I was tucking my three year old son into bed after a long, tiring and very trying day. The kind of day that leaves you not sure whether you should laugh or cry, so instead you just get a giant bowl of ice cream and sit in front of Netflix binge watching Gilmore Girls. And you can do that without anyone fussing at you because OF COURSE your husband was at the fire station on duty that day, so you were going at it alone.
Throughout that particular day, said three year old had managed to empty a brand new two pound bag of shredded cheese all over the laundry room floor (and into one of the laundry hampers) after sneaking it out of the fridge. It wasn’t even the cheap cheese. It was SARGENTO. Guys. That cheese is expensive. Never mind that I got it on sale for two dollars. It’s the principal of the matter. SARGENTO.
Oh. And did I mention that was the third time that day he had managed to get into a “(s)nack” as he calls it, after being told numerous times, “NO. You cannot have (insert requested snack here) right now”?
That’s not all, folks. The same day he also took off his poopy diaper and somehow managed to spread it all over the hardwood floors in THREE different rooms after (SURPRISE!) being told to NOT take it off, but to go bring me a diaper and wipes. And yes, you read that right: my (newly) three year old son is not yet potty trained. Judge me. Potty training and I aren’t BFFs. But that’s a topic for another day.
It’s worth mentioning that this all happened the day before one of his big brothers turned six, so we had a large package full of wrapped gifts from their great grandma hiding out in my bedroom. Guess what I told him? No, you cannot go into my room and open those presents. Guess what he did? If you guessed WENT INTO MY ROOM AND OPENED THE PRESENTS, you’re today’s lucky winner.
Some of you are probably thinking, “Geeze, doesn’t she keep an eye on her kids? If she was watching him…” And that tells me a few things about you. You’re either a) So far removed from parenting you’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a toddler (especially boys), b) have no kids, or c) your kid doesn’t yet move and therefore is unable to get into things. For everyone in category C, just wait. Your time will come. *bwah ha ha ha ha*
Now don’t get me wrong. He isn’t always quite this crazy. My house doesn’t usually look like an F-5 powered through, surprisingly. Well, my bedroom probably does, but that’s all my own doing. (Sorry, babe.) But that day was just, as we say, “one of those days”. Lots of prayer and (ashamedly) even more coffee got me through it.
*End rabbit trail* So there I was tucking him in, squeezed next to him in a tiny toddler bed. He had his head pressed into my face, bubblegum toothpaste breath and all. I had just finished singing “You Are My Sunshine” while he pet my hair, and when I was finished he said sweetly, “Mommy, today I didn’t like you. I love you.” And then he kissed my face.
“Today I didn’t like you.” Wow. What an eye opener. Here I was at the end of this horrible day, ready to ditch my kid in his bed and run, and I suddenly realized that maybe I wasn’t the only one who had a bad day. He had a hard day, too. And whereas I felt guilty about my feelings, he owned his. OWNED THEM. “Today I didn’t like you.” I have long since thought that veteran moms are doing new moms a huge disservice by not telling them that sometimes, YOU WON’T LIKE YOUR KID. You will always love them. But you aren’t always going to like their behavior. You aren’t going to enjoy some of the stages they go through. You aren’t going to love some aspects of their personalities (which, if we’re being honest, are probably character flaws they picked up from us). And because sometimes kids are jerks, just like adults. “You can’t call a kid a jerk!” Have you ever been around a kid? I can call a kid a jerk. Because sometimes they are. We all have bad days. We’re sinners. It’s gonna happen. But I think it’s important to recognize that our bad days that are brought on BY our kids are also LIVED by our kids. They go through the same struggles, and yet somehow, through the kind of grace we all hope to have, can still say “I love you” even when they didn’t like us today.
Learn from them. Hug them. And take the time to sing them a song when you tuck them in, even if you didn’t like them today.