When we are children, each injury, loss, and mishap can feel like a tragedy. As we grow and learn what is truly an emergency or tragic event, we refine our responses appropriately. We learn how to “keep calm and carry on”. Yet somehow, parenthood can unhinge the box in which we file these experiences and emotions, allowing space for them to come spilling out…which is what happens when a parent is at the end of their tether and things have simply piled up.
We had a lovely morning; we got to the park nice and early so Big Brother had free reign over the whole place and the heat was not yet oppressive, we got some errands done and came home to read books and enjoy some lunch while Little Brother napped. We made some special treats for Big Brother to bring and enjoy on his upcoming camping trip with Babci and Pepere (my parents celebrate their respective Polish and French heritage with cultural names instead of “grandma and grandpa”), Aunt V and her boyfriend. It was the afternoon that got me.
We had just gotten the mail and I was trying to nurse Little Brother and read a letter from a dear friend, but he wouldn’t settle and I kept having to change positions. While we were doing this, Big Brother took a fall in the living room. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the carpet where he caught himself had some hidden exposed tack ends, and he cut his palm. I brought my sobbing boy to the bathroom to clean him up, the letter discarded at the foot of my bed in my haste to reach him. While I was applying Lavender to his hand and having him smell it to help him calm down, I heard Little Brother grabbing my letter. The bathroom is en suite to the master bedroom, so I was not far, but by the time I got there, he had it firmly in his fists and was shoving it into his mouth. Alarmed by the thought of him either ingesting the inky paper or accidentally cutting himself on the edge, I pried it from him with a cry of anguish – it was already wet in a few spots and slightly torn. I set him down again, this time with just a toy to grab, and finished bandaging the still-crying Big Brother. Of course, Little Brother began to cry when I was out of his line of sight, and when we both went to the bed to sit with him, I noticed he had soiled his diaper. Somehow this small thing, a simple poopy diaper, was enough at that point to set me off after the 10 minutes of crying I had been enduring. Growling in frustration, I changed his diaper and snapped that I still needed to make dinner, which startled him into crying again. I sighed, apologized to them both, and wore the baby while I prepped dinner. He fell asleep, his sweet head resting on my chest while I gathered ingredients.
We all have moments when we feel like we’ve failed at parenting. They are usually set up by a series of small tragedies, which to anyone else’s eyes look like simple bumps in the day’s path. The important part is remembering to forgive ourselves when we feel like failures, and to invite grace back into our hearts. I’m now diffusing Surrender* while I pray for God to be with me and lend me strength during those moments. I know I need to be the best example I can be for the boys so they can learn how to handle their own big feelings, but it can be difficult. I still feel like a work in progress, myself.
*Surrender is a Young Living blend containing Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), angelica (Angelica archangelica), mountain savory (Satureja montana), lemon (Citrus limon), and spruce (Picea mariana).