Almost every morning, I wake up and head to my meditation mat. And every morning, I say the same thing.
“Today I will be calm. Today I will not yell. Today I will breathe deeply. Today I will not let a three-year-old infuriate me. Today I will be calm.”
And every evening, when my husband returns home and takes over, I say the same thing.
“Tomorrow I will do better. Tomorrow I will stay calm. Tomorrow I won’t yell. Tomorrow I’ll breathe deeply. Tomorrow I will remember that he is three, and I am forty.”
Yes, tomorrow, when I am trying my best not to yell because he has climbed up the side of the teepee for the third time nearly knocking the structure over, and I tell him that I need to step away and take a few deep breaths … And when I step away and watch him through the picture monitor whip down his pants and start peeing on the carpet …
I will stay calm.
Tomorrow, when he is angry because he cannot have forty strawberries and because we are out of animal crackers, and he throws over the stool, knocks the highchair backwards, tips a dining room chair sideways onto the hardwood floor, and then screams so loud the neighborhood dogs start their barking …
I will not yell.
And tomorrow, when he calls me evil, and spits on me, and shouts in my face, and tells me he wishes Ariel was his mother, and doesn’t want to be my friend anymore …
I will take a deep breath.
Instead, I will close my eyes and try to put myself back on the mat where I sit when the house is quiet, when he is sleeping peacefully in his bed, his little body curled around his pillow. I will try to remember the faith I had in myself in the wee hours of the morning before the day has had a chance to make an unbeliever of me. I will try to summon the strength I started with, reminding myself that he is only three, and that he loves me madly, just as I love him.
No doubt I will fail. Oh yes, I will fail. And when I do, I’ll take another deep breath. And remind myself that I’m still a decent mom. I’m still learning. And that I deserve forgiveness.
And at the end of the night, after he’s cheered up because he’s fed, and bathed, and had his daddy time, I will hold him tightly and whisper:
“I’m sorry I yelled today buddy. Let’s have a good day tomorrow.”