After throwing my screaming toddler over my shoulder, I greeted my husband with an exasperated look.
I had enough! I was so done.
What was once an innocent meal with my toddler turned into a nightmare in less than five minutes.
For those who know me, usually I am a quiet momma who has parenting patience that could last a lifetime. However, one restless night and a stressful morning led to the ultimate toddler dinnertime stare down.
The excessive crying had muddled my judgement, the kicking had raised my temper, the toy throwing had thrown out understanding. What really sent me into an upset momma spiral was the persistence my toddler was demonstrating.
But, it was in a small moment where my toddler looked at me and spewed a very defiant “NO” in my direction that I felt my anger rise to a new level I have never felt before.
I set her in the crib, gave her a kiss goodnight, and ran out of the room before my husband saw the tears hit my cheeks. Sinking to my knees on the bathroom floor, I let my anger flow through burning tears and ignored every pound on the door as my husband questioned what in the world he just walked into.
Yes, I was crying because I was angry but once the clouds began to clear I could feel the momma guilt as if it were a hundred pound weight on my chest.
Why did I react that way?
What did I just teach my toddler? To respond angerly when something doesn’t go our way?
Was she now laying in bed questioning if mommy really loved her?
Would Jesus had responded that way?
All of this over food that my toddler refused to eat?
Did I just ruin that sacred bond between a mother and her daughter? Did I warp my daughter’s perception of who I am?
Questions kept spewing out like lightning — faster than I could answer them! In fact, I didn’t have the answers. I just sat in a depressed puddle of tears questioning my life as a mother and as a woman.
A half hour passed before I finally had the strength to emerge from the bathroom and at that very moment I had two choices:
- Give up and relax on the couch
- Go back to my daughter and try to mend what was broken
Despite my awful knack of scurrying away from conflict I decided to put a brave smile on my face, crack open the nursery door and wake my sleeping monster to apologize. Bracing myself for a fight, I scooped up my baby only to be taken aback as she stretched her arms around my neck and nuzzled in for a kiss.
As I rocked my daughter that night I realized something very precious: she has already forgiven me.
Even though I was worrying about potential outcomes, stressing about long-term effects this shortcoming may have, and developing ways I could apologize — my toddler was already passed it and ready to receive much-needed love from her momma.
I had forgotten that a child’s heart is much more pure and innocent than my own — this is part of the reason why Jesus told us to “become like children” (Matthew 18:3). She had no reason to hold onto anger towards me. My toddler’s mind had no grasp on holding grudges and passing judgement; to her I am her one and only momma — judgement cannot coexist with that pure of a love nestled in her heart.
In the end I did apologize because I want to teach my daughter that it’s not in the argument that defines us but rather the way we bounce back and apologize fearlessly. As mommas/women/daddies/men, we are going to mess up — it’s impossible to avoid. We are going to say and do things we regret! So, instead of worrying about messing up in front of my daughter, I decided that the more valuable lesson is teaching her how to humble ourselves by apologizing (which is a very hard thing to do in this “me, me, me” society).
You see, one bad day does not make you a bad mom. One bad day does not surpass the years of good. One bad day does not define how you stand as a parent nor does it change the way your child loves you. I think we do not give our children enough credit when it comes to love and forgiveness. Yes, they may not fully understand the act of “forgiving” but we could learn a thing or two about forgiveness from our children. Their hearts are so pure — forgiveness comes naturally to them.
All we can do is parent the best we can and ask God to shine through our shortcomings. Despite Instagram’s push towards perfection — no parent is perfect. Motherhood is hard and sometimes all we can do is keep trying, and trying, and trying. Every one of us mess up and do things we aren’t proud of but not every parent knows how to apologize and make right a wrong.
So what do you say, momma? Did you have a bad day today? Is there a wrong you need to make right?
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the small giveaway I am hosting! It’s so easy to enter and you will have the chance to win one of the two books in the picture above. Click the picture to learn more!