Parenting is Hard - And I Let Down My Son

Last night, I had a parental failure: I let down my kiddo.

Not because I didn't buy him a toy he wanted or made him go to bed earlier. No, I broke a promise I'd made to him and it was all my fault. The tears of a broken-hearted child are one of the biggest pains you can feel as a parent!

I had promised him that on this Friday, we'd go to Great America. Actually, I've been promising him all summer that we'd go. Because of baseball and cross country and lots of little things, we'd come down to the last possible weekend to go. He loves roller coasters. He loves water slides. And getting to experience a double whammy of roller coasters AND waterslides was epic. I was making arrangements for kiddo#2 (who does NOT like roller coasters and waterslides) when a sickening realization came over me.

He had practice scheduled. As in, their first cross country meet is Saturday morning, and Friday is their last practice (when they're still learning how to pass the baton for relays) and he really shouldn't miss it. Plus, I'd volunteered to drive for another child, too.

Guilt swept over me, saturating every inch of my well-intentioned self. I've made plenty of mistakes before. I've faced bosses. I've faced teachers. I've faced my hubs. But I don't think I've EVER been more anxious than that long, arduous walk upstairs to my son's room to break the news. He's an awesome kid. When I can't make a baseball game because of work, he's the one patting me on the back and saying it's okay, he understands. When I can't get to a school musical in the middle of the day because of prior obligations, he's the one assuring me he'll sing the songs again when he gets home; he understands. Those moments where I need to miss things are few and far between, but they do happen and he handles them with more grace than most kiddos I like to think. But this, well, this wasn't missing something. This was breaking a promise.

"Buddy, I messed up, and it turns out we aren't going to be able to go to Great America on Friday. But I'm looking at late September or October - we can go during Fright Fest. It's really neat," I said, trying to slide some of that guilt off by replacing it with an exciting secondary option.

Tears basically exploded from his eyes, which is not typical for him. And the tears piled on more guilt. Deserved guilt. Mama-failure guilt. I wondered if I should start in with the "Life isn't always fair, sometimes things like this happen and we have to learn how to handle them" speech, but I knew it wasn't the right time, and that speech would only have been to try and lessen my guilt.

I sent my little boy to bed with snuggles, although the tears still clung to his eyelashes long after he fell asleep. We had a fun day on Friday, complete with giant slides and mini-golf and go-carts and arcade games and ice cream. And that night when it was bed time, he told me that it was the best day ever.

It's moments like this that remind me of one of my favorite quotes: While we try and teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. He didn't bring up Great America once on Friday, and not once did he act like it wasn't the greatest day of his life. Whether he'd forgotten about Great America (unlikely) or was making the best of the situation, he acted in a way that I know many adults don't (myself included at times) when something doesn't go their way - positively, and with class. I am one lucky mama!


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