The tears are rolling now. The big, fat mama sized tears. The tears made heavy by fatigue and stress and a profound disappointment in myself.
I sit here in a quiet house after twelve plus hours of parenting three little ones while my husband works late, and at this moment, the joys and the tiny victories of the day have faded from memory, and all I can feel is the regret of moments lost. Moments lost to rush and fatigue and frustration.
These days are full. There are swim lessons and back to school shopping and library reading programs. There are dinners and lunches and breakfasts. Most uneaten. Some gagged at. Plenty left in a clump on the floor waiting for my mop and broom.
And there are promises broken. White lies told. Words unheeded. There are temper tantrums and whines and arguments. These are the things of childhood, and as such, they are the things of parenting.
And I try to take them in stride. I try to respond with patience. I pray to see them through merciful eyes. I remember that harsh words or frustrated tones can leave marks on little souls.
But sometimes, my imperfections get the better of me. I snip. I lecture. And sometimes I yell.
My lecture today was needed. Some things need to change. Some behaviors need to be adjusted. Not dealing with it would have been neglecting my parental responsibilities.
But it doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it easier to see my eldest’s tears, the tears that come whenever I am anything but ecstatic with her. It doesn’t make it easier to see my four year old’s serious face, the one she only uses when she knows she has misbehaved.
They know their behavior disappointed me. And I’m glad they care. They need to care. But I hate that my eldest is in bed sad.
As humans, we need to know guilt when we hurt another or neglect our responsibilities. Kept in check, it is a healthy emotion. But it still hurts to know they feel it. It really does hurt us more than them.
And now I’m sitting here, shaken by my evening, wondering how I’m going to get up and do it all over again tomorrow morning.
But deep down I know the answer.
I will do it all over again because the thing that is stronger than the frustration and sadness and anger and remorse is the love. It’s the love that always brings us back to try better tomorrow.
Love is what can turn the word “tomorrow” from dread to hope.
It’s the only thing that makes sense out of it all. Even when it’s all a big mess of frustration.