Mommy’s Mulligan

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Peanut and I had a terrible time Friday morning.
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On my side of things, I was tired after being up several times with Pumpkin during the night.  I awoke in a queen sized bed, which was overstuffed by four humans and one 75-pound dog begging to join the party.



It was like this but with a lot less smiling.
And even less make up.



I was irritable and wanted to rush the morning routine to get to work.  Of course I didn’t take a minute to notice or process these feelings as they were happening.  I just acted as though everyone should make way for me. (Duh) For the record, I’m not proud of my behavior.
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On her side of things, Peanut was being, well, four.  She didn’t want to navigate through the routine; she preferred to watch TV.  She didn’t like the breakfast we made.  She refused to clean up the cereal she spilled.  Later when it was time to get dressed, she hemmed and hawed.  And then hemmed some more.  And don’t forget the hawing.
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She ignored our requests to get dressed and our warning.  And when her cranky mother told Peanut (through slightly gritted teeth) to stay in her room until she was dressed, she had a full melt down that lasted long after we pulled out of the driveway.
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It was a bad morning.  I didn’t like the mom I was and Peanut was driving me nuts. (no pun intended!  I swear!)
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But as I was pulling up to the stop sign in our neighborhood, I realized that one of the reasons I had turned into angry mom was that I had rushed the shift from mom to employee. Working parents have to make that shift every morning, ideally after the kids are at school and/or daycare.
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That morning, I woke up as an employee not as a mother. Peanut had gotten an undedicated, distracted version of me.  Yes, she made some bad choices.  But I didn’t want to drop her off at school that upset, even if her own behavior contributed to her emotional state.
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So instead of turning left to go to her school, I turned right.  We headed to Starbucks.
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The den of do-overs!
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One chocolate milk and one grande Pike Roast later, we were smooshed into a single oversized armchair. But this time I wasn’t cranky about being crowded, I was grateful to be talking about the morning.  I told Peanut I didn’t like having mornings where I was angry and she was frustrated and sad.
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She barely nodded as she continued to chug her chocolate milk.
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I apologized for using my angry voice, even though I was frustrated.  That got her attention and she looked at me right in the eye and said, “You are right Mommy.  You shouldn’t have done that.”
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<Dagger to the heart.>
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I told her I needed her to use her listening ears better in the mornings.  She continued to stare distractedly at her chocolate milk container.
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We talked about how we can start our day over at anytime. I told her that even as an adult I still start my day over when I’ve had a yucky morning.  No response.  Clearly, I wasn’t getting through to her.  I was a little lost but decided to press on a bit more.
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I asked her if she knew the best part of starting your day over.
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“Yup, the chocolate” she replied, without hesitation.
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“And the hugs?” I asked.
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“Yes, but mostly the chocolate.”



At least I’m clear on her emotional currency.
And it’s organic.



I’d like to think that even though there was no culminating moment in Starbucks, even though my mea culpa to Peanut only got through to her via chocolate milk and not some deep moment of reconciliation, something good still happened.
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The truth is that I have no idea what will stick in her mind and heart from that morning. It could be that she’ll have a memory of a working mother inconvenienced by the needs of her kid as she is rushing to get out the door.  Or maybe she’ll remember the do-over conversation.  Then again it’s entirely possible that she won’t remember any of it.
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But I will.
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I remembered this morning that my kids are the recipients of my (limited) parenting skills and I’m accountable to them.  I’m accountable for being present.  Sure, I’m allowed to be frustrated and angry but I’m also responsible for modeling how to express those feelings appropriately both in the moment and afterwards.
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I remembered the kind of mom I want to be. I was disappointed with the chasm between that mom and the one that I’d been that morning.




I remembered that it’s totally worth $3.78 and
fifteen extra minutes to restart my day.

 

I remembered that even moms deserve a do-over once in a while.  

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