I have to confess something and it’s been pulling on my heart longer than I’d like to admit. I have had the worst attitude toward and about my children and they’re picking up on it.
My husband is an accountant and the closer we get to April 18th the longer his absence becomes. We parent as a duo; where I am weak he is strong and vice versa. The kids miss him. I miss him. He misses us. we’re all just one big mess of missing that integral part of our family: Dad.
My kids are in second grade, preschool and almost three-years-old. They don’t know how to tell me that they miss their daddy. They probably don’t even realize that is how they’re feeling. What do they do? They take it out on me. I’m the main parental figure in the picture and when you’re used to a strong presence from both Mom and Dad the lengthy absence of one starts to really get under your skin. In my head I know all of this. My mind knows that when they tell me I’m the meanest mom ever for not allowing them to watch TV they don’t really mean it. I know that when my almost three-year-old is yelling and kicking me because I’m trying to change her diaper (yeah, she’s still not potty trained and I’m not going to push it until tax season is over and she’s ready) that she doesn’t really mean to be physically hurting me. I can even wrap my head around my preschooler telling me that she hates me.
My head understands all of these actions aren’t really how they feel. If I were to die or leave my children would be heartbroken and they simply don’t understand the meaning behind the words they are saying; you know why? Because they don’t even understand how they feel.
Somehow in all of this inner emotional turmoil, even though I thought I had been doing a good job hiding it, my preschooler, Kendall, told me this the other day: Mom’s perfect day would be to not ever have to take care of her kids again. We were talking about what the perfect day would look like and the fact that I’ve somehow given her the idea that caring for her is something I don’t like, well, it hurt. How have I gotten to the point where I’m obviously so frustrated by my children that they are under the impression that I’d rather not be around them?
If you ever need a reality check on your attitude listen to how your children perceive you. The truth is that my attitude the last few weeks has been terrible. I’m not happy. I have no patience or time for dinking around. I expect that my kids fall in line and they better do it fast. I roll my eyes. I sigh heavily when asked to get them something. In my head I’m thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m not the only adult around who can get a glass of milk.” My loud sigh tells my child, “It is such a pain and burden to help you.”
I need to focus on joy and joy in parenting. Joy is all about perspective. My pastor said that in church the other day, “Joy is all about perspective.” Perspective. The truth is that this time right now, my most difficult time every year, it’s a season and in comparison to how many days make up a year it’s hardly a blip on the radar. Are the days long and intense when my husband is working and exhausted? Yes. Am I allowed to need a break every now and then? Yes. Should my kids know and understand how frustrated and burdened I feel? No, I don’t think they should. This is not forever; it’s really about eight weeks of my year, every year. It could be worse.
You see, someone always has it worse than you do if you look long and hard. I have been feeling convicted of that truth a lot lately. It doesn’t negate my feelings but it does bring a lot of perspective into my current situation. Perspective fosters joy. I can say at the end of the day, you know what, today wasn’t a good day but we’re one day closer to April 18th and that is cause to celebrate.
I’m taking my joy back.
Do you want to join me? Every day, at the end of the day, I am going to list three joys that I experienced in relation to my children. I want to encourage you to do the same. I feel like sometimes as moms we focus on the negatives rather than seeing the joy that our children and daily tasks can bring to us. You can use this printable I’ve created or write it down on a sheet of paper. The key is that you write it down so you can reference it later.
Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.