You scream at me—it hurts my feelings. You get so frustrated when I can’t do something you want to right away. You yell at me “Go away, I want Daddy,” and when I do not go away because you need to nap and I am determined to not let my exhaustion of fighting with you win—I stay. I stay and get yelled at, I stay and get punches swung at me. It still hurts. It makes me want to yell or run away and hide. It makes me want to give up.
I am not made of Teflon. The words and the punches don’t bounce off of me like a superhero. As I lay there in your bed with you, while you throw a desperately-in-need-of-a-nap fit you grab my hand and put it on your back, asking me to scratch your back and through the tears you ask me to sing to you.
Listening to you scream at me, knowing you are unhappy with my decisions and my answers to your questions, I try to remind myself this is what toddler emotions look like. That your feelings don’t dictate who I am or how good of a mom I really am because I am not a knight in your toy army wearing a suit of armor. My feelings get hurt. I want you to be happy. I want to make you happy.
Through the years of motherhood the lies have crept in. They have told me:
“It is your job to make them happy.”
“Always say ‘yes’ to playing.”
“They matter more than your laundry.”
“Your time is all for them.”
The lies twist truth. They convince me of things that through my exhaustion I think sound right. I think sound good and loving and kind and define what makes me a good mom. But, as they throw a fit because: I won’t push them on the swing 100 times when it is 6pm and I still need to make dinner or we are running late and they forgot their stuffed animal inside the house and I won’t go get it; I begin to believe I am the problem. That my expectations are too high. That they should have that animal because it is comforting or they should get a mommy who gives them attention all day long. Someday they won’t want my attention. Someday they won’t need me to push them on the swing or sing them another bedtime song or snuggle on the couch.
Someday, “they won’t…” is true. But, saying “yes” constantly is not going to convince them I love them. When I don’t give them all the things they think they need and want they will not hear “I don’t love you.” That is what I am afraid of. I am scared they will not know they are loved and valued. That they will not feel heard or known.
But, when I fake my Teflon-supermommy armor I am not known and I am not allowing anyone to love me. I am pretending to be a mom that I am not. I am allowing my children unrealistic expectations. I can’t pretend any longer. I cannot paint on a smile and be yelled at, pulled on, pushed, demanded of and act like it has no effect. It does.
I don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know how to teach them well, I feel very confused about when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to them. But, I know I am not alone. I know there are other fake, super mommies out there trying to keep their head above water.
So as I attempt to recover from the morning I am trying to remind myself (and you) that we are not alone. We are made in the image of a God who is creative, wonderful and strong. We are those things too. The only one who expects perfection out of us is ourselves and we need to take off our suit of armor. Love is a choice that Jesus made when He rescued us and it is a choice we make on days like today when it isn’t all cuddles. That is the powerful kind of love we want to show our kids! We do not have to show them perfection, we do not have to show them super mommy. We have to show them how their words hurt, how we love anyways and how at the end of the day God’s grace gives us strength to try again!
Try again mamas, because you are not alone.