I could feel the blood begin to boil up within me. I couldn’t exactly figure out why I was so irritable at that moment. It’s not like I had anything of more importance to do. This is what a homeschool mom is supposed to do, right? I’m supposed to be available to help my children with their school work. Why do I not want to do this right now? These thoughts kept swirling around in my head like huge crashing waves of guilt overwhelmed me with shame at my lack of desire to be interrupted.
“Momma, what’s wrong?” She asked.
I tried my best to cool the heat threatening to spill over onto her, “I’m not sure, sweetie. I’m not sure why I’m feeling so irritable right now. Let’s go over this again.” I forced myself to concentrate on the here and now moment, trying desperately to dampen down and hide the very obvious fact that I did not want to help right then.
As we continued to go over her paper, the inevitable happened. No matter how hard I tried, with each question, each word, sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard, my answers became more curt, less loving. It was as though a monster replaced all my common senses. My attempts at hiding my irritation failed. It was now very clear I did not want to be there.
“Momma, are you ok?” As I looked up into her innocent brown eyes, I broke. What was going on? Why was I so irritable? Inconvenience. Interruption. Those two words haunted me as I looked back into my baby girl’s eyes.
As those two words went round and round in my head heard a soft question deep within my soul, “what do you want her to know?”
I put down her notebook, turned toward her, held her small hands in mine, and looked at her. This wasn’t one of those passive looks, this was a deep looking. More of a studying of the precious human soul right in front of me. This was my child. She was a gift. Homework did not matter right then. What mattered was what I was telling her with my body language and curt responses.
“You know what sweetie? Can we take a break?”
“Sure, Momma.” She smiled.
“I don’t know why I’m so irritable right now, and I’m sorry you are bearing the brunt of it. Can I hold you close? I think I just need to remember that I love you and you are my daughter.”
She nodded as she snuggled up next to me. I held her in my arms as we both stared out the window in silence. With each deep breath I took, I felt my boiling blood cool.
After a few minutes of silence, deep breathing, and reflection on what it meant to be present in that very moment with my child, I whispered, “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”
“I forgive you, Momma.”
Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to push pause and be honest with ourselves and the situation. As parents, we must remember that shame has an incredible silencing power while children have an incredible capacity to forgive.
Be honest with yourself.
Be gentle on yourself.
Ask yourself the question: what is it you would like your child to know in your moments of frustration, irritability, and impatience?