Today, I yelled at my son. I mean really yelled. The baby was crying, my patience was long gone, dinner was beeping in the oven, and my son wasn't listening. He was trying to run through the house in my shoes, and I knew he was going to fall at any minute. Right now is not the time to go to the emergency room, so I yelled at him to stop. I needed to get his attention. I wanted him to see that I was serious. His giggling head immediately snapped up. His eyes welled with tears, his mouth started to get wide, and he wailed, "DON'T YELL AT ME, MAMA."
I froze. I didn't really know what to do. I'd gotten his attention, but I'd broken his heart. I was finally able to block the chaos of everything going on from my mind, and all that was left was my precious 2-year-old baby boy with his arms by his sides and head tossed back, crying. "Oh kiddo, come here," was all I could think to say. His little body was shaking, and between the tiny sobs, he choked out, "Mama, can I have a hug?"
The mom guilt rammed me in the chest like a 100 MPH dump truck. Of course, my little boy can have a hug. At that moment, he could've asked for anything in the whole wide world and I would've done my best to give it to him. I had made him feel so small by yelling at him when my own irritation boiled over.
He's 2. I am not. I am much older than 2. I know better, and he deserves to know that. I got on his level and told him I was sorry. "Mama yells sometimes. I know I shouldn't. I'm so sorry, bud. I will do better." He was the epitome of the grace I hope to display when he replied, "It's OK, Mama." What was left of my heart was obliterated into even tinier pieces.
By dinnertime most days, my patience is long gone, but I realized I must find a way to piece some of it together so I don't squash the souls of my young children in the wake of my frustration. I am not always right, and I don't always do the right thing. Most of the time I like to think I am, but in hindsight, I often realize I'm not.
But I don't want my children to grow up in fear of me. I want them to grow up and trust me. I want them to see that when I do wrong by them, I apologize and then try to make it right. I want them to see me use "I'm sorry" and mean it. I want them to understand that pride can be fiery, and instead of fanning the flames, you need to extinguish it. Today, I yelled at my son. It was wrong. I was sorry, and I told him that.
When he's grown, I hope he can look back and say that his mama always tried her best. I hope my boy will say Mama was always the first to say sorry. I want him to be able to grow up and tell people that his mama wasn't always right, but she always tried to do right by him. I have a long way to go, but that won't stop me from trying.