One of the things I most look forward to during the week, are the weekends with the girls. I don't know if it's just because it's summer and there are so many fun things to do with them, but I can't wait for the day to get going Saturday morning. This usually involves a walk down to the local coffee shop and then perhaps a walk to the park.
It was our walk to the shop on Saturday morning that I told Benny how important it is to me that we be "in the moment" with our girls. Because Hazel's growing up so fast that I'm already feeling a little melancholy about her childhood. And she's STILL a toddler! I just know that there's going to come a time, in the not too distant future, when these walks simply won't happen. When we simply won't get to interact in such an innocent way with our girls. When they won't stop to look at every snail, roly-poly bug or dragonfly along the walk. When they'll be more interested in boys or the latest techy gadget that they can zone out with.
I want to be able, at that time, to not have any regrets about the time I spent with them when they were young. It's hard enough that they're in day care during the day and I'm missing a lot anyway. I want to make up for that by being completely present with them when we do have this time on the weekends and in the mornings and nights of the weekdays. In my mind, it's quality vs quanity. I feel like we do a pretty good job of this. I can't even tell you the last time I watched TV for more than 5 minutes... I can guarantee it was after the kiddos went to bed. And even then, I didn't have time to zone out because there was laundry to do, or I had to pick up the remnants of an awesome wrestling session in the living room... and an epic dinner in the kitchen.
And I love it. Just being in the moment... and being there when Hazel discovers a rock that she wants to put in her pocket. I love being there to help her put it in her pocket and I love being there to witness just how much she LOVES pockets. I love being there when Millie stares at her older sister adoringly... and Hazel gives her a big kiss and a hug. These... these are moments that become tattooed on my heart.
But then... then there are days like yesterday when I feel like I have completely failed as a mother. I know a lot of people are going to say that I'm too hard on myself. That she won't remember how I yelled at her for the non-stop whining. Because there was nothing she was whining about. She was just whining about... being. And after the 45th minute of the whining... I yelled. Just yelled her name in a stern YELLING voice. But she startled and looked at me with an innocence that just said to me: "I'm not even 2 yet. I just don't know how to handle my emotions in this big world. Why are you yelling at me?"
And, of course, I felt immediately guilty. I dropped down to a knee, told her I was sorry and that I loved her and that I just needed her to use her words instead of whining. She curbed the whining somewhat after my outburst... somewhat. But is that how I'm going to control my kiddos? By scaring them with my big loud gym voice?
But, that night when we got home from school, the first thing she saw was the trike that we had picked up at a garage sale that weekend. And... "WANT!"
Benny's out of town for work all week, so I'm single-momming it. And Millie needed to be fed and put to bed. So Hazel's "WANT" came second on the list of priorities. Which obviously is as good a reason as any for an epic meltdown. One that only Cheerios could fix. But when she wanted to eat her Cheerios on the table... which would mean she would end up standing on the chair and probably falling off the chair, as she is prone to do... Mommy had to explain that her choice was to eat Cheerios in her high chair, or not eat Cheerios at all. Those were the only choices.
ANOTHER epic meltdown. One that had me taking her to her room, asking her if she needed to go to bed (NO!) and then putting her down in her crib anyway because she was hitting me and pushing me away. And she immediately tried to climb out of the crib... all of the while screaming bloody murder. We tried the high chair again. NO!!! She tried the table again. No. We ended up back in her room in the crib. NONONONONO! Finally, I left her in her room and shut the door. I stood outside the door and listened (as punishment to myself) to her losing her freaking mind and pounding on the door. After about 30 seconds, I opened the door and she ran into my arms.
Making me feel like a complete arse.
I remember when I was a kid (although, not as young as Hazel) that sometimes when I misbehaved and my mom was mad at me... sometimes all I wanted was a hug and for her to tell me she still loved me regardless.
I also remember telling Benny - on SUNDAY - that I don't want to be a yeller. That I know I have it in me to yell (genetics)... but I just think that I can raise my girls without yelling at them. I mean... for the LOVE... she's not even 2 yet! Surely, I have enough emotional intelligence to not let a toddler send me into a tailspin of frustrated yelling.
So, yea... yesterday was a fail. But I guess as a parent, that's how it goes. I can learn from it and work harder for the next day. I'm not going to let one bad day define my parenting ability.
And today? Today, we had a much better morning. No whining. Just happiness.