"Bad days" in our house are rare. An anomaly in a long string of happiness. Most days around here are built on some combination of harmony, magic, laughter, and light.
Others days, however, are not.
Yesterday was the latter. It started out hard and went rapidly down hill. Like an elephant on rollerskates. I guess that's how the big lessons come. Fast and loud and something you simply can't ignore.
The day began with lots of (emotional, child-sized) interruptions while I was trying to work (and Pete was trying in earnest to parent) and kept unraveling from there. By 4 PM I was hiding in the basement with a coffee cup packed with ice cream and chocolate chips, pretending to do laundry. (When you consider that my five year old frequently follows me through the house, pulling this off was no small feat.)
No, yesterday was not my shining moment of motherhood. I yelled. I actually yelled – something I almost never do, and then I did it again, and then again, and again. I totally lost it. And for whatever reason, all of my non-violent parenting tricks flew rapidly out the window at the crucial moments when I could have (and indeed knew how to) turned it all around.
In hindsight the whole mess was rather ridiculous and was over some house cleaning nonsense that at the time seemed vital to my survival. (Clearly it was vital to my sanity, but not because it was actually important. I was just being stubborn.) I just made it into something bigger than it was because I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed by other things. And that took a lot of reflection to realize.
Yes, there is a lot on our plate right now. We're working on selling our house and buying some land and building a cabin to live in and… well, making some major life changes. And while this is all good stress, it is stress just the same. And somehow the momentum of all of the simplification I did this weekend left me expecting more from my five year old than she could possibly deliver. And I lost it. And that wasn't nice.
I could have gone to the place of being silly and playful to get her to join in the work, but I didn't. I could have made a game or a race out of it so that work became play, but I didn't. I could have talked to her about how frustrated I was feeling (I did) and then worked together with my girl to find a solution that worked for us both (but I didn't).
I'm sharing this because I want you to know that things here are not always perfect. Days like this I never forget because they are ugly and unusual, but yes, I still have them on occasion.
Sometimes as parents we come unhinged – each in our own way, but it happens. And then what? And then we apologize. We pull it together. We hug and kiss and acknowledge that grown ups are human too. That mama just had a little tantrum of her own. And we look for a better way to do it next time. We connect and do our best to heal what we hurt. And we forgive ourselves for being human and get on with doing better tomorrow.
That is the mission that I'm on today. To find my higher self and parent from a place of love, not stress. Because yesterday's option felt good to no one. Not even me. Especially not me.
As for a better way to convince my five year old to clean her room – even with lots of help – next time? I'm not sure what that is. But yesterday will serve as a great example of what didn't work for anyone.
Today I'll remember to lead with love.