Over the weekend, I broke. The loudness, impulsiveness, defiance… being ignored, talked back to, forced to clean up after, disrespected… it was too much. I felt like I was swirling down a drain. I could barely talk to or look at my child. The life-force had been sucked out of me, and there was nowhere to go to recharge or recover. So, I went to bed at 6pm, and then went back to bed with my daughter later.
I tried to do better the next day. I didn’t do a lot better, but I did do better. And I’ve suffered the mom guilt thing ever since. Why, when I love my child more than life itself, when I study and memorize respectful parenting texts, when I intellectually know how to do better, do I not do it all the time??? What is wrong with me???
Ironically, this is the question my daughter asks herself every single day, all day long. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop myself every time? Why didn’t I think things through? Why is it so hard for me to listen? Why do people get so angry at me? Why can’t I be “good”?
So, as a mom, I’m here today, doing my best. Apologizing and owning my own shortcomings with my daughter. All morning I made a herculean effort to be less short-tempered, to not yell, to not storm off. She could only find one shoe. She wanted chocolate candy for breakfast. She crawled over the middle of the seats in the rental car. She wanted a jacket. Then didn’t want it when she had one sleeve on. She wouldn’t go into her classroom because she hated the shoes she was wearing because we couldn’t find the other shoe she wanted. On, and on. And I kept saying, “I’m trying so hard not to lose my temper. I love you and I want you to know how much I love you. I’m frustrated by this but I’m trying not to yell. I want to have a good morning together.” Over and over. And somehow, the morning was a little better for it. Not because she did what I wanted in the end (she wore the shoes she didn’t like, but complained the whole time, she didn’t wear the jacket, she crawled over the seat), but because I didn’t throw gasoline on her fire. So the fire was smaller and easier to recover from.
My daughter is my spiritual practice. She pushes me to practice what I preach. She insists that I never stop growing. Her existence forces me to mindfulness. I’m grateful to her in every way.