Today was a long day out. At a certain point, I knew I had stepped into the fire as tempers flared and meltdowns were imminent. Yet I had a false sense of security once I had the kids strapped into their carseats and the car moving in the direction of our home.
Me: I love you both SO much. (Pause) Wait, that didn’t sound as excited as my love for you makes me feel – I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT MAKES ME HAPPY!
Daughter: I don’t love you. At all.
Son: I don’t wuv you, Mom.
My rational self knows to take these conversations with a grain of salt, but I’ll admit that they gave me an emotional suckerpunch. At the end of a long day, I am also exhausted and I find it difficult to remember what’s really behind my children’s statements be it hunger, overstimulation, or fatigue.
The parenting mantra that has been engrained into my psyche – Children are emotions in motion – saves me every time. They laugh. They whimper. They are nervous wrecks. That’s to be expected as they learn the tools of emotional regulation. My son is still extremely reactive and is prone to throwing things out of anger, whereas my daughter wants to discuss her distaste or disgust of her present situation with me. Add another child to our party at a congested location all after a light lunch and it doesn’t add up to a Leave It To Beaver moment.
Sometimes it takes my husband to snap me back to the reality of the situation. Stop taking it so personally. This isn’t about the kids hurting your feelings. It’s about you being there for them as they try to figure this out. And at that moment I feel like a child who hasn’t quite figured out how to calm down from the letdown. Part of me wants to sulk, but life moves on and within an hour we are snuggled up on the couch reading books as close as can be. Parenting is a roller coaster if there ever was one.