Yesterday morning, I was in a bit of a huff. Everything, every little thing, bugged me. I don’t know exactly what made me so cranky, but cranky I was. And unfortunately for my children, their age-appropriate actions really threw my crankiness into overdrive.
Abby spent the post-breakfast half hour coloring and asking me how to spell many words. On the 379th word (ok, ok, 42nd word), my intelligent daughter asked,
“Mommy, how do you spell birthday?”
“Mommy, how do you spell birthday?”
"Mommy, how do you spell birthday?"
“Mommy, how do y…
I finally, huffily explained that I couldn’t concentrate on making lunches and spell many words at the same time. I told her that I might put her cow’s milk into her milk-allergic brother’s lunch, give her blueberries (gasp!) instead of applesauce, etc. I fancy myself a proficient multi-tasker. Apparently I am not so proficient or fancy and I successfully smacked that learning fever right out my inquisitive daughter.
Despite the fact that my huff was picking up speed, I was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Beds were made, kids were dressed, camp backpacks and lunches patiently awaited our departure. So I thought I had time to pop onto the computer to send an important email. Silly Mommy. Henry walks in covered in water. Abby walks in with a beaming smile, so proud of the butt-part hairdo she’s given her brother. While she dutifully dampened his curly mop to comb it, he dutifully played in the running water and soaked his camp clothes.
They then hopped on the guest bed, clearly plotting against me to undo the one bed I hadn’t had to make this morning.
So I hit send, slammed the computer closed, remade that already-made bed and headed to the bathroom.
Abby pulls out all my lipsticks and glosses and asks which ones she can wear and why there are some she cannot. Henry bee-lines to my closet and with grand flourish pulls many pairs of my shoes of their shelves and starts handing me every one of my necklaces. This is a typical morning. But my huff is now way past huffdom and I’m now well into pissy.
Somewhere during this bathroom fun Abby brought me a picture she’d colored for me earlier. I quickly put it on the bathroom counter and dashed. I got the kids to camp. (Henry, now a member in the pissy club, screamed when I left him because his regular teacher was on vacation.) I got myself to the gym, cranked up my MP3 player and tried to work out whatever funky-funk had taken residence.
I pondered my moodiness. I had a visit from my self-critic and she pounced,
“BAD MOM! Kids will have awful days because of your bad mood! They don’t think you love them! BAD!” Moodiness quickly moved over to make room for heavy guilt.
I went home, showered and glanced down at the bathroom counter. There sat the drawing Abby had given me earlier. Four dark gray clouds lined the top of the paper. Thick green, blue and yellow hash marks fell from the ominous clouds. My perceptive daughter forecasted my mood perfectly with her Crayolas.
Interestingly, her perspective started to part my storm. I remembered a conversation we had on the way to school:
“It’s hard for me when you and your brother take apart things that I’ve just put together, like the beds. I was in a bad mood this morning and I’m shouldn’t have been grouchy with you. I’m sorry and I love you.”
“It’s ok mommy.”
She’s right. It IS ok. Being a good parent isn’t about being a perfect person. A good parent teaches their children how to deal with life’s inevitable, four-dark-gray-clouds-and-multi-colored-rain days. I showed her that bad moods happen to everyone (especially mommy). I hope she remembers not that I was a bitch but that I rectified a situation that I had handled badly.
I hope that she begins to grasp that people, including her, are not perfect. Life isn’t happily-ever-after with blue birds on our shoulders. The perfection myth needs to be busted open (but I shall blog on that another day). It’s a continuing life lesson which I’m clearly still trying to master after 36 years of ardent practice.
My take-away today: some things are meant to be undone. My great undoer undid my funk. And today, Abby's forecast called for purple flowers and rainbow skies. So far, she’s predicting with 100% accuracy.