I made you cry today. I knew it was coming. The two-hour hustle between work and bedtime was more than I could handle.
Your dad had to work late, so I tackled two daycare pickups, nursed your crying baby sister while trying to get dinner on your plate, and gave both of you baths. By the time we started reading your books, your sister had reached her limit. Nursing her wasn’t working, but you weren’t ready for bed. I asked you to go potty and instead you tried to get your toothbrush ready. When I heard you drop something in the bathroom I yelled, “Why didn’t you listen when I asked you to go potty!?”
I know I looked so mad when I walked into the bathroom. The tears started. I knew they would. I knew I was taking my frustration out on you, but not until the damage had already been done. You looked at me with those big, beautiful brown eyes and said, “Why are you yelling mama? It makes me cry.”
I wanted to make it right. I needed to scoop you up and squeeze all the sadness away. But all I could do was hug you while I held your tired, hungry, screaming sister. You told me you wanted daddy. You said you needed daddy. You cried for your daddy to come home. I can’t blame you. Tonight, mama wasn’t enough.
Somehow we made it through. Your sister fell asleep in my arms somewhere between my telling you I made a bad choice and humming the same tune I’ve hummed since the day you were born. You laughed at my bedtime story. You told me you loved me “more than anything golden,” which I surely didn’t deserve.
Some people say that being a parent is a thankless job. In these moments of clarity, when your innocence and pure heart teach me what I need to learn, I disagree. I made you cry today. Not because you didn’t like a consequence. Not because you’re four. Not because you were tired. I made you cry today because I’m imperfect, and I make mistakes.
On nights like these, I try to find the lessons in my failure. Recognizing them and calling them what they are strengthens my resolve to model the behaviors you need to see. Tonight I will kiss your forehead while you sleep and go to bed with a heavy heart. Tomorrow is a new day, and I promise you that I will make it count.