Saturday, January 11, 2014

My biggest weakness as a mom

I'm a pretty realistic and self-aware person, so I think it goes without saying that I am under no delusions when it comes to being a mom. I am well aware that I'm not perfect. I have many areas that I am continually working to improve upon, but it seems that my biggest weakness in life--impatience--is always bleeding over into my role as a parent and putting me in my place.

Yesterday afternoon around 3:00pm, Kimmy was down for a nap. Jarrell had just dozed off, so I thought I would also try to take a nap. It had been a long week, and I was exhausted.

No sooner had I drifted off than I was awakened by Kimmy fussing and crying in her room. I assumed the usual--that she was either fussy from having 3 molars coming in at once or that she had thrown all her stuffed animals out of the crib and wanted them back.

I half-thought about letting her be for 10 minutes or so to see if she would settle back down, but then the tiny voice of patience and reason in my head told me to get my sleepy self up and check on her. 2 minutes later, I got up to go see.

When I got to her crib, I saw vomit all over her sheet, her blanket, and her shirt.

Instant guilt.

I totally took for granted that she rarely cries, and when she does, she genuinely needs assistance or attention the majority of the time. In my sleepy haze, I almost ignored her needs. Guilt doesn't get much heavier than that for me, especially since she very rarely pukes and is terrified of the process.

She seems to think she is going to be in trouble for vomiting. As soon as she makes eye contact after throwing up, she starts sobbing and puts her head down in shame. I honestly don't know how she came up with that behavior. I puked so much in my childhood that I have an extreme amount of empathy for the situation and would never dream of shaming her for it.

So, I got her sheets, diaper, and clothes changed. I comforted her. I started on her laundry. She eventually cheered up, even though she remained nauseous and pukey the rest of the evening, poor thing.

The moral of the story: my impatience for Kimmy's crying and waking me up almost cost me a crucial opportunity to fulfill my daughter's need for comfort. If I didn't make a constant effort to be patient with her, it could seriously hurt the trust she has built in me.

She is still very little, and so much is still brand new to her. It's my job as her mommy to hang back and let her experience the world at her pace because that's the only way she can build her own understanding of things. If I never let her fall and rush through life taking the reins for her, she won't have the chance to make the mental connections that are so important in the toddler years.

I wish I knew the source for this, but I want to share a poem that always helps ground me when I'm having a hard time achieving the above:

Give me patience when little hands
Tug at me with ceaseless, small demands.
Give me gentle words and smiling eyes
To keep my lips from hasty, sharp replies.
Let not fatigue, confusion, or noise
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys,
So when in years to come, my house is still,
Beautiful memories its rooms may fill.

More later.