Almost everything about our evening went well. We were all able to enjoy a meal together (something I treasure), and after supper, Tyler took the girls outside to jump on the trampoline. The baby and I tidied the kitchen (and I was able to listen to some good soul music). Through the kitchen window, I watched my big girls with their dad on the trampoline, rolling around, giggling with fits of laughter … I stopped for a moment and just watched … savouring the picture perfect moment of children and father connecting and truly enjoying one another … it really was a moment to be treasured.
As they continued their play, moving onto the new walkie talkies now (Madilyn’s birthday present), I started preparing the baby for bed … something I try to savour by tickling and teasing her, connecting with her and strengthening our bond. Once she was dressed, I just sat in her room and watched her … I looked at my baby daughter in awe … I basked in all of her glory … I savoured her beauty (snotty nose and all) … I watched as she practiced her new tricks (sitting up from laying) … I watched her attempt over and over to get something that was just out of reach … I watched her stumble … and get back up again … I saw her in a crawling position trying to figure out how to get going … this is the baby that whose pregnancy poisoned me … this is the baby born 10 weeks early … this is the baby I sat with for hours in the NICU just nine short months ago, a miracle really … this baby is such an incredible gift … all of my children are incredible gifts actually, but over and over again, I fail to see it. I fail to bask in their beauty, their talents, their abilities, their characters, their tendencies … Instead, I get irritated with them over the littlest things … and that’s what happened last night following these picture-perfect moments to treasure …
It was close to bedtime already, and my husband and I both became irritated with our oldest daughter almost immediately upon them coming in from their outside play. She was asked to wash her feet and get ready for bed. She innocently proceeded to the bathtub to wash her feet. Her younger sister elected to wash her feet in the bathroom sink (which we apparently prefer, since it uses much less water and the whole process is much more efficient).
Our irritation with our oldest daughter builds as the water keeps running and running and running … instead of (again) looking at the situation for WHAT IT WAS (I wrote about this not too long ago … check it out here: https://ourlifewelllivedleannehintz.com/2018/05/19/what-it-is/), we immediately feel that she is being wasteful and just stalling because she doesn’t want to go to bed.
So a whole big argument erupts. And she argues, and she doesn’t take responsibility for her perceived mistake (being wasteful and stalling), so we are further angered by such despicable behaviour. When her feet are finally washed, I find myself asking her to put her pajamas on, multiple times. She continues to argue … not even sure about what now, but she is suddenly YELLING in my face. I’ve had enough. And I do the unthinkable … I slap her. And now, I’m yelling, and she’s crying (of course). Through her tears, she tells me she hasn’t got her pajamas on because she can’t find them (we had a housekeeper come in yesterday who placed her pajamas in an unfamiliar spot).
Of course, through all of this ridiculousness, I already told her she would have to go straight to bed without reading. As I brushed her teeth, she says through her tears once again, “I’m sorry, Mommy! I’m sorry I used so much water in the bathtub. I was just trying to get enough water to cover my feet” (we have a BIG bathtub).
And my heart breaks.
I question her, “So you weren’t stalling so you didn’t have to go to bed?” And I realize, she doesn’t even know what I mean. And I realize that in her mind, in order to wash her feet, they needed to be covered with water.
“All I want, Mommy, is to read with Daddy.” But I had already taken that away.
“Mackenzie, do you think you got slapped because of too much water in the bathtub?”
“Honey, I slapped you because you were arguing and talking back and yelling in my face!” I catch myself trying to justify my actions. I know in my heart it’s all BS though (hitting someone is never okay and I certainly wouldn’t want my children doing so) … I slapped her because I was angry. I was mad at my daughter for things that I PERCEIVED she was doing … wasting and stalling. But my daughter was not doing those things … she was simply washing her feet and looking for her missing pajamas.
As I tucked her into her bed, I tried to make it right … I said sorry to my daughter. I told her I was sorry for slapping her. I shouldn’t have done that. Then we chatted about making mistakes (and how even moms and dads mess up a lot too). And I am reminded once again how hard it must be for these little people to hold it all together sometimes … because sometimes, moms can’t even do it.