Originally posted April 17, 2013 when I was on Day 435 of not yelling
Motherhood, motherhood, motherhood. You challenge me, you scare me, you delight me, you raise me, you please me, you displease me. Oh motherhood, you make me feel so many emotions. It is a rare a day goes by that I don’t feel elated one moment and deflated the next; only to feel elated a moment later.
Today was no different.
Around three o’clock today I received some thoughts about one of my sons that were disheartening.
Cue emotions: Sadness and Guilt.
It doesn’t matter which son it was about or what was said. It was neither bad nor good; it was just hard to hear. No, it was heart wrenching to hear. Absolutely heart wrenching. The “news” broke my heart. Even though I know it will all work out and that I know he will be fine, I will be fine, we will be fine, it still hurts to know that one of my sons is struggling. Upon hearing the news I immediately started in with the:
“It’s my fault. I am a bad mom. I am not present enough. I don’t play too much. I expect too much. I don’t expect enough. I don’t do enough. This is my entire fault. And if it isn’t my fault for acting wrong, it is my fault for sharing my DNA.”
Oh yes, I played the “I suck as a mom” card over and over and over in my head this afternoon. I was so down that I couldn’t even cry. I was past crying. I went through the motions of dinner calmly and lovingly. We all went peacefully up to bed and I kept my fingers crossed for a nice, dry bath time!
Bath time was a sh*tshow, but I loved every minute of it. You see, the bathroom joins two of my boys’ bedrooms, creating a grand total of 4 doors, or better yet, 4 ways to escape. I was doing my best to coral my munchkins into the bathroom, but tonight, oh tonight they had me beat. I would close one door only to have my mischievous 21 month old start running to open the next door; he of course was two steps behind his older brother who had opened another door. Doors slammed and laughter erupted as four little boys literally ran circles around me. I did all I could do: laugh. It was hysterical, I mean here I am a somewhat fit thirty-five year old woman unable to catch four kids and get them into a bath. Not infuriating at all; nope not tonight. I took major delight in the laughter, in the happiness, as it was such a welcomed treat compared to hours before.
My joy continued in the bathtub. Tonight’s bath was overflowing with bubbles. #2 decided he wanted a mustache and dipped his entire face in the soapsuds. He came up looking like Santa Claus instead.
Of course #3 and #4 followed suit. Seeing three faces covered in white soapsuds with just sparkling eyes peeping out was priceless. Of course #4 then decided to taste the soap and went diving in with his mouth wide open, just like a duck looking for a fish. He came up with a mouthful of soap and then blew it all out in my face while laughing hysterically. Tonight, at bath time, I was so grateful to be relaxed and calm and present. I think my sadness earlier made me more in touch with my love for my boys tonight and that allowed me to focus and stay connected. And well, not yelling totally helped too!
The circus continued well into story time. I was moving slow tonight, savoring every minute of bedtime. Such a gift to take bedtime slow without yelling. Such. A. Gift. #1 and #2 snuggled next to me for story time and #3 plopped down on my lap. OH BOY. That left nowhere for #4 who now considers himself, you know 4 even though he is yet to be two! He started pulling hair and trying to move everyone. He gave up. He literally straddled #3 and plopped down right on top of him so that he was in the center of it all, staring right at me.
His green eyes sparkled with pride and we all burst out laughing. It was a beautiful family moment that again, I savored because I wasn’t rushing it or yelling. Every child then scampered off to their rooms, their loveys in hand and hopefully their hearts full. I made my rounds of hugs and kisses and “I love you because….”
Then I got to the room of my son who I had received the thoughts about earlier.
Cue new emotions.
Cue: sadness, frustration, fear, empathy, concern, confusion, hope, guilt, pain and love, endless, endless love.
I had saved his room for last intentionally. Tonight, tonight I wanted to snuggle a little longer, talk a little longer, love a little bit more. I wanted to make sure that he knew he was a good kid. That I knew he was smart, talented, loving, likeable and more. You see, he doesn’t see that in himself. My sweet young child already is insecure more than the average child and it breaks me in two. No child should feel what he feels. No child should struggle as he does. And especially not my child.
“Okay munchkin, time for bed.”
“How about a book?” he asked.
“I was thinking tonight, instead of reading we could snuggle longer and talk more.”
“Okay I guess. As long as it is longer than the time we spend reading.”
“Absolutely. Twice as long, I promise. And I will sing you the lullabies I sang to you when you were a baby.”
He jumped into bed all excited.
“Here, come closer for a really big snuggle. I want you to feel all the love in my heart that I have for you.”
He snuggled up, a big sh*t eating grin on his face. The next part I wish I was creative enough to write and dream up. That is not the case. This actually happened.
“Do you feel my love? Do you know how much I love you?” I asked.
“Yes. I feel it all the way down to my toes. I feel it between my toes. And I feel it to my fingers and between my fingers. See here mommy, see the kind of V between my fingers? It’s like the bottom of a heart. Between every finger there is an imaginary heart where I feel your love for me.”
Tears STREAMING down my face, I said:
“Well good. Then if you can see those hearts in your hand, you will know that I am always with you and that I will always love you.”
“Okay, can you start singing now?”
I sang and then if on queue, another emotion arrived: the challenge of letting go.
“Mommy, you can stop hugging me now. I like to fall asleep alone.”
“Oh, okay. I love you though, with all my heart.”
Oh my dear son, I know you “know” but I truly hope you really “know” how deep and strong my love is for you. I am here for you dear son, I will fight for you and with you my dear son. I will help you, I will help me, my dear son. We will get through this.
Cue new emotion: Determination.
Yes Motherhood is one heck of a roller coaster of emotions, many of which I have never experienced in such depth. And yet, I wouldn’t trade it in for the world because at the core of all these conflicting emotions is one very clear and unwavering one that is driving them all: my deep love for my boys, my four sweet beautiful boys.
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I share more of my heartbreaking motherhood stories, as well as steps to stop yelling, tips to prevent yelling, and fun, not heartbreaking stories, in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” You can pre-order it by clicking here.