My feet were cold and wet, she was taking forever. My patience drained away too fast, I couldn’t hold onto it. I got angry, raised my voice, and immediately regretted it. Her quivering lip and sad eyes made me feel terrible. It wasn’t her fault. She had done nothing wrong. I created this situation, this day, this stress. She was just an innocent bystander caught in my storm.
I buckled her in and apologized. "It OK mommy," she said, "I wuv you. So, so, so much." I fought back tears until I was out of her sight. I didn’t want her to think she had made me sad. Her forgiveness came so easily. I didn’t feel worthy of it. Would it always be like this? Me losing my temper, her quickly soothing me? Or, would the day come when she decided enough was enough. A day when my apologies no longer carried the weight that it currently did.
I wiped away my tears and got in the car. I glanced into the rear view mirror and caught her eye. She smiled one of her huge grins, the kind that lights up her entire face while simultaneously melting my heart. She asked me for music and immediately started singing to herself. She is happy. She loves me so completely. She wasn’t holding a grudge. It never even occurred to her to remain upset by my actions. My angry voice was a thing of the past. I had apologized, she had accepted and she had moved on.
But I hadn’t. I was angry. At myself. For not having the patience that this incredible little girl deserved. For not having the self-control to not lose my cool. Why did I have to get so angry over things that just did not matter? I held a grudge. I held on tightly. Angry at myself and my many faults and failings. The singing in the backseat snapped me out of my loop of loathing.
Once we got home and my feet warmed up, I started to feel a little better. She asked to do my hair. As she brushed and put clips in she chattered away. I pushed any negative thoughts out of my head. When she was done she looked at me and called me beautiful. I fought back tears once more. In her eyes I am flawless. She hopped down and danced and sung for me. She was putting on a "fashion show." At the end I clapped, she bowed. How did I get so lucky?
I need to start living up to the person she thinks I am. I owe her that much. It wasn’t her fault today that I was cold and wet it was mine. I am the adult; I know what it is like when it rains in January. I know that the shoes I was wearing were not practical. I know that she is only 3 years old and deeply in love with puddles. Her fascination with just about everything makes her move slower than I do. I am busy focusing on the next thing on my to-do list while she is in the now. Focused on her surroundings and the beauty in it all. She had nothing to do with the root of my anger, she was busy being herself, being the kind of person I dream of becoming. Yet, she had to hear the anger at myself in my voice. She had to catch the brunt of my frustrations. It is my responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But, it will. As much as it pains me to admit it, it will because I am human. All I can do is try my best to be the person my daughter needs me to be, to be the person she already is. When I act flawed, I will own up to it. I will teach her that no one is perfect, even mommy. I will lead by example and apologize. I will work on bettering myself and never take advantage of her willingness to forgive me. Lost patience will become lessons I need to learn. She will become my role model while I am her’s. Together we will learn and grow.
I will breathe and appreciate what I have. She, and I, deserve that.
Michelle writes from the home she shares with her husband, their three year old daughter and two dogs. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her daughter is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the super villain. Read more of her work on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com or "like" her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JuiceboxConfession. All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com.