I woke up and before I even opened my eyes I felt furious. I sighed as I realised “the rage” was still with me. For two days now I had been feeling out of control and snapping at my family. I took several deep breaths before opening my eyes to see my toddler sleeping peacefully beside me, looking like an angel. Determined not to let this dark mood take hold of me for the second day running I took a few more deep breaths in the hope of shaking it.
As the day went on, everything annoyed me. I felt angry about tiny things and found myself directing my son, saying “No” over and over again, and feeling more terrible each time I said it.
Eventually I decided to sit down with him to paint. I was hoping that doing something creative would make me feel good, so I set up some pots of paint and gave my son his own sheet of paper. As I began to paint I started to feel better, but seeing me relax and noticing my artwork, piqued my sons interest too. He kept straying from his own paper, trying to join in with mine. I tried to discourage him and lead him back to his own paper, but he kept trying to paint on mine. I tried explaining that I needed to do something creative for myself, before becoming more and more frustrated and angry, until eventually I was pushing his brush away and shouting for him to leave my painting alone.
Suddenly I had a moment of clarity. I felt truly ashamed of myself. Here was my son full of determination, and trying desperately to connect with a Mama who had been lost in her own thoughts all day. Here he was persevering, staying by my side despite how horrible and unwelcoming I was being. Here I was getting upset and hurting my sons feelings over a stupid painting.
That moment of clarity was exactly what I needed. I threw down the brush and delved into the paint with my fingers. I grabbed more paper, and suddenly we are laughing, he is painting my hands with his brush, we are connecting.
He looks me right in the eye and says “Hi Mummy” as if to say “There you are! Where did you go?”
I am struck by this tiny child and his patience for me. His love and belief never wavering, even when I feel I don’t deserve it.
Sometimes we all have a bad day, we say things we don’t mean and we are filled with regret and guilt. But what I have learned is that guilt and regret only make you feel worse unless you do something to make a change. There are no perfect parents and we are all doing the best we can.
When you have a moment of clarity, instead of looking backwards feeling sad and guilty, look to the present and make this moment better.
Our children want connection and are waiting for us to open our eyes to them.
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