I have one memory of putting my kids to bed, telling them I love them but feeling like a complete hypocrite, the tears rolling down my cheeks. It was just a few weeks after I had given birth to my third baby.
My husband had been out for the evening and so I was on my own to get the “big kids”, who were only 2.5 and 5, bathed and into bed while attending to a newborn. Any mom in the situation would know, that’s not as easy as it sounds. The kids were in the bath, and just wanted to play, but I wanted them to hurry up and get bathed quickly and easily. The newborn at the time had horrible acid reflux and would cry so hard most of the time when she wasn’t being held.
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I found myself not able to leave the kids who were not cooperating alone in the bath, and at the same time the newborn was in her crib screaming at the top of her lungs for what felt like forever (it was probably 5 minutes). So, I lost it. I screamed at the kids, startling them both into tears. I said some guilt ridden demanding sentence along the lines of “you’re not letting me get you bathed, the baby is screaming and you need to cooperate with me now.” After that they were more compliant and let me bathe them and get their pajamas on, but at what cost? They weren’t cooperating, they were afraid.
When things had quieted down and I was tucking them into bed, kissing them goodnight saying I love you, sure I recognized I was doing me best, and of course I truly love them, but I thought how confusing that must be for them! I was telling them one thing, but mommy had acted a completely different way 20 mins ago.
Parenting is hard and overwhelming l, parents everywhere; I feel you and I hear you, it is just A LOT, but we can’t afford to lose it on our kids. IT WILL HAPPEN, and when it does we can’t beat ourselves up, we’re human, but we do want to do everything in our power not to just tell them we love them, but to show it to them, with love, and gentleness even in the moments when we feel like they can make us pull our hair out. This is when they will feel it and believe us, even more then when we tell it to them.