Last night I tucked the boy into bed, none too motherly, after a very long day.
My favourite part of the day, he said, was when I was in my room by myself, because then you weren't yelling at me.
Oh, my heart.
It was that sort of a day. I had grumbled about messes and yelled about noise and commanded unkindly - hurry, faster - and followed up with more grumbling and more yelling.
And then I topped it off with a particularly shining moment when, in an effort to reconnect, my beautiful boy brought me a beautiful collage he'd made for me, and my response was to express dismay that in doing so, he had unknowingly cut up a parcel delivery receipt I needed. His voice cracked as he apologized and left the room; I found him a moment later, sobbing heartbroken cries in his bedroom.
I fell asleep later that night with tears of my own dried on my face.
I'm so tired and everyone needs me and I just want to be taken care of instead. Meals cooked, house cleaned, someone tucking me into bed and sitting beside me until I've drifted off to much-needed sleep. And most days I get by. I nap when I can and I gratefully eat food cooked by a kind husband. I try to keep a quiet schedule. I let some things go. Even so, some days get the better of me and I bumble my way through them, so very human in my weakness.
But those days don't define me. They don't define my children's childhood, either.
Most nights as I tuck them into bed, our bedtime conversations are filled with good memories from the day and hopeful plans for tomorrow. And when those bad days come, I am not left helpless.
I apologize. After the boy shared with me his favourite part of the day - when I was in my room by myself - I finished getting them into bed and left. I wallowed in my self-pity for a few minutes. I'm a terrible mother, I'm messing it all up, woe is me. And then I went back. I apologized for my poor behaviour that day. I acknowledged my wrongdoings. I sought forgiveness. My children need my humble and sincere apologies as much as they need my unconditional love. They need to know that they are worthy, that they don't deserve to be treated poorly, and that my mistakes are not excused simply because I'm an adult.
I reconnect. As always, he held no grudges. Few things are as complete as a child's forgiveness. We snuggled there in dark and reconnected after a day of disconnection. I listened to him as he talked about designing cars one day, and maybe Lego kits too, and why did you decide not to have a job when you grew up, Mommy? How quickly perspective is restored when I am reminded that this right here is my dream, my choice. Since when are dreams to be expected to come easily, without sweat and sacrifice and perseverance?
I seek balance. Sacrifice is required, yes, but so is self-care. Put on your own oxygen mask first. After a good cry, I went to bed early last night. I fed myself well this morning. I took a few minutes to be alone and mentally prepare myself for the day. Today I will minimize my distractions in order to prevent frustrations, and tonight I will rest. I cannot meet the needs of these little ones if I have failed to take care of my own needs as well.
Today there is peace. Yesterday's failures do not define our lives unless we allow them to consume us. Instead, I choose grace, letting those days fall away like dead skin so that I can move forward with today, new and clean and lighter.
May your day be filled with peace as well.