Motherhood has a way of baiting and switching. As soon as I reach a day where all goes well, where the activities flow with minimal meltdown, where there is little TV and much pretend, music and dancing and reading, where my child puts away toys without being asks and says please and thank you more often then not, I think, "Wow! I really have this figured out!"
And then today happens.
Nothing particularly bad. Just twice as much TV by 10:30 am as I am actually comfortable with; two meltdowns, Lucy destroying something I was working on, me getting sulky twice (yes, ME, not her), and a child telling me that I tell her no way too often.
Coming as this does on the heels of Momalom's "Yes" posting for 5 for 10, wherein many mothers tried a "Yes" day where they banished no altogether, it did not make for a real confidence booster.
See, the thing is, I know I say no too often. I say no too often to myself. I like rules, and coloring between the lines, and caution and safety, and while this has brought some great things into my life (few relationship mishaps, not a lot of drama, stick-to-itiveness), it can also tend towards, well, stinginess. Boundaries, I'm fine with. But I can be stingy towards myself. I don't want to be stingy with my kids.
Funny thing though---there is no getting away from your personality when you're parenting.
I sat down with Lucy and I said, "Honey, I'm sorry. I know I say no too often. Can you use words to tell me that, instead of ruining things that I'm doing?"
She nodded, and sat on my lap, and we read a Frances book together. And the rest of the day has been fine.
I wish I had a perfectly whole mommy to give my children, a mommy that knew exactly when to say yes and no, that reacted with grace and generosity at all the right moments. But instead I am a beautiful but broken jar mended together with Bondo and spit-polished instead.
After a few hours of feeling bad about myself, I decided to feel good about a few things. One, I ask for forgiveness, and try to own up to my failings. Perhaps that will help my daughter more than me being perfect all the time, since forgiveness is more useful than perfection in this world. Two, talking to Lucy really seemed to make her feel better. That's got to count for something. And three, all of us took long naps today. Which means that a lot of what went wrong this morning wasn't my fault, but just us getting over our colds.
Sleep. A great confidence booster, any day.