mom, that she wanted her own loving Mom back. I think that in situations when I lose my temper, my sweet daughter doesn’t understand her own fault up to the end, she just sees that her own Mom disappearing and a new furious Mom coming. That makes her scared and doesn’t teach anything. Parenting is the hardest job ever. Thank you for this post, Kel, for these wise thoughts.

  7. Ulyana’s a blessed little girl, Sveta! And her sibling will be equally blessed to have a Mama like you. Love you!