As Bernhard pushes forward into toddlerhood we’re both finding that our patience is being tried not just on a day by day basis, but sometimes it feels like a minute by minute basis. Additionally, due in part to stresses I can’t control (read work-related) and in part to remnants of the postpartum gumbo, oh, and then I haven’t been sleeping consistently for various reasons, I’ve had little patience with everyone, Bernhard, JP, family, friends, coworkers, other drivers…. Myself… unfortunately combination of stress and gumbo it makes a side of me come out that isn’t good or healthy for anyone to be around, including myself. I handle some days better than others.
Last night was one of the bad nights. I had a rough day with technology working, which put me behind work-wise, then neither the pork chops nor the chicken was thawed, so I was stressed and scrambling to make SOMETHING for dinner. Bernhard was being his toddler self, dinner was delayed, and I exploded in exasperation to his whining. I felt horrible the moment I exploded. I’m not proud of how I reacted, and I feel even worse about how he reacted to my explosion. He stopped dead in shock and one big tear rolled down his cheek.
Deep white hot cutting mom guilt.
I immediately dropped what I was doing (read cooking dinner) and dropped to his level, looked into his guarded toddler eyes full of hurt and asked if he needed a hug. He said yes, so I wrapped my arms around his little body and held him close for a solid two minutes. Dinner burned a tad, but he was and is more important. In that moment I felt like a complete failure as a mom. I am the world to my toddler and in that moment I failed him. I’m supposed to be one of the people in his world that is a fount of warmth and love and in that single explosive moment that lasted two seconds I failed to be that for him. In that moment I was a bad mother, and his reaction to me was so raw and hurt, that it still feels like a raw wound thinking about it today.
Thinking back to last night I feel even worse. I’ve been told in the past that people admired the level of patience I had, and people joked that I was TOO patient to be normal. Knowing that makes me feel like this motherhood sin is even worse.
Bernhard is STILL very little — he’s only going to be 19 months on Sunday — so if anyone deserves to have my unconditional patience he does. It wasn’t his fault that I had a rough day trying to get work done yesterday, or that dinner was late. His only sin, which really isn’t a sin at all, is that he missed his mama and he was hungry. In the end any sin falls to me because I failed him. And I failed him hard on so many fronts. That little boy exudes pure love for his parents and I betrayed that by exploding.
Tonight was much better, and from what I can tell he doesn’t remember/has completely forgiven me for what happened. He was his happy toddler self.
I suppose that’s one of the gifts of childhood. They forgive easily, but the reason his reaction still plays over and over in my mind 28 hours later is because I have to be better the next time, and the next, and the next forever going forward as long as I breathe on this earth. And there’s no guarantee I’ll be the better mom every single time something happens, and just knowing that I’ll probably keep screwing up makes me so frustrated with myself. The irony here is that in addition with practicing patience with Bernhard as he grows into himself, and have patience with JP as he grows into the fatherhood role, that I desperately need to be patient with myself too as I grow into this motherhood thing.
I just need to step out of my head.
Take a moment. Even for a millisecond.
Say a quick Hail Mary.
Have patience. And have it with everyone. Myself included. He’s still growing. I’m still growing.