A rough mommy day
Yesterday was a rough mommy day. I was not patient, I was not kind. I heard the way I was speaking to my children, and while I didn’t like it, I couldn’t make it stop. My words were critical, my tone was startling, my threats were idle and they knew it.
Use a fork when you eat…Please just use your fork…I guess we just won’t use forks in this house anymore.
Be kind to your brother…Be kind or I’ll need to take the toys from both of you…Stop fighting.
Stop screaming. Stop running. Stop…..being a kid.
I locked my eyes with theirs, but my frustrations blinded me preventing me from truly seeing them. Until I took a breath, heard my own words, and paused. Then I saw into their very beings. I felt their sadness, but worst of all, I think I saw fear. They were afraid of what I would say next, unsure of the behavior that would lead to reproach. I was inconsistent, I was cranky, I was off my game.
I don’t have any false illusions about being a perfect mom (whatever perfect means), but in that moment, I saw my own cracks and realized I had forgotten to love. I had forgotten that it was possible to step down from my position as taskmaster and accomplish everything on my list while also being mommy. I had forgotten to be gentle and to tend to their spirits, not just their growling bellies, unmade beds and too-short pants.
In my desire to clean the house, make the meals, get the groceries, clean the closets, and buy new jeans for the little guy, I had overlooked what they wanted most – to be loved.
How much better it would have been for all of us if I would have looked into their big eyes sooner and stopped. How much less time and energy it would have taken to complete the list if I wasn’t scolding and lecturing and instead, if I would have hugged them and loved them.
The thing is, I know better. As a parenting lecturer, I am quite good at telling other parents how to manage their households. I offer helpful advice, such as:
- Lead with empathy.
- Ask questions to make them think about their choices.
- Speak softly.
- Help the child own the problem.
Most of the time I am able to follow my own advice, but when I slip, it’s not just a stumble, I fall hard and the recovery is not graceful. I forget the tips and techniques that I am so eager to teach and I become the student. I have to step back and recognize my own faults. This is where I see my imperfections and realize how grateful I am to see it today, because that means I can also be better today.
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About the Author
Jen Frey, health enews contributor, manages the Transportation Department at Advocate Condell Medical Center. Jen has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Aurora University. Jen’s favorite things include traveling with her children, exercising and finding a great bargain.