Hello. My name is Heather, most often referred to as mommy, and I am the Beast. More accurately, my two, almost three year old brings out the beast in me.
Sofia is…spirited…and it makes me crazy. Lately I’ve been wondering if I’m not the only one in the house with an ear infection causing decreased hearing because she doesn’t seem to hear a thing I say. Or at least she doesn’t listen. Somewhere in my mind I know that she is displaying classic toddler behavior but this understanding doesn’t seem to sooth the Beast.
In return for her behavior I am short, snappy, and impatient towards her. I act like this until I am slammed in the face with my own shame when she snuggles sweetly into my arms for a nap time story and song. And then I have to reevaluate. Thank God for the time naps give for mommy introspection.
Yes, her behavior is unacceptable but no, I cannot allow myself to become a short tempered beast. She learns nothing from this. Despite how infuriated, frustrated, and tired I feel, it is my job as her mommy to guide her towards beauty. She is a toddler and I am the adult she spends the most time around therefor she learns how to react to life situations from watching me. If I react with frustration and anger when she does not obey me, how is she to know how to react patiently when her brother frustrates her? The relationship is different but the reaction needs to be the same: loving patience.
I need this reminder on a day like today when she is testing me. She may need to be corrected and/or punished for her behavior but not out of anger but rather out of a desire to teach her and help mold her into a beautiful person. I have been worrying lately about what my spirited little girl might be like when she is a teenager, if she will be “trouble”. As I reflect on this, I see that the chances of that depend a lot on what I am teaching her now. And you know what they say: practice what you preach or you might as well shut up (okay, I added that last part).
So instead of going blue in the face when she behaves badly, my goal for the rest of the day (must take these things one day at a time), is to model loving patience, because if I want my little girl to be a beauty rather than a beast, I must show her how.
This past weekend I had the rare opportunity to pretty up and go out to a movie with a couple of other moms (no kids!). I came into this evening in a seriously grumpy mood. Over the past week my son had been teething with a vengeance and my daughter had been acting very…well…twoish. Added to this was the frequent absence of my hubby as he enjoyed some amateur radio classes. I was feeling exhausted and acting less than loving and patient towards my family.
Thankfully, this movie night was refreshing in more ways than one. While adult conversation was desperately needed (my husband said by Friday night I was flinching at the sound of my daughter’s voice), I think that the underlying message of the movie was equally necessary for me. If you didn’t figure it out from the title of this post, the movie I saw was “About Time” and as they say: I laughed, I cried, it moved me.
I won’t go into the premise of the movie (I swear, it is much better than its description), but rather focus on the end message which is approximately this: take the time to enjoy each moment as it happens. Enjoy the subtle nuances of life. Look for the beauty in small, simple, everyday moments.
Had I been living life like this over the past, rather challenging, week with my children? Ummm…no. Maybe it would not have felt like such a shit show (excuse my language!) if I had. Like all good lessons I’m sure this one will eventually fade into the abyss of my mind but in the present I am trying to take to heart this kind of attitude: to let my heart swim with joy at the beaming smiles my son sends me between teething fits; to relish the light in my daughter’s eyes as we share a joke (even if it is about “stinky toots”); to store in my mind the looks of commiseration my husband and I pass over our children’s behavior, so that I can think back and laugh; to memorize the feel of his arm pressed against mine when we finally fall into bed, two tired heaps.
These are the everyday little moments that make my life beautiful. If I choose to ignore their beauty I am basically choosing to give my emotions over to the shifting moods of my children. It is my reaction to their moods and behaviors which dictates the tone of our day. They are children, they have not developed full (if any) emotional regulation yet. It is my job to guide them through these fits and starts with patience and love. How will I find patience and love within myself when I am worn thin by their whining? A.) I will pray. B.) I will look for the simple, profound, moments of beauty which they bring to my life, even on the bad days. C.) I will let myself fill up with a thankfulness which spills out in the form of loving patience.
I can’t go back in time and change the times when I have been impatient and unloving towards my family, and lets be honest, that would get complicated. However, I can strive to love them better in the future by appreciating all the everyday beauty they bring into my life.