Today was a good day. It was nothing like yesterday. Yesterday was a hard parenting day. There was screaming, spankings, fighting and no coffee. When my husband came home he found three emotionally spent girls, even though one of us had a three hour nap. I thought, “Three hour nap? Yes please!” That was before bedtime; before the constant need of something or other well into the night.
The good thing about being seconds away from emotional breakdown is the understanding from my husband that I needed to go out alone for an hour. That’s all I needed to reign in those feelings.
I should say usually; usually that’s all I need. Yesterday seemed to be a bit of a breaking point, because I still came home and cried after my venture out. There wasn’t more mom guilt than usual, but there was an undercurrent of failure. I could blame it on the stress of summer (or lack of caffeine in my system) but I know SAHMs with more kids than me and they aren’t falling apart, at least, not that they’re letting on.
Last night I played all the fights and yelling back to back in my mind. My kids are 2 (almost 3) and 5 (almost 6); why do I set such unattainable standards for them? Hindsight is always 50/50, and in those moments of lucidity I see the responses I should’ve made, the things I should’ve said and the way I should’ve acted. I see them in stark contrast to the way it actually played out. All I could think was that my kids were going to end up screwed up or terrified of me. I felt certain I was utterly failing this mom thing.
After tucking the girls in and reminding them tomorrow was a new day with new grace, I started to think about that for myself. I don’t want to hold onto yesterday. I want them to make better decisions but I also want myself to make better decisions. I want to be able to take every revelation from every blog post I’ve written and actually apply it. I want my words to mean something. I want to actually live out loud.
So, I made an effort to follow through, starting with my Bible. It was like coming home to an old friend. Of course, I didn’t think of it until I was tossing and turning, but at least I thought of it. I started listening to Matthew as I slept. Around 3:30, after waking up with my youngest, I rewound it to the last place I heard and when I got up this morning I was in Luke.
You know what? Today was a good day. I was able to have a day that included 2 YO tantrums, sibling fights and park time without Mommy Monster making an appearance. I didn’t resort to screaming loud enough for my eyes to hurt (yeah, that’s a real thing). I didn’t stomp my foot or grip my hair (I never claimed my yelling wasn’t childish). I was lucid through and through. I did raise my voice (I’m still me), but sometimes that’s necessary.
We enjoyed an hour at the park and I didn’t keep my phone out. My youngest ate two bites at each meal and I didn’t feel the call of a straight jacket by the end. Neither of my kids slept during nap, but when I went in to check on them we laughed instead of screamed. We kissed a lot and said I love you constantly. My oldest said, “dammit,” on film while we made a boat load of homemade play dough for her YouTube channel. I claimed full responsibility for that, then Dave and I laughed.
I had a moment, as the best of us do, but it wasn’t directed at the kids. My husband good naturedly laughed while I gave him a proper set down. I can’t say whether or not the laughing helped his cause, but I do know he tried to respond in kind twice before I gave him a piece of my mind. It wasn’t right (it felt right, though it wasn’t), but baby steps.
Today I was having a discussion with a friend about someone I know blaming me for our poor relationship. I had mentioned it wasn’t my fault they put nothing into it; relationships don’t work if only one of us wants it. It made me wonder how often God feels that way. How often is it Him putting in all the work? He wants the best for us. He wants a relationship with us. Those two things are exclusive: when you have relationship with Him, your life is better and significantly easier to go through.
The biggest challenge was putting God back into play, followed by choosing my parenting battles for real. I back slid a little in the wife department, but I scrambled back up. I think if we were all a little more honest with our ups as well as our downs we wouldn’t feel so alone; we wouldn’t feel so unredeemable.
What I know is this: I listened to my Bible all night long and today was a good day.
What are some of your parental triumphs or learning moments?