Everyone has good days and bad days. No matter what your age or profession or location, some days are just better than others.
As a relatively new stay-at-home mom, I’m finding myself acutely aware of the good days and the bad . Some days feel like they are the longest days of my life and other days go so quickly that it leaves me spinning.
As much as I love being at home with my little people, this work is not easy work, and even on the best days I sometimes find myself fantasizing about an office with a desk that isn’t sticky from little fingers or covered in elusive scraps of play doh or, heaven help me, a bathroom with a locking door.
Based on the stereotype about the dependency of moms on wine, I don’t think I’m alone.
A few months ago, I read something that prompted a different perspective on the good and bad days of motherhood. I don’t remember where I read it or what the exact point of the article was, but what I took away from it has stuck with me ever since.
When I reflect on how the day went, rather than simply considering my own perspective, I try to see the day through the eyes of my children. In their opinion, how did the day go?
I may have felt super productive, checking things off my list and cleaning up the house and making a healthy meal while she wished she had had somebody to play Monopoly with. Or perhaps I worried I had been lazy, sprawled on the floor of the living room with the baby for most of the afternoon while the mountains of laundry and dishes piled around us, but she loved having mom just “hang out” for a while. Maybe my attempts at Pinterest projects together made her day or maybe it exhausted her. Maybe the day where I felt bad for hardly seeing her at all was her favorite day of independent playing in the back yard.
I am starting to love the practice of reflecting back on their day, even if I’m usually just guessing in my attempts to empathize with what they would have loved or hated. We still have the usual conversation about how their day was. But lately I am very aware of how hard it is for little people to summarize and articulate the highs and lows of an entire day, even for my verbally inclined five year old. Kids don’t always use words to communicate with us. Taking the time to try to put myself in their shoes helps me pick up on more of what they are telling me without saying it.
I’ve even started the practice with my six month old. Was she tired? Did we get some snuggle time or were we rushing from one activity to the next? Did a new food or a tooth or an overstimulating experience have an impact on her day?
For me, the point of this reflective practice isn’t necessarily about drastic changes. My parenting style doesn’t involve trying to cater every day so that it’s their “best day ever”. Bad days happen and getting through them together is how we build resiliency.
But I have noticed that the practice makes me more present with my children. Rather than being wrapped up in my own head, I’m paying more attention to the little moments, to the things that could make an impact, for better or worse. It makes me think twice before I lose my temper, slow down to look her in the eye when she talks to me, snuggle the baby a few minutes longer, and put down the chores long enough to make time for at least one game of monopoly. Because sometimes one little moment can be the difference between a good and a bad day.
And usually, it really is that simple. If i’m having one of those mommyhood days that feel harder than they should, rather than let the crumminess of the day seep through the entire house, I take a moment to check in and see what I can do to make a positive difference in their day. It’s usually as easy as sitting down for a snack together or snuggling in the chair or playing legos for a few minutes.
And somehow, as if by magic, whatever it was that seemed so bad about my day doesn’t seem so bad anymore.