Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Those days don't define you

Last night I tucked the boy into bed, none too motherly, after a very long day.

My favourite part of the day, he said, was when I was in my room by myself, because then you weren't yelling at me.

Oh, my heart.

It was that sort of a day. I had grumbled about messes and yelled about noise and commanded unkindly - hurry, faster - and followed up with more grumbling and more yelling.

And then I topped it off with a particularly shining moment when, in an effort to reconnect, my beautiful boy brought me a beautiful collage he'd made for me, and my response was to express dismay that in doing so, he had unknowingly cut up a parcel delivery receipt I needed. His voice cracked as he apologized and left the room; I found him a moment later, sobbing heartbroken cries in his bedroom.

I fell asleep later that night with tears of my own dried on my face.

I'm so tired and everyone needs me and I just want to be taken care of instead. Meals cooked, house cleaned, someone tucking me into bed and sitting beside me until I've drifted off to much-needed sleep. And most days I get by. I nap when I can and I gratefully eat food cooked by a kind husband. I try to keep a quiet schedule. I let some things go. Even so, some days get the better of me and I bumble my way through them, so very human in my weakness.

But those days don't define me. They don't define my children's childhood, either.

Most nights as I tuck them into bed, our bedtime conversations are filled with good memories from the day and hopeful plans for tomorrow. And when those bad days come, I am not left helpless.

I apologize. After the boy shared with me his favourite part of the day - when I was in my room by myself - I finished getting them into bed and left. I wallowed in my self-pity for a few minutes. I'm a terrible mother, I'm messing it all up, woe is me. And then I went back. I apologized for my poor behaviour that day. I acknowledged my wrongdoings. I sought forgiveness. My children need my humble and sincere apologies as much as they need my unconditional love. They need to know that they are worthy, that they don't deserve to be treated poorly, and that my mistakes are not excused simply because I'm an adult.

I reconnect. As always, he held no grudges. Few things are as complete as a child's forgiveness. We snuggled there in dark and reconnected after a day of disconnection. I listened to him as he talked about designing cars one day, and maybe Lego kits too, and why did you decide not to have a job when you grew up, Mommy? How quickly perspective is restored when I am reminded that this right here is my dream, my choice. Since when are dreams to be expected to come easily, without sweat and sacrifice and perseverance?

I seek balance. Sacrifice is required, yes, but so is self-care. Put on your own oxygen mask first. After a good cry, I went to bed early last night. I fed myself well this morning. I took a few minutes to be alone and mentally prepare myself for the day. Today I will minimize my distractions in order to prevent frustrations, and tonight I will rest. I cannot meet the needs of these little ones if I have failed to take care of my own needs as well.

Today there is peace. Yesterday's failures do not define our lives unless we allow them to consume us. Instead, I choose grace, letting those days fall away like dead skin so that I can move forward with today, new and clean and lighter.

May your day be filled with peace as well.

27 comments:

  1. Oh how the past few days have been like this for me as well, I dont know if its pregnancy hormones or what but my nerves feel shot and my kids feel it. I keep declaring Gods goodness. this too shall pass

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  2. Lately my habit seems to be trying to be as nice as possible when Raiden is being frustrating (which is often, lately), and then, after bottling it up all day, snapping at him and letting it all explode out over something silly at bedtime. *Sigh.* I'm definitely an advocate of apologizing to your kid(s) when you realize that your behavior was inappropriate, and to make sure they know that even though they did whatever thing it was that made me snap, it was MY responsibility to handle that appropriately and I didn't. My sweet boy... he nearly always starts tearing up when I apologize to him after a bad Mommy moment.

    Last night was one of those. He told me that when I yell at him it makes him feel sad, like I don't love him and like he isn't special. I told him that I always love him and he is always special, and thanked him for explaining his feelings to me so well. I told him I'd remember that that's how it makes him feel, and I'll try a lot harder to handle things better.

    Funny enough, I was wondering last night if you ever have not-so-gentle Mommy moments. Glad to know it happens everywhere :).

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  3. You're human. Deal with it ;)

    Love your stories, your view on parenting... and life.
    For so many people, not yelling is the exception. Your son is one happy boy :)

    Take good care of yourself!

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  4. Thank you for voicing this. With a 2-year old and a 3-year that I adore but that also push me to my absolute limits, I find myself mumbling to myself often these days, "I am a terrible mother." Reading your words was so soothing.

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  5. I have to apologize to my children as well... even when they are 13 and 17; even when they push the limits; I am reminded that I am still responsible for MY actions/reactions regardless of what they did or didn't do. Love your sweet posts. Thank you for being willing to encourage others in your vulnerabilty/transparency.

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  6. I feel like I could cry. I know exactly what you felt, HH. Much love to you. Apologizing is so important and it does make them feel better. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. beautiful, we all have days like that :)
    My sons not old enough to say those words but when i have been cranky I can see the hurt on his face and like you I try to apologise when I realise I am the one being cranky and silly

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  8. What a lovely post. It gave me goosebumps as I was reading it because we've all had days like that. My little guy is 20 mo. and sometimes I find myself frustrated when we've had a long day (esp. without a nap!) and feel bad if I get short with him. Thank you for sharing how you seek balance and make peace with days like that!

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  9. Gosh I felt like the words were spilling out my mouth as I read this. You even had tears welling up in my eyes remember my not too fine moments as well. I've said sorry too and I hope this teaches them that we are all human and that saying sorry is very important if you hurt someone.

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  10. Beautifully said! So many days I feel this way. Thank God for unending Grace.

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  11. Ah, those days. We've all had them. They don't define us but they are part of the whole human experience - making mistakes and making up afterwards. Glad you're feeling better today!

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  12. Oh your post grabbed at my heart. We all have days like this and thank you for reflecting and sharing about yours. So glad to have found your beautiful blog

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  13. This is so beautiful. As mamas, we all hit those limits and what a wonderful way to handle it. To apologize, to reconnect, to have a cleansing cry and start tomorrow anew. You are so right, we all have those days, but they aren't what defines us as parents.

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  14. I recently wrote along the same lines last week.
    http://themahoganyway.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/thursday-talk-perfection-not-required/

    Our kids show so much forgiveness and unconditional love. I learn from them daily. Beautiful, honest post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  15. Thank-you for posting this. Sometimes my kids get bad attitudes and all I can do is check myself. Even though I can kid myself into believing I can justify my attitude better it doesn't mean it doesn't rub off on the children. Thiking about how God see's us and our children can make all the difference. He defines us.

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  16. This is such a wonderful post because it is so true, these moments, these though days, they don't define us or our children's childhoods. I am a huge believer in apologizing, reconnecting and trying again, and again...

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  17. Kayla NicholsonMay 02, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    Tears are in my eyes as I speak. I needed this; Thank you. I have these days and I feel soooo bad. Just horrible. I'm glad I am not alone.<3

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  18. How timely. I had one of those days yesterday as well. It was horrible, and while I took the same steps as you (apologizing, reconnecting, etc.) I really appreciate reading "But those days don't define me. They don't define my children's childhood, either." I think I needed to read that.

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  19. Thank you for your post. I have had a day like this (yesterday) with a sick 2yr old and an almost 4yr old that isn't taking no or redirection or even "choose between these two options" as viable critique/help. He was up until 11pm and then I was up until 2am with the 2yr old, and I'm not well myself.

    Grace is for mamas too.

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  20. Oh how I needed to read this. Thank you.

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  21. I feel the same some days, where I'm just so frustrated that everyone needs me. Then I sit back and think this is only for a short time and I need to step back and take a few minutes and re-focus. We are only human and I love the fact that you say you are sorry and all the love that comes from your story. I am only Mother to 1, but I feel like I have a house full some days. Thanks for sharing your stories!

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  22. Many times I feel this way, and we all often feel like we are the only ones not coping all the time.

    Thanks for sharing, you made me feel like not such a bad mother.

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  23. beautifully written, this post really touched me

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  24. I just wanted to say thank you for being honest! I have been on a crazy jouney with the Lord this last year about what being a true wife and mom looks like. I always thought I knew, haha! Anyway, reading this brought me so much peace that I am right where I need to be, doing just what I sopose to be doing at this time in my life! So thank you! Bethany

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  25. Well, you really hit a nerve here, huh? All of us trying so hard and all of us having these moments and many of us feeling alone in it. Like a monster, sometimes for myself. I especially related to the bottling it up all day, then SNAP, that your reader wrote. Thanks for being honest, and truthfully, it would be great if mom's shred so many more of these moments. It would help to take the Supermom pressure off, self-acceptance is a wonderful thing to teach, too. And feelings and that there's lots of them! :)

    Anyway, thanks!

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  26. A most wonderful point of view, and I especially love this part: "My children need my humble and sincere apologies as much as they need my unconditional love. They need to know that they are worthy, that they don't deserve to be treated poorly, and that my mistakes are not excused simply because I'm an adult." So very true. All too often parents do not apologize to their children when they are in the wrong. Lead by example.

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