You know those days that just seem doomed from the get-go? You wake up still exhausted with a crick in your neck and a bad dream resounding in your psyche. You step out of bed directly onto a Lego, the toast burns, you forget to turn the coffee pot on and your children seem to all have taken on the personas of UFC fighters since yesterday.
Yup. Today was one of those days.
My crummy morning progressed into a nightmare of a day. Dead car battery, with three kids in a rain storm. Kid home early from preschool with an earache and an “accident” that needed a bath. This is where it gets really nutty. Trying to calm the screaming three-year-old with poop down his leg, simultaneously keeping him from moving an inch or touching anything, the bathtub faucet broke off in my hand. The faucet I have been meaning to have fixed for months. A jet of unstoppable hot water started filling the bathroom with steam and I completely lost my mind.
My meter hit red and I just couldn’t deal anymore. I couldn’t deal with all of them being in my face. I couldn’t deal with the tsunami in my bathroom and I couldn’t deal with the fact that I HAD to deal with it. All of it. Day after day. I yelled. And not just a normal yell. This was a banshee, pterodactyl, Mommy-is-transforming-into-an-ambulance-siren type of wail. And my three little birdies that had been chirping demands and complaints just seconds earlier responded with a stunned silence. Which was a notable first for them.
The shame flooded in immediately. I quickly shooed the boys out and locked myself into the bathroom, letting the water levels of the bathtub rise while my heart sank. The screams that had turned to sobs were then being calmed by deep breaths. In through my nose, out through my mouth, just like I always coached my little ones. Then I emerged from my “timeout” calm, but kinda heartbroken.
Sometimes I’m “Mama” and then sometimes, I’m just Amie. An ordinary person with flaws and a limit. I have bad days, days that I can’t keep it together no matter how hard I try. Days where I can’t handle life with grace, days that I’m rude or cranky or whiny. Just like my little ones, I suppose. I found my babies sitting together with a giant tub of Lego (that apparently needed to be completely dumped out). Happily playing together as if Momzilla hadn’t just destroyed the bathroom. The poopy one had even attempted a cleanup and dressed himself in pants that I had always kinda hated anyways.
I sat down. Started piecing together a weird little truck while I opened up to them about my awful day. I shared with them that I’m always their Mom, but sometimes I’m just a person that has big feelings like they do. I apologized and told them that the way that I had handled my bad day was not OK, that they didn’t deserve to be yelled at. The expression of my “big feelings” wasn’t fair.
Their reaction inspired me. Little hands rubbing my back. Quick to forgive, big hugs and listening ears full of understanding and empathy. Just true, pure love. My little mirrors that teach me every day. Humbling me both in my shame and self reflection and in their acceptance. They also gave me a little more empathy for them, reminding me that everyone has bad days and everyone deserves to be given the same grace that they gave me. Big or little. Our heart to heart with tears was followed up by big, necessary bowls of before-supper “bad day made better” ice cream. That chocolate swirl inspired a few little happy dances, surprised giggles and a desperately needed bright moment in a crappy day. Moral of the story? You’re never too big to say sorry and ice cream is ALWAYS a good idea.
Mommy’s Inside Voice is a biweekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three.