I started my day out like many of us do. All the best intentions. Today, I won’t yell, I will keep my temper, I will be the mom I know I can be.
Then, within the first hour of consciousness in my home, the fights and yelling between my children begin, and I can feel that promise I made myself slip away.
I spent a great deal of my time and energy being so hard on myself over my inability to hold it together all the time in front of my children. In my weak moments of anger, frustration, sadness, feeling completely spent and exhausted, I would try so damn hard to not show all of that to them.
They are small humans, they don’t need my problems put on them. They need an ideal environment to grow in, right?
Well, after some soul searching, coupled with wonderful appointments with my therapist and vulnerable conversations with friends and family, I came to realize a very important piece of the puzzle that I carry with me every day.
My children need to see real emotions.
They need a safe space to witness emotions in others and in themselves, and that space is my home, where I can talk with them and help them through it all. So, I began using my weak moments as a time to teach them about normalizing a full spectrum of emotions, and let me tell you, it is one of the greatest gifts I have felt in motherhood thus far.
Let me paint you a picture.
My boys are playing nicely together in the living room. I am getting my housework done, the baby is happy, things are going great. Then I hear that certain tone in my son’s voice, and they are full on fighting within moments, and everything goes sideways. I can feel my blood pressure rising.
Please, just let me finish this one thing, then I can mediate your fight, and everything will be alright. Their fighting escalates, and my oldest pushes his little brother down in a moment of anger. PLEASE! Can I please just get this crossed off my list?! PLEASE, BOYS!
Then something inside me snaps, and shit gets real.
I lose my temper in a big way, I yell, I unload some things that frustrate me about their behavior, and maybe throw a thing or two. Shortly after the outburst, my house is quiet again, I can feel my blood pressure coming down, and the regret sets in.
Why do I do this? Why am I like this? What happened to the gentle guiding I prefer to use to help my children understand things instead of scaring them into behaving? Where did all of this go left?
This is where that wonderful gift swoops in to save the day. I give myself a few moments to take some deep breaths and calm down, and I reach out to my kids. Boys, can you come over here? I want to talk to you.
I make it a point to apologize for my behavior, because ultimately, it is not how I want to be or who I want to be, and I need them to understand that they deserve to be treated and spoken to better than that.
I talk to them about my emotions, and how their actions made me feel, and that I need to be able to handle myself better than that. I also open up an opportunity for them to tell me how I made them feel. At the end, we always promise together that we will try to be better next time. Because let’s face it, there will be a next time.
I have learned invaluable lessons about forgiveness from my children.
They are so quick to forgive and love on you, even right after a total and utter meltdown. It brings me to tears sometimes, honestly. Some days they drive me bananas, some days I feel totally unworthy of their love and compassion, often it is both.
Listen, if you broke down all of the little things you do for your children and looked at it subjectively, it would be TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE for the person orchestrating all of that chaos to lose it once in a while.
I’m losing it a little bit right now just thinking about my own list, to be honest! But we, as mothers, really need to cut ourselves (and each other) some slack. This shit is hard but, as we all know, totally worth it, even if some days we are white knuckling it until bedtime.
I’m not sure where we, as a society, began expecting more from children then we expect from adults, but I think it is high time we begin to rethink that notion and give our tiny humans, and ourselves, some grace.