It was last night when I had a moment of enlightening, while sitting on our couch after both boys had finally gone down to sleep. It’s been a roller coaster these last two months and we have had some trying days with Casey adjusting to a baby in the house. There have been some times. Enough said.
I never feel good after I’ve yelled at my kids. I don’t like losing my temper and there are many times during the day when I get mad at something I later realize didn’t warrant the emotional energy spent arguing and fighting about.
The thing is, I am a selfish person. I mean not really. I’m empathetic and love connecting and learning about other people. But here’s the thing: I’m an only child and, for better or worse, I am used to having things in my family revolve around me. I am used to having most areas of my life revolve around my schedule and my needs.
But parenting doesn’t work that way. I don’t get to set the schedule for my children. Besides making sure they are well fed, educated, and taken care of, I have no control over what toys my 2.5 year old wants to play with or whether or not he actually wants to go to Target and wander the isles when I say so. I have no control over when my 7 week old is hungry or tired or overwhelmed or wants to be totally cute and lay on his back and kick and coo and smile for us. I cannot exert my will or my schedule upon these boys anymore then I can tell the sun to set at a later hour. It is not about me anymore.
My job now is to raise these two boys. It is my job to make sure they are well-adjusted, healthy, encouraged, understood, loved, supported and generally happy. It is easy to lose sight of this in the moment, after I have said the same thing 5 times in a row, when I am facing ultimate temper-tantrums, when the only answer I get all day is “no” and “I did it anyway”. It is hard to just want five minutes to myself, to be able to finish whatever it is I am working on or have things go “according to plan”. It is easy to lean into the resentment and anger that can bubble up.
But this does not serve me. This season of my life calls for deep breathing and slowing down; for listening, uplifting, teaching, gentleness and understanding. It is a season of warmth and growth and bonding and even though the hours stretch long and sleep is wanting, it always feels better to take the time and give that extra minute. It pays to get down on their level and slow down, to try to see through their eyes and understand what the world is like for them, instead of trying to impose my schedule onto them.
All of this came to me last night and it was like a light turned on. It was forgiveness and a letting go of all the guilt I carry about reacting badly when I am stressed out or tired, letting go of all the questions of whether or not I am a good mom. It was like warmth and reassurance; the innate knowledge that I am a great mother to my boys and that I have so much to cherish and to look forward to. It was happiness.
It was motherhood and it was happiness.