Mama, has this ever happened to you? You're duking it out with one of the offspring, but then Daddy comes in and steals your thunder? I mean, the mama-thunder. The thunder that was going to WIN THIS BATTLE.....well, it happened to me. And you'll never BELIEVE what my husband said after I got mad at him for rescuing me.
“I wasn’t trying to be her hero, I was trying to be yours.”
Aghhh. Gut punch. Cue the tears and self-loathing.
Let me take you back. I’ll spare you the most of the details of our ridiculous day, which included but was not limited to:
Me allowing Josie to wear my great grandmother’s wedding ring on her toe and then us thinking it was lost only to have had it been looped through Josie’s sandal the entire desperate and frantic time. (What was I thinking?!?!)
Josie not sleeping at all during her naptime and getting glitter from her dress allllllll over her bed and then in her eyes so that they were red and puffy by the time she emerged from her room, sleepless hours later.
Me letting our tiny dog outside in the 100 degree heat before heading upstairs for what I assumed was a quick paci-pop-in for a fussy Cal. Fast forward to AN HOUR LATER when Cal is still not settled no matter what I try and Case is panicking at the back door. I let him inside, he starts shaking, I start crying, he lets out a 15-second-long adult, human scream that I’m pretty sure rattles the wall décor, poops on the floor, and I assume he’s dying. (Thank you, Jesus, he was back to normal in almost no time!)
All of this happened in the hour and 15 minutes that Ryan ran to Menards to buy caulk.
So by the time bedtime rolled around, I was sooooooooooooooo done. And the napless Josie was in rare form. Ryan went out to scrape paint off the side of the house while I attempted to put Josie to bed. She stalled, I boiled over. She screamed, I yelled back. It was the battle of the century. I was determined to WIN. THIS. THING. when all of a sudden, Ryan just waltzes in all calm, picks Josie up, and says to me, “I’ll take it from here.”
And instead of being grateful, I actually said the following words. Man, this is even hard to type, I’m so ashamed. I said, “Ohhhhh sure, just come right in and be her hero. I’m not leaving. I am ENDING THIS with her.”
Calmly, he excused me from the room again, so I came down to the kitchen to pout and ponder what a horrible mother I was that I couldn’t even get my girl to bed, and ponder what a horrible girl I had that she couldn’t even follow a set of simple instructions without losing her mind.
And I remembered how just a few days ago, I had experienced peace in my motherhood for a time. How glorious it was! And I began to get frustrated….why couldn’t I just KEEP THAT PEACE? Why does the tiny human bring out the worst in me?
It was then that Ryan came down the stairs after 3 successful minutes, wrapped me in a hug, and said, “I wasn’t trying to be her hero, I was trying to be yours. I heard her screaming from outside and thought to myself, ‘Oh, I bet Lisa might need some help.’”
Well, I’m the worst. Ha! Lordy, I mean, what a horrible moment, but so redeeming at the same time. I started telling myself the truth in that hug. I am a good mom. Josie’s a good girl. We both have some work to do – ESPECIALLY when it comes to bedtime. We will figure all of this out if we keep putting in the work and she will be a world-changer.
As with most days like this, it makes for really good radio content, and the next day our team got together to plan our show and I presented the hot mess that was my day. Of course the guys didn’t really know where to start with me because WHAT IS MY LIFE?! But Daron, pastor and a decade ahead of me in parenthood, asked why I got so angry when Josie wouldn’t go to bed.
Because I’m afraid. I’m scared that she will never listen, will always stall, will turn out to be a horrible human. Yes, I can tell all of this in my worst flash forwards during bedtime. But mostly, I’m protective and selfish of MY TIME. I get to be just me after 7 p.m. And at 7:10 I’m seeing red because now Josie’s taking something away from me.
So here’s what we figured out and will share on the air this weekend. It just might come down to anger vs. compassion. Now, this is just a working theory, so hear me out and also weigh in! But when we lead with anger, it’s generally stemming from a place of selfishness. In the case of the bedtime struggle, it’s me thinking about how Josie is wasting MY TIME and how she will reflect negatively on ME as a parent.
If I approached bedtime with compassion – something I still have yet to try (oops!) – I could lead calmly and firmly, knowing that what’s best for Josie is quiet time and lots of rest. And what’s best for her is to respond well to authority and to direction. Compassion wouldn’t mean excusing her behavior, but it could mean being more of a guide than a crazy dictator, which is probably the nicest way I could describe myself when I lose my cool with her.
So, what now? How do we stay compassionate with our kids? Especially in the heat of the moment…
I don’t exactly know, but let’s try this:
Create and maintain a healthy life: This is what self-care actually is. If you’re all wound up about the goings-on in your life, then you’ll be a wound up parent, too. Invest in yourself. Create space for what brings you joy and peace.
Keep at it: Ugh, mothering is so tiring! It’s such hard work, but it is worth it. Keeping putting in the hard work and you will someday see the fruits of your labor. Keep your sails up! (We will, right?! That’s what they say so I’m banking on that being true!)
Tell yourself the truth: We talk a lot about truth and lies and what we believe about ourselves. Keep practicing replacing those lies with the truth.