I am becoming more and more convinced that how well you are doing in your parenting role comes down to how you handle the bad days. The good days are easy, right? When things are going swimmingly, the babes are listening and responding and you had a shower PLUS you feel like a rock star in your body and clothes. Those days you are happy to give up whatever life you had before children. Whatever leisure activities, whatever body size and weight, whatever job or school or travel, nights of sex on the couch and breakfast in bed. You don't think about wanting those things back because today was so good. You are a good mom, have no doubts about your parenting philosophy, discipline choices or worldview. You are confident you are teaching and modeling for your children what you believe is important about life and God and humankind. You are hitting on all cylinders and it feels good.
But those bad days. The ones like I had last week where if someone who looked only marginally more put together than the dealer that lives on our block came to the door and asked if they could take my kids on a week long vacation to Puerto Rico I would have started packing bags. I stopped myself from saying out loud the thoughts going through my head- things like "Do you realize how much I gave up to be your Mama?"
Days where you can't even think about whether your parenting philosophy is working because you have poop on your shirt and can't find a wet wipe to save your life because one child is running around naked with the rest of the poop still on his bum and the other child is laughing hysterically while she flushes the wet wipes you can't find down the toilet. On these days you don't stop to evaluate whether the good advice you read in all those parenting books was good or whether you maybe should have gone with Baby Whisperer rather than Happiest Baby on the Block? You try not to cry thinking about how terrible you know it is to discipline out of anger while you add up the number of time outs and angry responses you gave your two year old who was busy all day pushing boundaries and ignoring your requests and commands. No, on the bad days you just hold on and wait for bedtime.
But those are the days you really learn where your heart is as a parent. When you are exhausted and sleep deprived and tired of living on goldfish and coffee. When your self confidence is in the toilet and you are out of patience and you want 5 minutes to yourself more than you want a snuggle from your babes. The times you have nothing left to give and feel inadequate in every way. Those are the days when the truest secrets of your heart come out and the only person who you need to prove anything to is yourself.
And when you bite your tongue and swallow harsh words on THoSE days, you are a kind parent. When you hug instead of yell on THoSE days, you are a loving parent. When you let little things go and remember the big picture on THoSE days, you are a wise parent. The bad days are the true measure of your ability as a parent, I am convinced of it. Because you don't have any bullshit to hide behind. It's just you and your raw, stressed out heart. And like me, who failed in every way as a parent on my bad day, the fact that I hugged both Pursy and Knox before bed and said I was so sorry and asked forgiveness, on THAT day, I actually was a good parent. Even just for a moment.