I’m rocking my 2-year-old son at 2:00 a.m., and his cry is finally starting to wane. He woke up covered in sweat and crying in pain and fear. He had finally broken his fever that had been hanging around for two days. As I held him in the dark, swaying back and forth, humming the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song and gently rubbing his back, he let out one more whimper before whispering, “I love you,” and falling asleep in my arms.
As I lay him back in his bed, I realized that my ability to be there for my son helped him to feel safe and calm. One long snuggle, a simple story or a loving touch can soothe my son from the pains of his sickness and the fear of his dreams.
Jonathan Swift said, "Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent.”
Earlier this evening, my mommy power had the opposite effect on my sensitive and charismatic 4-year-old daughter — who hates to sleep. As we were lying together in her bed, and I was reading her Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book, she kept asking for more water, to go to the bathroom and to choose a different outfit for school tomorrow; this would be the fourth outfit she would try on this evening. She pleaded for a different water cup, a new lamp and a live unicorn she could ride on. As she asked more questions, my frustrations grew until finally I exploded. Her tears began to stream down her face as her body shook with fear — or anger.
After walking away and taking a quick time out for myself, a sip of wine and a couple hundred deep breaths, I went back to her room. I held her and calmly explained that it was time for her to close her eyes. I apologized for yelling at her and she accepted, like she always does. I know I’m imperfect, so I forgave myself as well.
Even though forgiveness was handed out, I now understand my power as a mother. I don’t want my anger and frustrations to be the reason for her tears and hurts; there is plenty else in the world to do that.
As mothers, we make decisions every second about the best way to guide our children, how to show them love, comfort them and teach them. No matter how we treat them, they will quickly forgive, show grace and love us still. Although I want my children to be forgiving, I don’t want them to be the bearer of my inability to remain calm, stay empathetic and lead by example.
I want to show my children how they deserve to be treated in life. I want them to know that they can trust me and can be honest with me. I want them to know that life comes with boundaries, consequences, disappointments and huge victories. I want them to be confident in themselves without leaning on or judging others. I want to teach them how to understand and handle their emotions and how to empathize with others.
I hope they will be kind, sincere, curious and creative throughout their lives.
I know I’m not all of these things all of the time. I’m not sure I deserve this power over these two amazing humans — but I have it. So, today I make a promise to myself, and to them, to continue to grow and learn as an individual, a wife and a parent — so that I may know how to use this power for my children’s life happiness and growth.
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