I blew it again today. Just blew it out of the water. After a day in Columbus that landed me home after 8 pm, I was ready for what any working woman wants – NO MORE STRESS. And in many cases, I got exactly what I wanted.
Bella and Mike greeted me with a hug and I enjoyed what was left of the dinner my family finished an hour earlier (no cooking – yeah!). I wanted nothing more than to retire to my temporary basement apartment with my leftovers and a glass of wine – to snuggle with my husband and my kid.
I entered the room to witness in-progress an intense game of Connect 4, where Mike was encouraging Bella to “play fair” (i.e. Not cheat). She was so offended at his accusation she released the board valve mid-game. Countless red and yellow chips came crashing down with an irritating clankety-clank.
Her anger faded to despair, and she immediately burst into tears – inconsolable at her inability to land the “win.” It seemed funny and a little cute at first – but this epic drama lasted a full hour before I finally gave up and left her to cry herself to sleep in her bed. No amount of prayer, comforting or discipline could reach my child. She passed that point of no return other parents talk about – a rare moment for my Bella.
I sulked back down to the basement feeling quite sorry for myself. I lamented to Mike, “All I wanted today was to come home and spend time with her. That’s ALL I wanted.” Once again, in my self-absorbed, controlling nature, I made the entire thing about ME. I missed an opportunity to let her just be herself – to cry if she felt like it, because pain is real.
Losing is hard, even when it’s Connect 4. And when you’re feeling the pain of loss, you need – and deserve – a moment to name the pain and process it. I need this level of patience for myself – how can I expect so much more of my sensitive, sweet little 5-year-old?
Parenting is hard. I’m not a terrible mom, but I’m not perfect, either. I have moments, like today, where I have an opportunity to love purely for the sake of love, and offer appropriate challenge for the sake of growth. Instead, I shut down and turned inward. I gave up. I blew it.
I have clarity around the situation now, which is a small victory. Lessons learned in the moment can change life’s trajectory. After a hot bath and a moment to think, I sheepishly crawled back upstairs to Bella’s room and captured this sweet shot of her – sound asleep, without a care in the world.
I release her from the pressure of being perfect. I pray that someday she can do the same for me.
At the end of the day, I am so thankful for our perfectly imperfect little life.