Super Mom

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.

A 3 Year Old’s Goodbye

I’m currently sitting in the airport which is a place I haven’t been in quite some time. I’m traveling for work, making my way to a 6 day training which will end with some new certifications and knowledge about how to better support my team.

6 days. With an additional day devoted to travel. It’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from my daughter and I’ve been having a hard time with it. 6 days without bedtime stories and her little feet climbing up the side of my bed in the morning. 6 days without our car ride conversations about sunrises and sunsets, about which friends we like and which friends we don’t like this week. 6 days where I choose the seemingly selfish path of self-improvement over my family.

It is hard to get a three and a half year old through daily routines with a partner, let alone without. I’ve signed my husband up for a 6 day solo-struggle knowing exactly what I ask of him. I’m fortunate. He is the most gracious supporter, willingly signing up for the task and focusing our time together leading up to the flight pouring into me with words of confidence, truth, love, and encouragement. But what does a trip like this look like to a child?

A pre-preschooler doesn’t understand self-improvement or work trips. Time doesn’t quite make sense (“Is it tomorrow today?”). Mom is supposed to be home. I think about our FaceTime calls throughout the coming week and I get that tight pit in my stomach anticipating the inevitable questions from her.

We started talking about this trip about a week ago, trying to prepare her. When we first introduced the idea, she lifted her big doe eyes and squeaked, “But who will stay with me?”

I wasn’t prepared for what my little carbon copy told me this morning as I was packing up my bags. She looked at me with the sweetest demeanor standing next to her father and said,

“You’re not pretty today.”

Hahaha, aren’t kids are the worst?  They have this incredible knack for knocking you down. Are you feeling like a needed member of the family and that things may fall apart without you? Fat chance. Your kid is already planning her daddy daughter movie nights and is primarily concerned with how many pieces of gum she can consume before the day is over. Little shit.

But dang, do I love her. I already miss her. All of her sweetness and all of her sour.