Do you ever catch yourself parenting terribly? Like, you’re in a mood and you can hear the seething impatience in your voice? The sound seems to fall on deaf ears but you are hyper aware of how it grates your own while simultaneously deflating your child?
No? Yeah… me either.
Hear me out though. If I did, tonight would be one of those times. The evening came down to a battle of wills and my daughter is one tough nut to crack. She gives zero f’s about timelines and bedtimes and people pleasing. Why worry about that when you can spend an hour in the tub going underwater again and again and again as your mom speaks over you in an increasingly agitated voice? (Side note: I am well aware that this could be a useful skill if it was applied to the 8-week swim class we signed up for but, let me assure you, that hour is spent screaming and crying and jumping out the pool to find the splash pad while the teacher sighs and all of other parents pretend this has never happened to them).
I repeat myself. Often. Some days I can go all in and be present and patient and encouraging while I do it and some days it boils my blood. Tonight when I caught the blood rushing through my ears like a speeding train over the steadily increasing sound of my voice echoing the word “pajamas” for the 1,239,721st time, I flipped. I got up, walked out, and shut the door.
She cried. She begged me to come back and told me she was scared but I was so hot I went and did that completely cliche thing that moms do when they’re mad: I tidied up her mess in a room far enough away that I could’t hear her. Because caring for my child via her belongings while ignoring her makes me slightly less terrible, right? Mom guilt, ya’ll.
Dad came to her rescue and tucked her into bed and I… I sat down at this very desk to complete some studying for a certification I’m working on for work. And as I sat, my gaze wandered up to this beautiful cutout of a cartoon mom with a cape and the words “SUPER MOM” scribbled across the top. It’s colored in bright yellows and oranges and blues. It made it’s way home from school during Mother’s Day and man if I didn’t feel convicted about my attitude today, ya know? I am supposed to be Super Mom and I was definitely not super in these last hours.
Shortly after my moment of self reflection, her tiny steps tiptoed into the room and her big eyes looked up at me to tell me about something that was on her mind. She was expecting a chiding but I wrapped my arms around her and I told her I was sorry and I love her and I didn’t like the way I acted tonight. And wouldn’t you know it, her gaze wandered over to that same cutout and she told me:
“I love that A colored that picture for me. That’s Super Girl and every time I look at that, I think of my friend A from school.”
…well I’ll be damned.