Maybe it was the time change. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe I hadn’t had enough to eat. Whatever it was, I was having a bad day. Everything my kids did annoyed me to no end. My patience was practically nonexistent. I was trying to make some muffins to go with dinner, while simultaneously trying to prevent my son from climbing onto the counter again, when I felt a whack on my behind. Something in me snapped and I turned around and yelled at my daughter, “Go to time out!” She immediately started crying as she ran to time out and I kept angrily measuring ingredients into my mixing bowl.
Between her cries to get out of time out and trying to keep my son away from his sister, I got the muffins in the oven. Something that should have taken me five minutes to whip up had taken three times that long and I was in serious need of a time out myself. But I pulled myself together, took a few deep breaths and called for my daughter to come out of time out and talk with me. Head down, she walked over to where I was standing in the kitchen.
Me: “Makadie, why did you hit me in the bum?”
Kadie: “I don’t know.”
Me: “No, I need you to think for a minute. Why did you hit me in the bum?”
Kadie: “It was an accident.”
Me: (sigh) “No, you came up to me and hit me, which means it was on purpose.”
Kadie: “Yeah, I did. But daddy tells me sometimes to do it.”
Me: “Yes, but that’s just when he’s trying to be funny.”
Kadie: “I did it because I was trying to make you happy.”
For a split second, time stopped as what my daughter said sunk in. What she said was the last thing I had expected to hear. She was trying to be playful and do something to make me happy because clearly, she could tell that I wasn’t. And what did I do? Turn around and yell at her to go to time out. I felt awful.
Any remaining frustration I had drained out of me as I knelt down to give my daughter a hug. And she gave me one back. And she didn’t pull away or ask to get down when I picked her up and carried her around with me for a few minutes, putting ingredients away. She’d forgiven me. Just like that.
Later that night, while at a leadership meeting, I got an audio text from my daughter right around her bedtime. I couldn’t listen to it at the time, but I did when I got home: “Mommy, I love you. And when you leave, it makes me sad, because I want you to come back, because I love you. And when you get home tonight after I’m asleep, you can come in and give me a kiss. I love you.”
Before I lay down at night, I often reflect on the day, thinking of the things that went well, the things that didn’t, the funny moments, the sweet moments, the laughs, the tears and everything in between.
I love that tomorrow is a new day where I can try again to be a better mother to my children. More patient, more kind. Less quick to anger. As my kids grow up, I want them to remember that there were more good days than bad. More happiness and less sadness.
Having kids has been one of the hardest things that has ever happened to me and my husband. They try your patience and push buttons you didn’t know existed. They whine, nag, complain, fight and argue.
Having kids is also one of the very best things that has ever happened to us. Our kids are kind, patient, forgiving, thoughtful and happy. They teach us that it’s ok to make mistakes and they love us, and forgive us so quickly, when we make them too.
I wonder sometimes if I would be the person I am today without my kids. Granted, some days that person is not very fun to be around. But then there are the days when my kids do something sweet for someone or put into practice a life lesson we’ve been working on and I’m on cloud nine. The good days and the bad days are both making me into a better person, mom, wife, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. And when I really think about it, I feel like I couldn’t do it without my kids.
Sometimes it just takes a little whack on the bum to remember that.