I needed a good day. I needed a day where I didn’t have to call for backup, where I didn’t lock myself in a room to have a moment of solitude, and one where I didn’t feel like I was failing on all levels because I yelled one too many times.
They needed it too.
It's so easy to think back on the memorable good days; the ones where you made a point of the day being “eventful” and took them to ride the train, to the waterpark, petting zoo, whatever the case may be. But it did not dawn on me just how badly I needed a mundane good day, one that the kids will never remember, because why would they?
It’s not like being alone with the kids is a new concept for me at this stage. I have the kids most days by myself and I survive.
It was almost like I started to believe that I couldn’t have a good day with the kids all by myself though; that I needed help, or company, or my husband home to lend a hand, or an exciting event to go to in order to have a somewhat enjoyable day.
Nonetheless, the day I was in need of materialized. The kids were all so well-behaved. We even went grocery shopping without any epic meltdowns. The boys willingly went down for a nap, ate their meals, bathed like reasonable humans, and got ready for bed without having to be wrestled to the ground and pinned down for jammies or teeth brushing.
My daughter was helpful, rational and dare I say pleasant, even. I couldn’t figure out their angle… what was their end game here? As it turns out, they had no ulterior motive (unless it’s more of a five-year plan or something, which I wouldn’t put past my daughter to orchestrate).
What I’m starting to realize is that there really is no significant difference between a “good day” and a “bad day” except for my demeanor and how I respond to the kids.
On a good day, my kids are actually not better behaved, I just have more patience. They have wild tantrums, but I just have more patience. They try to turn the whole bathroom into a giant bathtub, but I just have more patience. They actually do fall to the floor like they’ve been shot (with a similar recovery time) because their banana broke, but I just have more patience.
They are three toddlers and it's impossible for them to be well-behaved all day long and keep their active-volcano-of-emotions at bay.
Yes, they will be tougher on some days, but if I am well(ish)-rested, have eaten even one item that could be classified as healthy, managed to shower in the last week (alone), and exercised in any capacity (chasing down a naked toddler does not count), then I am way more likely to cope with the flailing outbursts, savage sibling fights, and figuring out which colour plate my toddler would like.
For some reason I have it engrained in my beliefs that sometimes they need to be yelled at to “get it” or to calm down, to listen and to generally behave better. It is just not the case, at all.
It takes so many self-reminders that they calm down so much better when I show them empathy, and they listen so much better when I am calm but firm, and even when they are having an absolute meltdown (valid or not), it’s astounding what a genuine hug can do for a toddler; one where you don’t let go until they push away.
My rational side knows how to handle my children, and while I wish I could say that I am that mom all day, every day, at best I’m that mom some of the day, some days.
Whether or not they remember these unmemorable good days doesn’t matter all that much to me, I just really hope that’s the mom my kids remember, the one who tried to understand what they were going through, who had patience for every emotion that they needed to get out, and the one who hugged and didn’t let go.