A few weeks ago, I was a terrible mom. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I was. Life was overwhelming, I was exhausted, my patience thin, and I would’ve given my right arm to have a kid-free vacation. I was done. I didn’t plan on writing about this because let’s be honest, who wants to tell the world they’ve been a crappy mom? But, God (That guy. He’s always working.) had a plan to change my perspective.
My husband had a work conference in Orlando. Spouses were allowed to attend, so we made it into a little kid-free vacation. We actually had the option to bring the kids, since it was a family-friendly conference, but we decided to be selfish parents. We don’t get kid-free time that often, now that we don’t live near family, so we have to seize the opportunity when we get it. We napped, we went to Disney (both of our first times!), we ate all the food without sharing, and of course, talking with other adults is always a treat when you talk to a 1 and 3 year old all day. We had a blast reconnecting to our pre-kid selves and just spending some good quality time together. I was even able to have some “me” time. While my husband was busy at the conference during the day, I took on the hard task of laying by the pool and catching some rays.
The days leading up to the conference were the worst. My kids knew I was at the end of my rope and pushed every last button they could to send me over the edge. I spent two days before our flight in tears because I just didn’t want to Mom anymore. I was yelling, no one was listening, the fighting was NEVER ENDING, and the attitudes. Good lord, the attitudes. I was defeated and leaving those kids for a week of fun sounded like a dream come true. Of course, no time by you or your partner’s self is complete without talking about your kids the whole time. Those little turds, they were so rotten before we left, but I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t miss them.
My husband’s co-worker brought his whole family to the conference. Since it was in Orlando, they go ahead and make that week their yearly Disney trip. They have two boys, 6 and 3, and the 3 year old’s birthday is two weeks after Mykenzi’s, so they are the exact same age. I got to spend the majority of the time with them and their Mother while the Husbands worked. Y’all, if you ever need to check yourself as a Mom, just be around someone else and their children, and watch them Mother. Two things will happen, you’ll either feel better about yourself, or you will feel like you need to get your crap together. For me, I felt like I needed to get my crap together. I spent the prior week beyond frustrated with my children and their emotions. The truth is, they were just being toddlers, and I failed to take that into consideration. Have you ever seen that quote, “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” Yeaaaah, Hi. My name is Jennifer and I am a chaos joiner. Ugh, that hurt to type, but it was the truth. A truth that was even more apparent as I watched another woman Mother her children with such calm and such composure. Did they listen all the time? No. Did they throw tantrums? Yes. Did they interrupt or not always use their manners? Absolutely. They were kids, that’s what they were supposed to do, and it didn’t bother me one bit, even though, I could tell the Mother expected better from her children. We all do, right?
This is where my perspective shifted. I spent a week with children who acted no different than my own, and I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. Yet, the week before I spent scolding my own children for acting the same exact way. Cue, all the mom guilt. Talk about a reality check. Why is it so easy to pardon other people’s children when they act out, but not when it’s your own? She didn’t do anything special, she simply let them be children, and mothered around it. Of course, actions had consequences, but yelling wasn’t one of them.
I went to Orlando needing a recharge, but in a selfish, I just want my space kind of way. I left Orlando with a recharge on Motherhood, which is probably the best recharge I could’ve asked for. I’m definitely more mindful of the way that I speak to my children and make more of a point to keep my calm. I don’t want my children to remember the chaos, or remember that their Mother was the chaos. I know that I’m not always going to be the perfect Mom, but this was a great reminder to take a step back and give them a little grace. It made coming home so much sweeter, and I feel like I’ve been able to be more present, and cautious of them and their feelings. It really has made a world of difference in their attitude, and even my own. This motherhood thing is hard, y’all. It really does take a village. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to tell that Mom she’s a part of my village, but maybe one day I’ll let her read this. She really has no idea what a week with her and her children did for me and my children.