The battle of the voices in my head

It’s been a rough morning. One of those mornings, when my daughter decides that she doesn’t want to do what I ask her to do (in this case, read a page from her early reader) and I have no patience to deal with it.
One of those mornings when everything gets mixed up in my head and Fear is stronger than Love.

Fear tells me I’m raising a brat.
Fear tells me I’ve got to put the hammer down.
Fear tells me her life is going to be ruined and it will be my fault.
In the same breath, fear tells me that I am a bad mother AND that I am NOT the one to blame; that it’s her fault: the 7 year old sitting before me with tears in her eyes is my enemy.

Love tells me, she’s a good girl.
Love tells me I’ve got to let it go; this is nothing a hug and a kiss couldn’t make better.
Love tells me her life is going to be just fine and I am giving her such a good head-start.
Love tells me that I am a good mother, that no one is to blame; that the 7 year old sitting before me is just that a 7 year old…who hasn’t had breakfast and went to bed too late last night.

I am getting better at listening to Love but, unfortunately, Fear is still quick to spew out her poison. I didn’t say anything regrettable this morning but I spoke in anger and that never feels good.
My husband woke up to a daughter in tears and an upset wife doing push ups on the living room floor. He retreated to the bathroom, no doubt battling with the voices in his own head.

We all took a moment to ourselves. My daughter finished her breakfast. I went to my bedroom and picked up a book. She joined me not long after. We both sat at opposite ends of the bed flipping through pages to calm ourselves down… until we finally could cross the bridge that separated us.

Photo of Sarah Badat Richardson with her daughter

I hugged her and stroked her hair and asked her if she knew why I had been angry.

She answered it was because she disobeyed.
I told her it was because I was scared.
Yes she had disobeyed but I didn’t have to respond with anger; I could have remained calm (I’m working on that). Instead I chose to let my fear loose.
I threatened to take away ballet class. An empty threat, I knew the moment I spoke it out loud. Today is her last practice for next week’s show: her first ballet performance ever. Not letting her go to class would mean taking away the show too and that would not be fair. The punishment would not have been commensurate with the offense.

When my heart was back in its right place, my husband and I discussed and agreed on appropriate consequences. Together, we informed her. The incident ended with hugs, kisses and I love yous. We had managed to make it all better. Phew…

I’m sure you’ve noticed…Parenting is exhausting!
It starts with the grueling sleep deprivation of the infancy stage and from what I hear, it never ends.

We sleep through the night now. What I deal with is a different kind of fatigue.
Mental fatigue; heart fatigue; that leaves me drained and jittery all at once.

Yoga helps.
Breathe in. Hope.
Breathe out. Fear.

Writing helps.
Giving words to my emotions.
Organizing jumbled up thoughts into manageable actions.

Talking helps.
Sharing my feelings.
Knowing I’m not alone.

We’re all in this together.
Struggling is an intrinsic part of motherhood. We are not just raising our children. We are raising ourselves; to be better; to do better.
We hang in there no matter what. We hold on. We keep on going.
Whatever our struggle, we faithfully trudge forward knowing that…

“After all, tomorrow is another day”
Scarlett O’hara- Gone with the Wind.

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