I write this as I rock my toddler to sleep. It’s been a very long, rainy, dark and lonely Monday. The day went smooth, without any tantrums or messes. But it’s the bedtime routine that’s tricky when you have a toddler and a baby, and you’re by yourself (daddy will be home late tonight). It can get ugly.
Tonight Zaky was very very excited after supper and decided it would be fun to run into my bedroom and keep slamming the door shut everytime I tried to get in. And once I did get in, he dashed into the master bathroom and closed the door – with him inside. It was only a matter of one second but that’s usually all it takes for accidents to happen, right? Don’t worry, nothing happened except I opened the door and snapped at him with that scary mom face I’ve mastered. Outburst #1.
Bath time had to start and finish before the baby got fussy in the bouncer. It was going well until Zaky decided he didn’t want the towel around him. Meanwhile Zara started to fuss, my patience wore off and I lost my temper. Outburst #2 and a crying baby.
We’re all finally in the nursery ready to call it a night. Baby successfully falls asleep and toddler seems cooperative too. Until the tossing and turning. When I remind him sternly (ok it was more than stern) that it’s “dodo time”: outburst #3. ‘Holy bananas please don’t wake Zara you little rascal!’ is truthfully what I’m thinking, until he gives me his momma’s boy pout with the arms-open-wide plea to be held. And within moments of rocking in my arms, he’s out like a light.
At this point you might be wondering if I’m counting my outbursts or his. I’m not even sure myself! Frankly, I can get consumed with desperation at the end of the day. I just need them to sleep so that I can “start” my day! That quiet, grown-up time is so precious.
Many mothers would agree that once they are peacefully sleeping, you sometimes want to wake them up with your kisses because they’re so darn cute. I have those feelings most on nights like tonight when I feel bad for losing my temper with my spirited boy. I feel regret when I reflect on my actions as a parent in the last hour. I could have handled his misbehaviour differently. I feel guilty for making him cry, when I know that he was just acting like a tired almost-2 year old. I know I’m flawed but there is a bright side.
One of the first lessons my son taught me was forgiveness. The purity of a child’s heart is overwhelmingly beautiful. I learned this on a night when my husband was in Vancouver and I was alone with Zaky and pregnant with Zara. I was shocked at my impatience and went to sleep convinced that my son will hate me in the morning. But he didn’t. He was so happy to see me and wanted to play and cuddle. I learned then that yes, he loves me. He accepts me. It’s unconditional. It’s pure. I learned that forgiveness doesn’t have to be a choice, it could be instinctive. We all make mistakes, even parents. Forgiveness is not an excuse to make deliberate mistakes! But forgiveness liberates. On a small scale, it makes you happy. On a larger scale, it can give you a new beginning. With the same purity that our children innately forgive, maybe parents should forgive themselves too.