“Whining, fighting, screaming, ungrateful. I’m having a hard day.” When I texted that to my husband, I was referring to my 6.5yr-old daughter. There had been numerous crying fits and fights with her brothers. Absolutely nothing was going her way. NOTHING! I text my husband looking for justification, some sort of agreement, that yes, lately she has been a little out of sorts. But as I stared at my phone waiting for his reply, I wondered if he would realize I was referring to her and not myself. Whining, fighting, screaming, ungrateful could very well describe my attitude on life lately. Nothing was going my way either. Absolutely nothing.
I had things that must be done, and of course they all interrupted the things she felt she must do. It was a grocery shop or starve day, certified letters had to be mailed, and the house needed to be cleaned or burned down. She informed me very clearly of her “to-do” list. She needed to write a book, play outside with her friend, and eat a popsicle. The most important item on her list, was play outside with her friend, while the most important thing on my list was to grocery shop and go to the post office. Because our lists did not align, the entire time we were checking off items on my to-do list, she was frustrated that we weren’t getting to her to-do list. It’s days like this when I am not sure if it’s her, or me, or maybe a little bit of both being unreasonable.
By the time we were halfway through the grocery store, my insides were twisted in a knot of frustration and anger that is so hard to release. Prayers for peace, for patience, many “Jesus be near” mumbles, and deep breaths, but I was still tense and angry. Physically and emotionally. The constant questions were an intrusion to the quiet I begged for. Every “Look at this, Mom!” was an interruption to the chore that required my time and attention. I was snapping. I was frustrated.
My final straw was near the play-dough display. I thought, “Let’s turn this chore around, and I’ll get some new playdough for the kids.”
“Hey guys, come choose one tub of play-dough.” My son was ecstatic! The baby said “Yay!” My daughter said, “Can we pick two?”
I repeated myself, in an attempt to stay calm. “Just pick one.”
Daughter, “Ugh, why can’t we two?”
That was it. I’d had more than enough. I snatched the play-dough out of everyone’s hands, and told her we couldn’t get any.
“You ruined this for everyone.” Those were my exact words. I know they were piercing. They look piercing even now on the screen.
What I didn’t see at the time, was my behavior before that last straw moment with her. I didn’t see myself in her actions, and I should have. It was so very clear that she was acting exactly like me.
I ditched mom guilt long ago, but this realization that my attitude was being mirrored in my daughter was crushing. Her behavior is a reflection of mine. Her attitude parallels my own. Her choices mimic my heart.
So, what else is there to do but ask forgiveness from my Heavenly Father and my daughter? It’s amazing how a little humility and gratefulness for mercy can change the heart and my parenting.