You know those days when you haven’t even gotten dressed, and yet you hear the toddler screaming in their room. . . Two hours earlier than they were supposed to wake up? That was my week last week. I felt as if I had woken up to crying, spent the day trying to stop the crying, and then gone to bed to crying. Any moms out there feeling me?
It’s like I was standing on a knife blade all day, just trying to keep the toddler from screaming again. Freaking out on my husband if he did something to make the baby cry. Trying to avoid changing her diaper because for some reason that sent her into hysterics. By the end of the week I was done. I let the hubby take the baby and went into the back room and just bawled. I felt like a terrible mom because I couldn’t keep my child from crying! I’d given it everything I had and utterly failed.
Tears Are O.K.
Of course, when I went to church the topic of the day was “Righteous Parenting”. I was so angry with God for kicking me while I was down that I didn’t even hear half of what was said. How dare He lecture me on parenting when He’d given me such an inconsolable child! When we got home, I let my husband take Lydia inside while I half cried, half yelled, at God.
How could I possibly do anything more than I already was? I was wearing myself to the bone trying to keep Lydia happy and it was getting me nowhere.
A couple days later I was looking through some old photo albums and it hit me – I don’t remember the tears. I don’t remember the times I didn’t get my way or had to go sit in time out. I don’t remember the scraped knees or temper tantrums (though I’m sure they happened!). What I do remember is all the fun we had. The trips to the pool and the science experiments we did. The snail races and the eggs we hatched. It was the fun we had that I remembered.
It was like a lightbulb had gone off.
I had been running myself ragged trying to make sure Lydia never cried, but I had been focusing on the negative – focusing on what I didn’t want. What I should have been focusing on was what I did want.
A New Tactic
This week, instead of trying to make sure nothing happened to make Lydia cry, I’ve just been trying to have fun
with her. We’ve gone on walks and played in the mud. We’ve worked in the garden together and gone out to visit the goats. And instead of trying to make sure she never tripped or stumbled, I just let her go. And you know what? She has been so much happier this week! It’s like a totally new toddler is living under my roof.
Not only that, but I’ve been able to let the tears that do come, roll off my back a little bit easier. I’ve felt less stressed and overwhelmed. I’ve actually enjoyed hanging out with my daughter during the day! Isn’t that crazy.
So to all those other moms out there like me – it’s ok. You’ve got this.
It’s ok for them to cry. It’s ok for them to be upset with you for taking away the ice cream. Our job isn’t to make sure they’re never upset – our job is to make sure they have as much fun as possible in between.
Our job is to teach them love, patience, fairness, gratitude, and joy. If we don’t feel those things ourselves, we don’t have a hope of teaching them to our children. We need to take time for us. We need to laugh and have fun again. To let the house be a wreck every now and then. After all – this is the only life we have, so we’d better live it up!