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Tomorrow I will be better

Marrying Rodolfo, having him as my husband, made me want to be better. Having children forced me to be better.

The dramatic toddler who tries to jump from the grocery cart

You have got to be at your best when you have kids. Especially if you stay home with them, and they’re ALWAYS there, lurking in the shadows, watching your every move, hearing every slip of the tongue. Those little eyeballs see everything and those little ears hear everything and then at the most inappropriate moment your slip ups and biggest mistakes are being recited and re-enacted right before your eyes- and the eyes of all the bystanders in the checkout out at the grocery store.

What is it with grocery store meltdowns? We've all experienced them as mothers. Why is it always when you're trying to check out and finally get the heck out of the store? Is it because we've been dangling food in front of them for an hour without giving them any? Is it because we buy the off brand and they want teddy grahams and not imposter turtle grahams? Is it because they know we think we succeeded and they want to make sure you and everyone in ear shot is aware that you didn't? Whatever it is, children everywhere communicate to each other that the time to scream, demand, and make a fool of Mama is when she’s at the checkout.

If the biggest is with me I’ll hear her playing Mom, “I already told you to put it back, and you know that by the third ask, I’m angry because you’re not listening!” Or the toddler who has yet to eat lunch, and is approaching nap time will be impossible to reason with and will demand the entire box of M & M’s for lunch. She’ll throw herself dramatically, practically falling from the cart, demand to get down, and proceed to stand in the seat of the cart looking for an escape. My 5-year-old Elena will end up at checkout 7 when I’m at checkout 4 because candies and shiny things will have distracted her. So I’ll be grabbing the toddler, yelling for Elena and trying not to squish the baby in the Ergo. Oh, and all while trying to put groceries on the belt and find my wallet in the abyss that is my diaper bag.

By the time we get to the car it will not be my finest moment. I am an angry, easy to trigger mother. I don’t want to be, and I start almost every day praying not to be, and have Bible verses around my house to refocus me, but my personality for the past 36 years is that I’m the hot-tempered type. SO. This does not mix well with having four young girls. I might scream and yell that I was so embarrassed by their behavior, and have they forgotten how to behave like decent human beings, and why wasn’t the oldest watching for the younger ones, and why isn’t your seatbelt on yet, and “You are NEVER allowed to come to the store with me again, because coming with Mama is a privilege!” I know, I know, you’re not supposed to threaten with things you can’t actually stick to, but my anger makes me spew lies. I’ll say terrible, untrue things in the heat of the moment and then regret all of it when I pull into the driveway.

These are moments I can’t take back and they happen way too often. I let the little things get to me and blow them way out of proportion and my girls are watching how poorly I handle a little discomfort or an interruption. I’m always working with them on the Fruits of the Spirit and yet I fail time and again to model them in the face of adversity. When I don’t read my Bible I’m quick to forget how to control my tongue. When we miss church, again, because one of them is too sick, I’m one whiney, “No I don’t wanna!” from losing it. When I haven’t had a chance to workout in two days, yikes, you better watch out. But so what?! Life is unpredictable and messy and it pretty much never goes how you planned! So I need to get over it and get over myself, because these girls are watching how I respond to life. If I don’t show them how to adapt when faced with a challenge then they’re not going to know how to DO life.

Some of us are the hot-headed, easily irritated, high strung type. Our perfectionism can be an asset, but it can also be our downfall. Too often my quirks get in the way of being a good mother to my girls. However, I am comforted by the verse that I share with them when they’ve had a hard day, or have been bickering with each other, “The Lord’s mercies are new every morning” from Lamentations 3:23-24. No matter what an epic failure today was, tomorrow we are given a fresh start, and every tomorrow after that.

Before children I could do my own thing, my issues were a hindrance to my marriage, but my husband could confront me and we would work through things together. My children are just innocent bystanders looking to me for guidance, an example, love and affection. The responsibility of being a parent, a mother, is overwhelming if you dwell on it too much. I’m glad I don’t have to do it alone, I have Jesus and I have my husband to support me. Rodolfo choosing me, loving me, makes me want to be better, that‘s for sure. However, having four little girls imitate your every move, tone, and words, really forces you to stop, reflect, and make a plan to be better. It also humbles me beyond belief when I read the nightly devotion and we pray together and I ask them to forgive me for how I reacted earlier. They have yet to hold it against me, they are always so quick to shyly smile, hug me and say “It’s ok, I forgive you,” no matter how big or small the offense. The way a child loves is so pure, it melts my core.

Bedtime is a true test of patience…that I often fail.

My solution cannot be to say I’m sorry at the end of every long day. So what’s the plan? First and foremost, nothing sets the tone for a day like a bit of Bible reading. My current goal in this season is just one chapter a day. I use a plan on the YouVersion app. Some of my other strategies for keeping my calm and giving me coping tools are books like, Becoming MomStrong by Heidi St. John, which you can find on My Favorite Things page. I also find encouragement in the podcast, “Don’t Mom Alone” and listen to it when I run. It’s mentioned in more detail on My Favorite Things. I exercise 5-6 days a week to keep from being snippy. It doesn't have to be fancy or long. I haven't belonged to a gym since before Covid. I alternate cardio and strength and aim for 30 minutes. Sometimes it's a free YouTube video with Heather Robertson (also on My Favorite Things page), a run with a stroller and kid or two, sometimes I am fancy and ride on my Peloton bike. For some of us we have to sweat to get control of our emotions, and for others a brisk walk outside is enough to calm the nerves and regain focus. Taking that hour of alone time during nap or quiet time is crucial too. God didn’t put us on this Earth to do things on our own either. When my kids have a play date I have a play date too! Adult conversation, accountability and venting go a long way during a rough week.

The week is just getting started, today wasn’t great, but tomorrow I will be better because His mercies are new every morning.

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