It had been an incredibly long day. Late to bed the night before due to work, and then the little one woke me at 2:00AM with an upset tummy. Two hours later I was back in bed and I knew I would just need to get through this day.
After school, hoping for an easy play afternoon, the girls were incredibly feisty. They were acting aggressive, fighting, tired, and not listening. I told them both if they used their hands on each other again, they would be in their rooms the rest of the night, including dinner. No television, and no bedtime books. This threat seemed to curb the biting and hitting until just before dinner, when our oldest hit and kicked her little sister over bubbles.
“Please go to your room,” I calmly told her. “You were asked not to use your hands, and you didn’t listen. I’ll bring you dinner there.”
“NO!”, she shouted. With a fractured hand and her dad working out of town, I knew I couldn’t carry her back to her room, so I gambled. “If you don’t go to your room now, I will take out your dollhouse and all of your Barbie’s including your new Ever After High Dolls. Did you want to test me? 1……2….”
She ran back in tears, shouting at me all the way down the hall and then decided she wouldn’t go into her room after all. I followed her when she yelled again,
“Do you know what your compliment of the day is? You’re a TERRIBLE mother!”
She was referring to our New Year’s Resolution this year, we do a compliment circle each night at dinner, and apparently I wasn’t getting one this night. I glared at her and was seething inside. My hand and wrist ached, I was dead on my feet, and had little fight left in me. I wanted to scream back, “Why did you hit her? Why can’t you just let her use the damn bubbles? Is it really that hard to be nice?”
But then as I opened my mouth to yell back, a voice came to me and said:
“Teach with love. Be the person you want her to be.”
Maybe it was my inner voice, but in that moment I felt the presence of God. The light, the love, whatever you believe in, it was there, guiding me. So this terrible mother instead took that advice, relaxed and responded,
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but even when you’re mad at me, I’ll still love you. No matter what.”
Her stern face and furrowed brow dissolved and instantly the tears fell. She cried how sorry she was, ran and fell into my arms, needing reassurance that she was loved. I explained again why she needed some time to herself, and hoped that tomorrow when she wanted to hit her sister, she’d remember what it felt like to eat dinner alone. And reminded her how lucky she is to have a family to share meals with.
This parenting thing can be hard, we all have our not so perfect moments. The ones where we lash out, yell back, and roll our eyes out of frustration. But today I was reminded of what’s really important with our children. We are setting the example everyday, teaching them how to react, respect, and love one another. And like our little ones, we have choices.
We can choose to let the anger and resentment boil over, or we can choose to listen to our inner voice and guide and teach our kids with love. It takes great strength and is incredibly difficult to control our own tempers when the pressures of life overflow, but today I learned something pretty powerful. For the first time in seven years as a mother I was in the eye of the storm, and in that quiet and calm place with anger swirling all around me, finally I learned to just be.
I remained calm, confident, and filled my little one with love.
This article originally appeared on Mommy In Sports