Last week I was having a frustrated day. I don’t think I’ve shared this but our family is expecting our second baby! We are so excited and can’t wait for its arrival this summer. Along with this great blessing comes lots of other not-so-great things..gas, sleepless nights and mood swings. Oh, the mood swings! The first part of my pregnancy I thought I was doing really good as far as my hormones. I wasn’t crying over every little thing, and I wasn’t getting too upset, and then it came into full swing. I already tend to be a little “Dr. Jekyl and Mrs. Hyde,” as my husband describes me. I get frustrated easily, am impatient, and boy, can I be stubborn! Since then, I have grown out of some things, and some I still struggle with, but being pregnant, it all has been harder to control.
My daughter, being 2 (almost 3), tends to get frustrated, too, which makes for some exciting times at our house. It’s hard being a two-year-old. She isn’t sure how to express her feelings or use her words but we try and practice this a lot. In our home when she gets frustrated we have adopted the “take a rest method,” (similar to “time out”) She has a small chair where she goes and sits until she cools down. Sometimes we use calming music and she watches her fish for a minute. We don’t have a timer, so she takes as long as she needs until she is ready to continue to play! Surprisingly, for my daughter (who we have lovingly nicknamed the energizer bunny because she doesn’t slow down!), it works! When she gets frustrated with a toy, she will come to me and say “Mommy I am frustrated, I need to take a rest!” and she sits until her frustration passes. I am glad she has taken to this since I have a hard time dealing with my emotions!
No Mom is Perfect
On this particular day I was just upset over every little thing. I hate these days, because sadly, I end up taking it out her. I get too naggy and some days I have to give myself a kick in the pants to remind myself she’s only a toddler. I honestly cannot remember what I was upset about or even how I reacted. It was probably something super silly like she wasn’t helping clean up her toys. All I know is the dragon was unleashed! Knowing me I am sure I raised my voice at her, maybe stuck her in time out, I really don’t know. (Pregnancy brain.) But what I do remember is what happened after. After I released my anger, I looked over and saw this little innocent girl, so grown up, yet so small, just watching me. Her face was so innocent, and so gentle, with a look of defeat. My heart could barely stand it. It was literally aching over what had just happened. I thought about the example I was setting and how the way I was acting went against what I was teaching her. I was not practicing what I was preaching!
A Child Teaches Forgiveness
I went over to her and sat her down and told her I needed to chat with her. I apologized for being mean and for being frustrated. What she did next still brings tears to my eyes. She grabbed my neck, and gave me a hug and said “I love my mommy!” I started crying. She is so small, yet understood how sorry I was, and with one hug and an, “I love you” all was forgiven. I felt in that one phrase, she was saying “Thank you for apologizing, I forgive you.” I also felt that was such a turning point for her and for me. I was able to be very honest with her that even though I am the mommy, I make mistakes, and I get frustrated, and sometimes I need to say sorry. After we hugged, she looked at me with her big brown eyes (I call them her puss in boot kitty eyes) and says “Mommy, you need a rest.” “Yeah baby I do.”
It’s funny how, with children, life is so simple. All she needed was for me to apologize and she was fine and moved on! It seems somewhere along the line of growing up we don’t forgive so easily. We tend to hold on to grudges. When I was “mean mommy,” she didn’t cry or seem to get her feelings hurt; she just stood back and let me be mad. In fact, if I hadn’t apologized, she probably would have been just fine, but we wouldn’t have had that moment and that bond I felt was strengthened in that moment.
We all get frustrated, and we all get mad at our kids, at our husbands, and at others. We are human! But before we react, maybe we can all adopt the “take a rest method’ and take a minute to take a deep breath before we yell, or say or do something we will regret. Our children are watching. We can teach and teach, but what we do is what really sets precedent for the type of person they will grow up to become.
I realized, because it’s inevitable, that when I do lose my cool, the best thing I can do is to apologize and try again. I guess since my parents put up with me, and my husband puts up with me, I expect my daughter to do the same, but no one should have to. I think I tend to take for granted the fact that they are my family and will love me no matter what, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an apology. If anything it means they deserve it more! Even my 2-year-old…especially my 2-year-old. I feel that as the nurturer and the teacher at home, I have to be “on” all the time with my daughter and in some ways we do. We certainly can’t just sit back and not tend to their everyday needs. No matter how sick we are, we must go on but that doesn’t mean we can’t have bad days. Stop putting pressure on yourselves, moms! Our kids must know we are not perfect! They need to learn we all have bad days and that includes us moms! They also need to know that when we fail, we can apologize, because we love them that much.
I am so grateful for that teaching opportunity my daughter and I had. I think it was more for me than for her. It certainly humbled me and reminded me of the simplicity of life. Kids tend to do that to you. I also couldn’t help but think how this small exchange between us was a good starting point in teaching my daughter such a basic principle of the gospel, and that is forgiveness. It’s why we are all still here–because Christ forgives us every day for our mistakes. She is such a good little example of this and doesn’t even know it yet! Every day I pray to be a better mother, to be better than I was yesterday, and in that moment we had our little heart to heart, I felt the spirit. I can’t believe how much she is changing me, all for the better. I am still me, but slowly, after 30 years, becoming a better version. There is so much to teach our children, but if we stop for a minute, take a deep breath, or “take a rest” we can learn so much from them.
Krystal is a latter-day mom and Holy Homemaker to 3 beautiful kiddos who is striving to find joy in the everyday trenches of motherhood and life! Her passion is sharing her experience of decluttering with a purpose to help others create a Holy Home where the messes subside and the Spirit resides. She is a lover of books, nature, music, food, the gospel, and all things Texas! Follow her at her website, Latter-day Mom!