Today’s a hard parenting day. Both kiddos wake up earlier than usual so I don’t get my quiet morning time. Baby boy starts yelling for food almost immediately (Lord help me when he’s a teenager). Our morning playtime is full of cries and screams and hair-pulls and tantrums because he is destroying something of hers or she tells him no or he gets into her things. You know, the things I have asked her to put away about 7 bajillion times and she didn’t and that’s why he’s getting into them. We manage to have a few moments where he’s occupied so I read with her or go through her favorite dinosaur flashcards, but mostly, it’s pretty chaotic and by snack time, I can’t see one single square inch of the playroom floor.
I like to do the dishes during morning snack time when baby is strapped into his highchair and she’s eating and no little hands will find the sharp knives in the dishwasher. But today, even snack time is annoying. He wants what she has and she has no desire to share. I finish the dishes quickly and decide we need a change of scenery.
We get dressed (at a snail’s pace I might add) with me finally yelling, “SHOES. NOW.” and we scramble into the car. Here, I know you’ll be tempted to tell me I’m a moron. Why would I, in my present frustration and their present crankiness, even dare to go to the grocery store? Well. Your question is valid and about the moron thing, you’d be right.
(Stick with me, I promise this isn’t just some whiney drawn-out version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.)
The grocery store is, of course, out of the “fun” carts, so my 4-year-old has to walk. This usually doesn’t go well. But I grit my teeth and proceed because I am committed now and there’s no other choice. After lots of redirecting and speaking in my very low mommy-means-it voice and near-crashes with strangers, we finally get to the checkout line. And when I’m almost done, I realize that I picked up hearts of palm instead of artichoke hearts. UGH. What even ARE hearts of palm?
Anyway, I check out, dump the groceries in the car, put my daughter in the cart, race to the artichokes and through self checkout and back to the car. HOME FREE, right? Not. We get home and I realize the pesto container that I just bought and that I very much want to use for dinner is cracked open and unusable. I hear more fighting from the playroom. I SNAP. I revoke all technology privileges for the rest of the day. My voice has reached a very un-calm mommy level. I sit baby in his chair and furiously whip around the kitchen to get lunch on the table all while listening to the LOUDEST screeching meltdown in the history of time.
Everyone eats with no complaints. We go play some more while we wait for baby boy’s pre-nap poop (this is a vital thing, people). Sister reads him some stories and plays puzzles with him without being prompted. She pats his head and hugs him and says, “Good job, buddy!”
I put him down for a nap and I’m throwing a load of laundry in the dryer when I hear a real small, quiet voice. “Mommy? Can I have another chance?” My anger melts away and sadness takes its place. I have let my frustration win today.
I take a breath. I ask if she wants to bake something together. She climbs up on a chair to be “tall” like me. She’s careful as she measures sugar and flour and vanilla. She follows my directions and tastes a few chocolate chips. As the blondies bake, we talk. We talk about the choices she made today that weren’t the best, about the strategies she could employ next time, about the reasons why I just couldn’t let her do certain things (like ride on the back of the shopping cart). She says, “Mama, I’m sorry. I’ll do better now.” And I say, “Baby, I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t get so frustrated.” She smiles.
“Thanks Mom,” she says. Then a little quieter, “Can I read on my Kindle?” I remember that I have forbidden screens today, and part of me wants to stick to my guns or she’ll never learn. But a bigger part of me knows this is a perfect time to show her what it means to extend grace. So that’s what I do. I teach her the word grace and what it means. I watch as she turns the word over in her mind and a slow grin dances across her face.
Now, she’s reading and calm and I have time to reflect and readjust. I realize that the things I have gotten mad about today happen because of who she is, because of all the things I really love about her: her assertiveness (it shouldn’t be okay for her brother to destroy her things, he just doesn’t know yet); her organizational skills (getting annoyed when he moves a piece of something she’s set up, I’d feel the same way); her curiosity (wanting to look at and read and touch everything at the store); her live-in-the-moment-not-stressed-about-time demeanor (let’s be honest, I’m a little jealous of this).
I believe that the most important thing parents can do is to care for and cultivate a deep relationship with their child built on mutual respect, communication, and understanding. She was not responsive to my yelling and redirecting, but when I was able to return her apology with an apology of my own, she could really hear my words. Parenting is so hard. And I am far from being an expert. But today, I will take away the fact that love wins in the end and that grace is a powerful thing.
Currently Reading: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This was such a fun read, a murder mystery set in post-war England. The protagonist is Flavia de Luce, a precocious eleven-year-old who is obsessed with all things chemistry and annoying her sisters. I love a strong young female character who is intelligent and baffles all the adults around her. This book is the first in a series about Flavia and I cannot wait to read the rest!
Currently Baking: You didn’t think I’d tell you that whole story without giving you the blonde brownie recipe did you?
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
- Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add slowly to butter/sugar mixture.
- Stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips.
- Spread into greased 9×13 baking pan.
- Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes until the edges are brown.
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.