Have Courage & Be Kind
Over the past few days, Dylan has been getting his eye-teeth. He’s in so much pain and I feel so bad for him. One of the perks however has been lots of cuddles and watching movies. This has been a blessing in disguise as Justin and I are both recuperating from Gastroenteritis. Last Saturday we were supposed to go on a date to celebrate our fourth anniversary with childcare courtesy of the grandparents… ahh such bliss. Instead we spent it in the hospital as I was severely dehydrated and required IV’s and medication. Sometimes you just have to laugh and roll with it! Thankfully Baby Erb was unscathed.
One of the movies we did see this week- besides Despicable Me 1 & 2 a bazillion times, was Disney’s recent remake of Cinderella. I was surprised at how much I loved this movie. It was lovely. A reoccurring quote was Cinderella’s life motto as taught to her by her parents, “Have courage and be kind.”
Increasingly I have become self-aware of my own kindness and sometimes shortcoming in this area especially when it comes to parenting.
For example, last week was beautiful and unseasonably warm. On one particular day, I noticed Dylan had lost his last pacifier. To get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air, I loaded up the stroller and we set out to our local Walmart to buy a new one. Being in my third trimester, this is a tall order as I am always exhausted- not to mention my bladder has kicked up a notch!
Once we were home, I gave Dylan his soother in hopes he would soon settle down for a nap and I went to get a bottle as he toddled behind me. In a matter of minutes I noticed that I couldn’t find his new soother anywhere- hours later, I discovered it hidden behind the salad dressings in the fridge! I now had a cranky toddler who needed a nap- and wouldn’t do so without a pacifier. In my futile search for his soother I began to get frustrated. Didn’t Dylan know how tired I was to begin with and now he hadn't lost one, but TWO pacifiers in one day?! By this point he could sense my resentment and sought comfort. I’m ashamed to say my response was to ignore him and then angrily snap. “Mommy will hold you AFTER I find the suckie!” Now my sweet boy burst into full fledge tears and was pulling frantically at my jeans so I would hold him. I looked at his cherub cheeks and immediately was silenced. He looked so hurt, so confused and if I could express his feelings in words I knew he would say, "Why don’t you like me Mommy? What did I do wrong?"
Now with tears in my eyes, I knew what I needed to do. He may only be 20 months old, but I owed him an apology. Mommy is sorry. I love cuddling you. Mommy loves you more than anything and likes you too.
This incident was a real wakeup call for me. My desire is to be a kind mother (as well as wife, daughter, sister and friend too). As I’ve reflected on this, I’ve organized some thoughts on the subject.
I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS
This isn’t ground breaking, but how easy is it to excuse our actions? In the past I have blamed a difficult pregnancy, my toddler's sleep regression, a comment someone made... etc, as justification to be unkind. There are no excuses.
SELF-AWARENESS IS KEY
Going off my last point, while I recognize that fatigue or illnesses are no excuse to react poorly to situations, they still do affect me. I'm human. However; instead of repressing my challenges, I acknowledge them so I can deal with them before get they best of me. This is where self-care comes in and it is crucial.
KIND PARENTS HAVE CALMER HOUSEHOLDS (AND KIDS)
I have made a conscious effort not to raise my voice as easily and already I see results in Dylan. He listens better and is calmer.
TIPS FOR KINDLY CORRECTING TODDLERS:
Take a deep breath to curb any frustration
Kneel down to their eye level
Gently holding their hands to get their attention
In a calm voice say a simple, concise command
Provide distraction (an approved activity)
Repeat if necessary (it often is I'm afraid)!
KINDNESS IS DEMONSTRATED- NOT COMMANDED
I can tell Dylan to “be nice” but what will speak volumes is how I lead by example. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
I NEED TO APOLOGIZE WHEN I'M WRONG
When I make a mistake as I did last week, I need to apologize. Have you ever met someone who won't genuinely apologize? I have, and I don’t want to ever be that kind of person. I need to emulate humility for my son and this is one powerful way to do so. It’s not easy to swallow our pride and say sorry, but it is so important to reconcile before relationship can be restored.
Kindness never goes out of style. Have courage and be kind.