We had a fun day today. Packing, playing, walking, pond exploration, bike riding, egg gathering, tea party-ing. All day. Until 5 pm. Then the perfect storm hit.
Outside, the wind picked up and dust was blowing everywhere. We had to come back in the house but Ainsley still had a ton of happy energy. So did the puppy. Teeth and skin collided, and a tired 2 1/2 year old burst into tears. To make things simpler, the puppy was sent onto the porch where he promptly decided to try and maul one of the kittens, sending Ainsley into a panicked, screaming tornado who couldn't hear her mother yelling at her to get out from between the puppy and the kitten. Her kitten was in danger and her mother was asking her to leave it to the puppy.
I was so scared that the puppy's heightened excitement would lead to Ains getting bitten and was trying desperately to detach myself from a clinging, crying one-year-old who I didn't want anywhere near that situation so that I could save the kitten - and I was tired, hungry, and frustrated with the ever-constant wind and that my daughter couldn't see that she should immediately obey me because mommy just knows best. I yelled. I yelled loud and I yelled mean - it can't even be written off as an 'I was so scared for you' yell - and I broke my little girl's heart. She doesn't cry often, but when she does, she means it. It's a whole body sob because she just has so much sorrow that her whole body shakes with it. Tired, over-excited, thirsty from our long walk, and scared of a puppy's teeth but willing to risk it for her kitten, and then mommy yells directly at her. This made a good day into a bad day for everyone involved.
When their daddy got home, he took them to the store so that their energy and my energy could disengage a bit and they could calm down. I'd not only terrified Ainsley, I'd scared Gray and Hannah. As they were leaving Hannah turned and said "I know you were cranky and mean, Mother, but I forgive you. Ainsley will too." Good lord.
Matt told me after the shopping trip that they worked it through with him, talking about it, and what they remembered was that "Mommy had a bad day. She got angry and it was a bad day." It was one hour. ONE HOUR in an otherwise beautiful day. But they remember it as the whole day.
And this is why four out of the twenty books I kept for our temporary moving bookshelf are parenting books.
I'm not one to post in detail about hard days, but this wasn't a hard day. This turned into a Bad Day. One of those days different from the times when patience is thin, tempers flare, and family members have to remind each other to 'be peace'. One of those days when you look in your child's tear-filled eyes and think "I suck." I've only had a day *this* bad one other time since I began parenting, but this time was worse. Then it only affected my one child but today it affected all three of my children. I do indeed suck, if only for tonight.
Everyone's asleep but me. Matt played with Ains while I cuddled Hannah to sleep and then he went to bed while I nursed Ains. She woke up as I laid her in bed, took my cheeks in her hands, kissed me, and then went unconscious again. I think Hannah was right and she forgave me. I hope that she has forgiven me. I'm sitting here going over what happened, what triggered that reaction in me, how to handle myself and the situation better next time and reassuring myself that I am not my mother. But it's cold comfort to say "At least I didn't hit her" when she remembers the violent voice and demeanor.
I'm reading portions of Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves. I'm crying over the damage I did to my child and the damage that was done to me as a child. And then I'm going to bed and we're going to wake up tomorrow and start over. I'm going to take what I learned today and that will make it less likely to have such harshness occur again. I'm going to forgive my parents a little bit more and I'm going to try to forgive myself.
Tomorrow it will be back to happier posting - maybe even the fun stuff we did today - but tonight this is my reality.