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Sunday, October 3, 2010

my little man and lessons in being a better mommy

My four year old is really a lovely child. He is smart. He is funny. I love him fiercely. I mean really truly fiercely. I have this strange urge to snatch him up and smother him in kisses randomly sometimes. It’s a fierceness that I think is especially reserved for your first child. He made me a mother. We are learning this path of parenting together. He really is a gem.

But, Lord in heaven, he can be a terror.

He can be grumpy.

He can be moody.

He can be demanding.

But so can I - which is the problem.

He is his mother’s child. Melancholy. Sensitive. Passionate. With his dada’s flair for the dramatic. He reads my moods and mirrors them like a little monkey.

I think for this reason I find his less than stellar moments so incredibly…maddening. I look at his grumpy little face, throwing puzzle pieces at me because he is mad his drill isn’t a REAL DRILL and I see myself. I see all my impatience. I see all my anxiety. I see my yearning for perfection. And it makes me overwhelmed, mad, and so very annoyed.

I want him to be carefree. To live life pleasantly. To play with his sister. To draw charming pictures of rainbows and flowers. To value putting away toys as much as he does getting them out.

Instead he is a pendulum of emotion. He laughs uproariously and 30 seconds later is throwing all of the dress up clothes across the room, angry that he can’t find his cape. He is anxious when his day is up in the air (will it rain or can we go to the park with a friend??) He throws his crayons down in disgust when his portrait of Ironman isn’t perfect. He is grumpy when he doesn’t sleep well, which is often. He feeds off of other people’s energy – good and bad.

He is me in miniature.

But I am the adult. The mom. I need to model calm. I need to show him how great this pendulum passionate personality is. I need to show him how to control it. And better yet, how to use it to impact the world for good.

Isn’t this the hardest parenting task? Not to just demand behavior but to MODEL it??

I need to foster this mindset in my day to day.

I feel all the more inspired after reading this blog. Full of such words of patient wisdom!

This quote just blew me away:
“Work to cultivate yourself as a light for your family.”

Work on yourself.

Huh? This is about my kid, not about me. Right?

Is your kid (mine) edgy? Crabby? Restless? Bored? Anxious? Stressed? Chances are you (me) are too.

Stop measuring out the success of a day by how your child acted, instead she writes, “start measuring your day by how YOU acted that day.”

Wow. Kind of hits home huh?

We expect our child to wake up smiling at the world but, did you welcome the day with peace and joy?

But really think about it.

Did you truly embrace your day and all its tasks? (last nights dishes for you, picking up clothes strewn on the floor in search of superman t-shirt for him) Were you composed and even-tempered when things went awry? (no park due to rain – a hard thing for both of you) Did you respond to people around you in love and kindness? (snippy phone call from a doctors office for you, sister taking away prized toy car for him) Did you tackle those less than fun tasks with enthusiasm? (laundry for you, cleaning his room for your child)

Argh. So friggin’ guilty.

Definitely the hardest parenting challenge to date. Modeling the behavior – the joy, peace, and kindness – we want to see in our children.

It has to start by cultivating that sense of content in yourself. Taking care of yourself is part of that. Loving on yourself. But also working toward that goal of being a light to people around you. Joy. Laughter. Peace. Warmth. These are things I want to see in my child. These are things I want people to see in me. Motherhood is an ultimate gift in this way. We are privileged to share with them our best version of ourselves.

As this author says in another post “I am a woman of worth for my children and my family. “

They need us to be who we are. Learning, growing humans. With our weaknesses and strengths. Modeling for them that journey as we strive to become our best selves.

And then, we get to experience the true joy of watching that love and warmth radiate from our hearts and homes into our child’s face and life. Watching them take that nurture and turn it into their own blossoming sense of self.

True parenting success.

And in the end. I would take the rages and the thrown crayons and the stomping rather than forced compliance and a crippled self that has been pushed into this box of “good” behavior. Some things in life are in fact worth raging and stomping over. It’s all about channeling that passion. Using it to improve the world… rather than destroy your bedroom or hit your sister. (Therein lies the key, right? HA.)

More links from this AMAZING blog:
Here is a great post on gentle discipline tools:

here is a great one on raising peaceful children:

Another good one, talking about being a model for your child:

Another one, the first one I clicked on – can you tell the day I have had??:

her ideas of childhood:

on kindness in the home:

ok, they are all great. Just go read her blog.


  1. Thank you! I read it out to DH who had a hard day with Charlie. He smiled and nodded in agreement. I will also re read this when I am snippy or anxious and Charlie is mirroring my mood :c)

    Katie. (snugglie)

  2. Thank you for posting this Sara!! Ella and I are in the same situation and I think I really needed to read this. THANK YOU!


  3. Again, Thank you. I need this reminder some times. In fact, just about every time we get up before 6 am there are mirroring problems. Sometimes I think my hormones are out of control when we are both in a bad mood. Occasionally I congratulate myself for staying in a better mood than my son is despite difficulties. I'm working on it! Well said!

  4. Chana - thanks for reading! its so hard some days, isnt it? 6am? whew. that is tough. well, here is to a better one tomorrow, for both of us! (and i hope you are napping with your son some days!!!)
    katie and maureen - its a rough age i think, yes? glad its not just me anyhow! :) read through that blog i linked to. i am going to write a post about a parenting toolbox soon based on some of her posts...such great stuff! hugs to you both!


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