January 14, 2014

Bad Days: When I Fail as a Parent/ What Cuts My "Mommy-Heart" Deep

Today was a bad day. It was Claire's second day to nap without a paci and it did NOT go smoothly.

At one point she was giggling uproariously and jumping on her bed as I watched on the monitor. My emotions ranged from humored (at the beginning), to seeing red. It became a battle.

I stupidly set up threats I didn't really want to see through (no nap = no "fun" snack/  no nap= no church (which we were obligated to go to)) and I ended up feeling punished by my own threat.

Is there a "Strong-willed Mommy" book I can read?
I got mad. And I expressed my displeasure to Claire and battled her out til she finally slept a wiped out kind of sleep... at exactly the moment when our family needed to leave for church.  

Mommy fail.

After 30 minutes I woke her up to prove my point and "win" so we still went to church and she aquiesced and napped. I won. It was so stupid and in the calm of her finally sleeping I saw that I was actually the loser.

She had given in and finally fallen asleep but her last memory was of me standing angrily in her room saying, "Mommy is really unhappy Claire. You're being really disobedient. Do NOT get up. Mommy is NOT happy with Claire!"

And storming (well.. .walking with purpose) out of her room yet again as she wailed, "Mommmmyyyy!" in the background.

Mind you, this was maybe my thirtieth time to go back in her room. I had threatened spankings. I had taken her to the potty. I had sang to her, prayed with her etc. This  had been an ordeal.

On our way to church I apologized to her and said how much I loved her. After a few minutes I asked, "How did you feel when mommy was mad at you?"

Honestly, I expected her to say, "Sad" or "bad", or something like that.

And she said quietly, "When mommy was mad at me, I was mad at mommy.... I was mad at you."

Something about this killed me inside. 

She was feeling and mirroring my emotions. Though not acting out in a crazy way, my heart had been seething with anger and frustration at her after almost two hours of "nap battles".

I felt out of control and responded in resentful anger at her misbehavior.

And she felt that.. and worse yet- mirrored it.

We arrived at church and I held her tiny little hand as we walked up to the doors. We had "made up" and hugged and I had said over and over that I loved her.

As she happily walked to the church doors she nonchalantly said, "I hope my friends aren't mad at me."

Like it was the most normal conversation piece in the world.

And my mommy heart died a little.

I assured her they weren't and that mommy was sorry she had been mad earlier.

Then she said, "I hope they are kind of me." (kind to me).

My mommy heart was bleeding and crying then.

Later tonight, when Jacob was putting her down he called me into the room and said Claire had something to tell me.

She said, "Today mommy was mad at me." She pointed at me.."and I was mad at you.. I was mean to you. I'm sorry" and she hugged me.

And I could tell she meant it. She buried her little head in my neck and squeezed me tight the way I'm always trying to hug her.

My heart melted... I was so blessed by her little apology.

Jacob mouthed, "I didn't tell her to say anything!"

And oh how it blessed my mommy heart. I almost cried and then I hugged her long and hard and we were both giggling breathlessly and couldn't stop.

Jacob was so happy too.

Claire saw how happy this made us and went from person to person hugging and apologizing again and again.

We talked about how she didn't have to keep apologizing and Jacob tried to explain that when we forgive it's all okay between us. I don't know if she understood but man- that little exchange was such a blessing to me.

Little rainbows after a dark storm.

Later,  Jacob helped me to see the redeeming quality that (though I feel like I failed miserably), at least in seeking reconciliation in humility with Claire, I was modeling that very behavior that she also mirrored back. I was modelling in some small way that Christ also modeled for us complete humility and a ministry of reconciliation.

Man... sometimes dying to myself is so hard. Dying to my grudges and actually taking part in that humility and being a minister of reconciliation is the hardest yet most redeeming thing I can do.

And let me tell you, reconciliation  and humility are things I struggle with. The ugly inside of me (flesh) wars hard against those things. But the Spirit inside of me helps me daily to try and round off those hard edges so that maybe one day those qualities will come more easily.. Along with patience and gentleness.

To top it off, later I was reading Mundane Faithfulness and Kara asked how everyone would live differently if they knew their days were numbered. While I always enjoy Kara's posts and am so blessed by them- today it was reading the comments from other mommies that cut me to the quick..

Mom after mom saying they wished they had cared less about the cleaning/duties and played more, loved more, been more gentle, even had more children. It was just the focus on love and grace I was needing.

Less time schedules/ bed times/ clean houeses/ comparisons etc. and just more love.

I recommend reading Kara's post too.

What about you? If you knew your days were numbered how would you live differently?


Mike and Emily said...

Oh my this had me crying. So good and so true and so poignant and so agreeable. I thinks it's the hardest part about being a parent. Thanks for sharing and for being so raw. You have a great way with words!

The Reeds said...

Thanks Emily. It's so hard. I didn't expect having children to be so personal and refining. It's so hard to be refined. :/ I'm grateful for it but man... it's hard. Thanks for the encouraging words.

The Kowals said...

So sorry y'all are battling the naps -- tough time but right on for her age so take comfort in that she is totally normal! Also, reading the part of you standing in her room "scolding" her brought to mind the night before last with B. I hate what you say because his last memory before falling asleep was me "scolding" him in a similar fashion :( Granted I also had gone in countless times: singing, hand holding, tissue bringing like a good little bedtime servant! It hurts to know I left him that way. But, I take comfort in that apologizing and seeking reconciliation with a child is so powerful for their hearts. Just because we are big and hold the powerful title of "Mommy" doesn't mean we are infallible (thank goodness!) It is powerful because it shows them (and us) our need of our Savior. lots of love sister

The Reeds said...

Thanks Amanda. It's tough being mommy and wanting to be gentle and loving but also wanting to control things somehow. My little girl doesn't want to be controlled "any how". :)

Jennifer Mykytiuk said...

What's great example you were for Claire today! Not. Failure! You taught Claire not how to be a perfect mommy, which we will never live up to no matter how hard I try! You taught her the power of forgiveness and humility and reconciliation through your example! I think you did a great job of turning a difficult situation around. You couldn't have spoken truer words! I know it's a struggle I have too! Thanks for sharing!

The Reeds said...

Thanks for the encouraging words Jennifer. Boy it's a challenge being a mommy isn't it!

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