Last night, as my daughter was brushing her teeth, she came out of the bathroom to ask me what happened to that nice Momma in the picture frame–the picture of me on the beach on Santa Catalina Island–moments after my husband proposed to me. I ask her what she means? She clarifies. “That Momma looks nice, but this Momma,” she motions toward me “yells all the time. Why didn’t that Momma yell?”
(In my defense, the only time I even slightly raise my voice is when I’ve already asked my children to brush their teeth three times and they are still dinking around on the computer. Or when I’ve asked them to find their shoes 47 times and am literally on my way out the door. That’s when I raise my voice. It’s not as if she’s dealing with a screaming banshee on a daily basis.)
My gut response is to look at the photo of that happy, younger, tanner version of myself and think–that Momma didn’t yell because she didn’t have anyone ignoring her every word. Or whining about brushing their teeth. Or refusing to wear their boots on a rainy day. But instead, I bite my tongue and think about it for a second. And my heart breaks a little for this sweet little girl whose mother is a basket case.
And I realize that my kids are not the reason I raise my voice. I raise my voice when I’m exhausted from being spread too thin between my work and my real life. I raise my voice when I’m running late because I planned my time poorly. I raise my voice when we can’t find any socks because the laundry hasn’t been done recently. I raise my voice when my mind is preoccupied thinking about ailing family members. And I raise my voice when the grown-up stresses of life take their toll on my psyche. None of those are good reasons.
Especially to a four-year old.
I’m not saying that the simple solution here is a week on a beach in the SoCal sun with a Piña Colada in my hand … I’m just saying that it might be a good start.
Oh, and also finding joy in everything that I do. That was my goal for February. I think I’m on the right path. But apparently, it’s still a work in progress.