Today was a rough day. My mom got angry with me. It was actually well-deserved, since I was flipping out and not listening to what she was saying.
I was trying to find a way to give my iron-deficient babies some icky iron drops. I was over-tired from a night of babies who needed constant parenting. And I was just plain cranky. So, I called Mom. Eventually, she lost her patience with me. And you know what? It felt terrible. Even as a grown woman, with children of my own, having my mom angry at me was devastating. My stomach dropped, and I felt a brief moment of panic. What would I do if Mom stopped helping me? What if she stays mad forever?!
I realize now it's silly, but I felt those feelings sure enough, sitting at my kitchen table, staring at my dark cell phone, flanked by Gus and Jack pulling terrible "I hate iron" faces.
After some deep breaths, an admission of temporary defeat on the iron front, and a diaper change for my boys, I had epiphany. It was one of those moments when you stop in your tracks and realize your whole world-view has shifted. It was powerful.
I came to understand that as The Mom, I am that person whose love and acceptance is so critical, so empowering, so necessary to my sons.
And when they want me, they need me. My smiles and gentle words are like rain to thirsty fields. My loving touch and nurturing breasts are literal and figurative food for them.
As a gentle parent, it is my responsibility to love them and parent them unconditionally, in such a way that they never have to feel that stomach-dropping "Is mom mad at me?" wave come over them. Because they have only had 10 months' experience of life on this earth, and they're still developing an understanding of how this whole big world works. If they see me angry (and I know they will-- I have no disillusions on that front) they need to know it is not directed at them. Or, if it is, I need to control my emotions and comfort them accordingly. I'm the adult. I'm the parent.
I'm the mom.