Photo by iandet
Written by Steady Mom contributor Megan of SortaCrunchy
I stood at the sink drying dishes with my three-year-old chattering away at my side. She was telling (and re-telling) a joke that she had just learned and considered to be quite hilarious. With each delivery of the punchline, I humored her with a courtesy laugh.
Suddenly she frowned, and hands-on-hips demanded, "No, mama! Do your REAL laugh!"
Oh, yes. I was busted. She saw straight through my counterfeit laugh and called me out on it. Perhaps you can relate?
When I was teaching high school, one of the most exhausting aspects of my job was the fact that from the time I drove into the parking lot in the morning until I left campus late in the afternoon, I was "on" all day.
Whether I was lecturing from the podium, helping a student one-on-one, talking with colleagues, or meeting with parents, I had to be The Teacher. It was such a feeling of relief when I was able to slip back into Megan mode at the end of each school day.
The exhaustion I felt while teaching was nothing, of course, compared to the exhaustion of parenting. Talk about being "on" all day - and night, too! For those of us who have purposed to be mindful, intentional, actively engaged parents, it is inevitable that there will be moments when we don't rise to our own expectations.
We will fake laugh.
We will lose our tempers.
We will be cranky and cross.
We will say and do things we regret.
Photo by Alex E Proimos
I can hold it together pretty well when others are watching. I can speak quietly with compassion and empathy to my child who is melting down in the grocery store. I can stay calm and carry on when my child is falling apart at the end of a playdate. I can employ an entire arsenal of tricks to distract an unruly child at a restaurant.
But what about those moments when we are at home and I'm tired and stressed and having a little meltdown of my own?
For me, this is one of the most terrifying aspects of mothering: my children seeing me at my most weak, most real moments, and the thought that what they see might have a more profound impact on them than when I am at my best.
And yet, I am able to temper that terrifying thought with the fact that no one in my life is more quick to forgive my shortcomings than my children. When I've gotten crossways with my husband or sister, it sometimes takes time (and lots of it!) for us to patch things up.
But when I go to my children to apologize for a harsh word or an unloving look and ask them for forgiveness, without fail the first words from their mouths are "I forgive you, Mommy."
When we write and read and talk about parenting, so often the emphasis is on how we can love them through their stormy phases, but how often do we stop to consider how incredibly and amazingly well they love us through our own unhappy moments?
Nothing in all of my life has made me feel more vulnerable than taking up the profession of mothering. The love we have for our children is tender and fierce beyond words. But isn't it so staggeringly amazing to know that when our true selves are on display - however lovely or ugly that picture might be - we are so unconditionally loved by them?
Today, I just want to encourage you to take notice of the way your children love you. Receive and honor the way they accept you holistically - good and bad.
It's one more way we can remember that though we are daily teaching them, our children have much to teach us about authentic, resilient love.
Have you ever had a moment when you were at your worst and your child showed you compassion?
Megan spends her days with her two daughters and husband seeking the steady amidst the endless activity. She blogs at SortaCrunchy, where she leads a community of like-minded people in discussion and dialogue at the intersection of faith and a life more natural.