As with every morning, I started with coffee and bravely told myself today wouldn’t be a cluster as the mom of a toddler. I have a pretty set routine each day with my son: a little bit of cleaning and a whole lot of love and adventure together. The day itself seemed unlike any other until I went to bed and replayed it. But something was amiss.

In all honesty, every day I’m just trying to survive.

My son is entering toddlerhood with the force of a wrecking ball. He is strong-willed, vocal, and learning how to control his anger for simple things. He is by no account as easy as our friend’s children, but we’re getting through it and doing our best.

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Part of being a stay-at-home mom means the day just gets by you. You make 200 meals and snacks, change a dozen diapers, clean up messes by the truckload, and suddenly your spouse walks through the door while you’ve managed to maintain yesterday’s clothes and look. But somewhere between running to the grocery store, getting a car wash, getting gas, picking up photos, perusing the Hobby Lobby seasonal sale items, going for three neighborhood stroller walks to get some fresh air, and serving up chicken nuggets with 10 different sauces before you dared to take a biteI forgot to love you.

I shook my head lying in bed and told my husband I’d do better tomorrow. I started scrolling through old pictures on my phone and all of my son’s happy faces were like a knife to my chest. Look at this adorable little boy. I couldn’t fight back the tears.

At the moment, watching my son throw a fit about playing alone while I took a few minutes to myself seemed like a good idea. He needs to be more independent I tried convincing myself. Not true. I spent the entire day cleaning, organizing, running errands, and being immensely frustrated at tantrums that I forgot to nurture the little boy in him.

I boldly told him “no” as though it was the only word in my dictionary. I replayed over and over all the ways I messed up today, and all the moments I desperately wish I had acted softer to him.

I forgot to pause and hug you.

I forgot to laugh with you and do silly puppet shows. I forgot to hold you. I forgot to let all responsibilities clear my headspace and just be.

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You don’t know folding laundry and making meals is love. You can’t understand the items I bought today were for tomorrow’s crafts. You won’t grasp the concept that chores and taking you fun places is love. You thrive off physical attention. Your love language is 100% quality time.

I didn’t meet those needs today.

I lay in bed and tried to reason with myself how tomorrow will be better, I won’t feel so rushed to hurry the moments byno matter how much screaming comes my way.

The reality is I forgot to love you today. I could feel it in my heart, there was an emptiness inside. Because when I forgot to love you, I didn’t get the love I needed back, too. Your giggles supply me with the energy I’ll need to tend to your overnight wake-up calls. Your looking up at me and smiling overpowers the anxiety I feel for this difficult phase of toddlerhood.

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I’m spread so thin that on busier days, I forget what’s truly important. Most days I feel like I can do better, but today it’s unbearably obvious I should have. The world is scary and full of uncertainties for youyou depend on my love being unconditional. I promise you it is, I just forgot to show it.

I forgot to love you today, and if it’s all right with you, I’ll love you twice as much tomorrow.

Parenting is a wild ride, but the strategies in Mindful Parenting in a Chaotic World have made it a little smoother for us! Too busy to sit and read? You can listen here, on Audible.

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Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.