Recently, Mark got on me about being too quick to anger with our kids. And I had been; totally. Things had been stressful, I wasn't eating well (as clearly evidenced when Lily had to tell me to eat the other day when I was considerably more cranky than I should have been), I'd been sick, was having trouble sleeping... I was not being an awesome parent. At all. Still, I felt a wee bit of redemption when the following occurred:
Dropping off the kids at Grandma's house, Lily marched up to my mom and with a look of glee on her face announced, "This morning Anya asked for a banana and so Daddy got her one and she took one bite and then said, 'I want cereal! I want cheese! I want yogurt! I want bread! I want milk!' and Daddy yelled, 'JUST EAT YOUR FREAKING BANANA!'" Then she grinned at Grandma like it was the best thing that ever happened to her.
My mom's reply was ever so kind with, "Sounds like things were stressful at your house this morning."
Indeed.But it does make me laugh that in the few hours he gets to spend with them each day they can drive him to yell and yet I'm the one who gets called on it after days and days of just this craziness. I'm not saying he's wrong; I need him to call me on it when I'm getting so frustrated with the rest of the world that I let the kids get me to the crazy place. But when I told this same story to a very dear friend of mine she replied, "Sometimes we call others on the things we are most ashamed of about ourselves."
And so we try to do better. We try to remember that a child's work is to push and push and push until the boundaries are so clearly defined, they won't step over them in the wide world without understanding there could be consequences. We try to remember that it is not so easy being three or five or even thirty-three or forty. We try to remember that each day is a chance to start over, clear the slate and not allow yesterdays frustrations to make today so much harder to handle. We try to remember to count to ten and speak calmly, especially when we don't want to. We try to remember that the most powerful people in the world have achieved the unthinkable by simply sitting down and being quiet.
Not that it's easy. I know. Trust me, I know.
But I'm starting to think that this is my life's work: learning to sit down and shut up when all I want to do is rage like an idiot. If only I didn't feel like I had such a long way to go.
What's your life work?