When your youngest son is eating breakfast and yells at you “Mama, leave! I don’t want you in the kitchen with me!”
When you offer to help and they turn away, or whine that you never help, or stomp upstairs and slam their door.
And they are only three and five years old.
When you make dinner and it’s not the same as what the five year old requested, and he looks up at you with watering eyes and a quivering lip: “Mommy, but WHY didn’t you make what I told you to when you asked me??”
When you ask them for the fifth and sixth time to PLEASE get dressed and ready for school, and the oldest is crying and says “I don’t have any good pants to wear, Mommy! I can’t get dressed!”
And you know all the clean pants are either in the dryer in the basement or folded neatly at the very bottom of the clothes basket in your room.
When your three year old is asking for, whining for, help getting his shoes on and you stop what you’re doing to come over and help, and he yells “No! Not you! I want Daddy to do it!”
When you repeat like a broken record that you won’t buy them a new toy every time you go to the drug store to buy cat food, or milk, or toothpaste, and then your five year old tears up and says “But that means you won’t get me anything for my half birthday?? You promised!”
And you know in your heart of hearts that you never said anything about presents on his half birthday. Or maybe you did? Either way, you are being firm about consuming and trying to set an example and they will appreciate this later when they’re older. And you hope they still love you.
When you lose your temper again because they asked for one thing then wanted another; when they blatantly disobeyed you; when they do not give you space although you asked nicely for it.
And you know that all the toys and presents in the world won’t make up for how you’ve treated your children every day as their mother. Whether you yelled at them or hugged them; got angry or annoyed; were joyful or jealous. Played with them or lectured. Washed, fed and cared for them. Or sent them to their rooms. And you hope you still love yourself.
When you finally see how painfully attached you are to every outcome, good or bad, of every interaction with your children. And you see for the first time how that attachment causes suffering. Your suffering. Their suffering.
And a voice rises up from inside you in meditation one night, after a very long day, revealing this. The voice then says:
Your small scared self asks, how?
“Love them. And have compassion for yourself, and for them.”