Last night: My stress level was high. After a disappointing call from Andrew at work cancelling a plan I had made and throwing a kink in our dinner party next week, I was annoyed. The kids were ornery and snippy, Dean was whiny and fussy. At dinner, Leighton pretended his couscous were "sprinkles" and threw them all over the floor and table like confetti. Dean screamed and wouldn't be comforted by anything. In the tub, Eva and Leighton got in a huge, screaming fight that resulted on claw marks on both their bodies. (When I forget to cut their nails, it's like handing them a weapon and tell them to have at each other.) That was the last straw. I snapped inside. I grabbed the recorder from the play room floor and started yelling - in an ugly voice I hardly recognized as my own - and slammed the recorder on the counter. I grabbed them out of the tub, wrapped them in their towels, and threw them on their own beds, slamming the doors behind me. Then I put Dean in his crib and, to the terrible chorus of all three children screaming at the top of their lungs, I marched downstairs to the garage. I sat there panting and gulping in the cool air. I was scared of how angry I felt. I was scared that I didn't even feel sorry for losing it. I said a prayer - because the Spirit was nowhere near me by that point - asking for help in feeling sorry. I asked that my anger be taken away because I didn't know what to do with it. It was a very dark moment. I took a deep breath, then went back upstairs.
I found naked Leighton with a key trying to open Eva's door. He looked at me sweetly, as if nothing had happened, and said, "I got a key." I helped him open the door (although it wasn't locked, he was proud of his key that had fallen off the door post when I slammed it) and saw Eva curled up in a ball in her towel under her covers, her wet hair matted to her pillow and her face streaked with tears. In that moment, my prayer was answered, and all my anger disappeared. I felt the full weight of shame - self-loathing, even - at how I had treated my babies. I bent over her and told her how sorry I was. I asked her to fogive me, and my tears fell on her little cheeks. She gave me a hug, and all was well.
All night, I thought about how I had let my emotions run out of control. What kind of a mother was I? Not the kind I wanted to be. I thought about my goals for happiness and how my total lack of self-control was making it hard to make myself or my kids happy. This morning, after studying "self-control" in the scriptures for a half hour, I resolved to NEVER act like that again.
Tonight: All three kids were in the tub at once. Dean was joyfully kicking his feet and flailing his arms, his fat rolls jiggling. Leighton played Legos and built an airplane, then repeatedly crashed it and laughed hysterically. Eva leaned over Dean and cooed at him and let him pull her hair, laughing at his funny baby sounds. I watched it all and sang, "Boom boom, ain't it great to be crazy" and clapped. It was idyllic and peaceful and happy. The utter and complete opposite of exactly 24 hours earlier. After I got them all dressed, I put them in Eva's room to play dollhouse and went to drain the tub and hang up towels. I heard Dean start to fuss (I had put him on his stomach on the floor, and he hates that) and then quickly stop. I finished what I was doing and peeked around the corner to find Leighton showing Dean some little toys to play with. They all sat happily, playing together. It was perfection.
As I sat in Dean's room and fed him before bed, Leighton kept bringing us pieces of the dollhouse things, saying "Deanie needs these stairs." "Deanie needs flowers." Dean fell asleep despite the intteruptions and went down effortlessly (as he normally does, thankfully). Leighton had a bit of a hard time going to bed as he had fallen asleep earlier for a few minutes, so I went in his room to read him a story. He was so sweet during the story, asking me things about the numbers (it was a counting book) and understanding the story line. Afterwards, he was making jokes - genuinely funny ones - and we lay there laughing for a while. Then I sang him a song and rubbed his arm. He said, "Sing me another one, Mommy." So I did. He said, "Sing me another one, Mommy." I said, "I have to go back downstairs." He said, "Sing popcone popping on a a-ticot tee." So I did, and he sang with me, and did the actions with his adorable little hands. Then he said, "Mommy, go downstairs now." I kissed him and said I love you, and he said I love you a couple times, even after I closed the door. There was a happy glow around me, and I felt so content with my life as I came back downstairs.
What made the difference? Lots of things. Some nights, I let everything get to me until I reach boiling point, and some nights nothing bothers me. I don't know why. Why can't I always be positive? Why can't every night be like tonight?