I had one of those mornings where I kept wondering who was being more awful, the kids or me? My husband and I have colds, thanks to our daughter who is finally recovering after 3 weeks of sickness and various medicines and breathing treatments. The kids have been out of preschool for years now, with an eternity of Christmas break days stretching ahead, and an unbearable 3 more days until Christmas. It's too cold to go outside, plus all I want to do is stay in bed. But, as you know, parents don't get sick days. I bent our 30 minutes a day TV rule to an hour, but that only intensified the whiny neediness (and I'm not just talking about me). I remembered in hindsight the reason for the 30 minute or less rule. So I decided to distract us with a project, making some playdoh. Of course I didn't have enough salt, and the kids fought over "helping" me, and then half of it ended up on the floor with no one being willing to help clean it up. So the screaming began (mine) and they were banished upstairs until I could get everything (me) sorted out.
And this was the scene I saw when I finally calmed down enough to check on them:
They were singing along to their VBS cd, using their books as "songbooks". Such joy, such sweetness, it almost broke my heart. To think that these angels could be the source of so much tension and stress for me that I could yell at them.
I was really not going to be a screamer. Or a spanker. I was such a good parent before these kids arrived. The work of parenting is unrelenting and often heartbreaking. You have such hopes, and beliefs that if you do and say the "right" thing, it will all be easy and work out like a 30 minute sitcom that ends on a happy note. But I remember clearly the first time my heart broke, realizing that they were fallible, just as I so clearly am. And I can never forget the hurt on their faces time and time again when I break their tender hearts (and Brady sobbing, "You hurt my feelings"). Those sweet cuddly babies turn into toddlers and preschoolers that tell you they don't love you, or they want another daddy, or call you "bad mommy" for any tiny manner of thing (mostly not giving them what they want). They refuse to listen, hurt their sibling, and endanger themselves.
And yet...and yet...what beauty they bring, and what hope and joy. Even when they seem to disregard everything I try to teach them at home, I know they are "getting it" when we go out and everyone remarks on what lovely, kind, sweet, well-mannered kids we have. They are so smart and creative and so giving, so kind to one another (when no one is looking). I wish they wouldn't save it all up for times when we're out of the house, but I'm glad to know that they feel loved and trusted enough to share all of who they are with us, the good, bad, and the ugly. Just as I hope and trust in their forgiveness when I show my bad sides.
I apologized to them for my behavior, and Maryn said, "'sokay, mommmy. I sorry for dumping playdoh on the floor. I won't do that anymore. Now sing with us. Here's your songbook." And on we go, continuing on the roller coaster ride of love and family, the best ride of all.