Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Mom Sorry"

I yelled at Caroline the other day - Caroline and Jonah. The kind of yell that is borne of my own exhaustion and unrelated frustrations, but comes out as though they have betrayed the very heart of me by . . . playing in the dirt.

The wrong dirt, at the wrong time. I usually don't mind my kids jumping into outside dirty. I had better let them do something, since everything with an electric cord, or batteries makes me get all impatient and irritated. But this was right by the newly planted tomatoes, and fit snugly in the twenty minutes after bath and before bed. So I am the backyard banshee, demanding obedience and some kind of retribution from a four and seven year old. I corral muddy little bodies into the house, pushing them with undo force.

Our back door opens into the house at the top of the stairs to the basement. We have trained ourselves to open gently and slow should there ever be a child at the top of those stairs. A child at the top of those stairs would be bumped right down to the bottom by a door flung open in anger. So when I flung open the door in anger it caught the moment that the baby was making her way through that little square of floor from stairs to kitchen. It also caught the side of her head. I waited for a split second envisioning her tiny body tumbling down too many stairs to the floor that had at least been recently carpeted, instead of the welcome block of hard tile that used to catch my kids when they fell down the stairs.

Instead she screamed and clung to the wall. Anger rushed out of me, replaced by a flood of shame. I left the muddy children, scooped up the crying baby, and locked myself in my bedroom to hide from my own parenting. Cecily and I cried together. Her head was fine. She wiped my tears saying "Mama crying?" Matt eventually came in to sit quietly with me, never chastising me for my ill behavior. Natural consequences worked well enough in this case.

After enough time had passed to make me feel almost ready to go apologize to the rest of my family there was a timid knock on my bedroom door. Caroline came in - no signs of mud and clad in pajamas - to offer her own silent apology.

She explained that she is the little girl in the picture and "The tears are me crying because I made a wrong choice."

I told her I made a wrong choice too, and I'm old, and it still made me cry.


Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

And I'm crying now too, for the tenderness and bittersweetness of parenting little children. And for the particular sweetness of you and your children.

Menner said...

Oh, and I'm balling. I hear you, Jessica. I hear you.

Not that this should make you feel any better, but knowing you struggle with this issue too gives me great comfort.

I think that you are so amazing and caring and loving and gentle and an INCREDIBLE mother. I know you're not perfect and have many weaknesses you are working on overcoming. But you are an inspiration to me. And knowing that we share the burden of anger and the habit of misdirecting it makes me feel like there is hope for me to be as incredible as you one day.

Bless you. And may Heavenly Father endow you with patience, wisdom, and perspective. You are a wonderful mother and a dearest sister.

Chani said...

Great. Cried two posts in a row. :/

aubtobobtolob said...

I'm with Chani... two in a row. good grief gurl you can write.
I of course have always been immune to anger issues soooo hard to relate on that one.
p.s. you should get paid for your perfect pen... key board... mind.