"I'm sorry I was no good at this today." I whispered, through tears, to my nearly 2 year today. By this, I meant being a mom. Because I felt like a complete failure. Everything seemed to go wrong and we were both really frustrated. My son was craving more attention than I could offer him in those moments because I was working. He lashed out by slamming my laptop shut over and over, throwing things, pouring water all over everything and yelling "no" when I tried to comfort him
I sat on the floor and cried, frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted. Then I felt a tiny hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see his little face, wide-eyed and curious. When he saw my tears, he put his arms around my neck and hugged me. Then he gave me a kiss and said "mama, no." He didn't say anything else.. but he didn't need to. Those two little words told me everything I needed to know. He was sorry. He didn't want me to cry. He was just expressing himself the only ways he really knows how. He can't speak full, coherent thoughts, so he reacts. He reacts the same way I imagine I would react if I didn't have the ability to speak.
We worked through it together from that point. He helped me clean up the water and the toys he'd thrown. I didn't ask, I just began tidying up and he chose to help on his own. Sometimes a toddler's actions seem malicious but they're really just human. They're learning so much in such a short period of time and I'm sure that's stressful for them. When they're sad, frustrated, angry or bored, they communicate that the only way they know how. I truly believe in the power of words and honesty. I want our home to continue to be a safe space for both of my boys to tell us how they feel, and I know they will be a lot more inclined to be open with us if we are open with them.
So I told Kai how I felt. I didn't feel like I had excelled as a mother today, and I was really sad about it. I was sorry for yelling. I was sorry for not putting aside time for him. Toddlers understand so much more than we tend to give them credit for, so I always speak to my toddler, and my 12 year old, the same way (minus any colourful language) I would my husband or another adult. Emotions are a huge factor for us as human beings and they play a role in every decision we make. It's perfectly normal to let our emotions get the best of us. It's the expectation we put on ourselves to be perfect that is abnormal. You're your child's first educator, so of course modelling the behaviour you expect of them is key.. ..but it's okay to fail. Today was that day for me. I have quite a few of those days. I didn't keep my cool, I didn't self-regulate my emotions and I didn't use MY words to tell Kai how I was feeling until emotions had reached their peak.
But that's okay. I know I'm a good mom, and tomorrow is a new day. You're a good parent too. Tomorrow is a new day. So forgive yourself for the less-than-perfect days because life is never perfect. Just real. Raw, authentic, flawed, beautiful, painful and real. And I'm just grateful to have a 'tomorrow'. And if tomorrow is imperfect too, know that we're all, as parents, riding those same waves.