This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.
I knew it the second the alarm clock shouted at me at 6:40AM, I was tired. Not tired, exhausted. My muscles and bones ached, and my eyelids felt as if they weighed 110 pounds. I wanted to hit snooze, but with my husband out of town for two long weeks, I didn’t have any backup or help. So I said my prayer of gratitude and lazily rolled out of bed to start the day.
The coffee brewed, the lunches were packed, and then it was time to wake up the girls. What mood would they be in today? Praying for peace I grabbed one of the kittens and softly laid her on our oldest daughter’s chest. She smiled and woke up happy, and I was happy I dodged a bullet.
Then I went to door number two and was met with resistance and crying. “I don’t want to go to school, I just want to be with you!” The transition after winter break was harder with a preschooler, and I knew we were in for a doozy of a morning.
After breakfast, it was time to do their hair, and I was relieved to hear our five-year-old just wanted little side twists. Easy peasy! Except when I put the wrong bow in to complete the look and used the wrong color bobby pin. I fixed it once and when she was still unhappy I said with a phony smile,
“Why don’t you pick what you want and do it yourself? And if you can’t get the bow in, ask your sister for help?”
I walked out of the bathroom for a little time out, saying to myself over and over, “I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids.” But I knew this wasn’t over, and less than a minute later the crying started again.
I once again tried to stay calm and asked her to please leave her hair, get her shoes and socks on, and we would finish her hair when she was done getting dressed. She was crying hard, but I was frustrated so I turned away to get myself dressed.
Ten minutes went by and all was calm until I walked into her room. Not only were her shoes not on, but her room was a mess with the Legos she started. I knew in my heart I shouldn’t yell, but I couldn’t help myself.
“Why aren’t your shoes on, we’re late!? Why can’t you just do what you’re supposed to do? WHY CAN’T YOU LISTEN?” I shouted. And the tears turned to sobs. So bad she couldn’t control herself. “I can’t put on my socks, I don’t know how!” she choked through tears.
“I’ve taught you how to do it – you’re five now, you’ll have to go to school barefoot then!”
And that’s when the tears turned to dry heaves. Instantly I regretted the words, shaming her, and making her feel bad for not knowing how to dress herself. But I was so tired. Tired of the hair drama, tired of doing everything for everyone else, yet tired of never having time for ME. And I selfishly took it out on her.
At this point, we were super late and I had a choice; hurry her in the car, or fix this with love and compassion.
So I sat on the floor, scooped her into my arms and held her. I wiped her tears, I hugged her, and I listened. I asked her what she specifically couldn’t do with her socks, and helped her. She practiced holding the seam of the sock with both hands, and eventually did it herself
In the car, I knew I needed to put on my big girl pants, and make these quiet and solemn girls feel better.
“Girls, I’m so sorry. Mommy doesn’t like to yell and I made you feel bad today. But grown-ups, like kids, make mistakes all the time. We aren’t perfect, and even though we need to set a good example sometimes life is hard. I’m sorry I yelled, I’m sorry I wasn’t more helpful, and I promise to do better tomorrow.”
They accepted and even told me I didn’t have to apologize, and I cried. I cried because I was wrong. I cried because I was tired. I cried because I wanted to be better.
Yes, today I was a bad mom. I wasn’t patient, I wasn’t kind, and I wasn’t loving. But that’s OK, because I owned up to it, and taught them a bigger lesson. That we all are perfectly imperfect and it’s important to admit when we are wrong. That we all fail, but how we respond in that moment is what will shape our future.
The great thing about being a bad mom is there’s always another day, another chance to wipe the slate clean. And tomorrow, I will be my version of a good mom. They might wear mismatched socks and have non-organic prepackaged food in their lunch boxes, but they’ll be fiercely loved.
And no matter what happens, we’ll all be OK.
If you liked this post, then please read The Single Worst Thing About Being a Working Mom.
Or My Best Day as A Mom So Far, when my daughter helped me learn about self-love.
Or you might like 5 Ways to Fill Your Cup When Life Gets Overwhelming.