One of my very dearest memories, and yet most heart wrenching memories of my daughter, Cali, came to the front of my mind recently. She was only three and had such a sweet, tender little person voice. I feel such regret that I didn't know how precious my children were at that young age and I wish I had taken more advantage of the time I had with them. I didn’t realize how wonderful that age was until they weren't that young age any more. I feel such heartache over it and I feel like I've been such a terrible mom.
I'm trying to learn from this however, and curb the cycle. When I start getting frustrated, annoyed, or overwhelmed I stand back and think of how they looked, smelled, and sounded when they were about eighteen months to two years old. I take in the feeling that I have that I didn't appreciate them as much as I needed to at that age, and I then hold on to that regret.
I look at my sassy eleven year old, and picture her at two, remembering that I don't want any more regret about the kind of mother that I'm NOT. I let that aching feeling into my heart, and it helps me remember how much this child does mean to me -- especially in the heat of a tough moment. When I take the time to do this, I'm better able to react with love (which doesn't rule out disciplining if it's needed, it just means that my discipline is coming from a much better place than simply angry reaction), and to remember my true feelings for them during the tough moments.
One of the “grounding moments” I think of is when we were at Starvation Reservoir as a family with West and his kids. West and I were still dating and I was struggling with my activity in my church. My divorce had knocked the wind out of me, and my bishop at the time of my divorce had knocked the last leg I was standing on out from under me.
I know I have a Savior. I know my Heavenly Father loves me. But I was really struggling.
I was sitting in the bow of the speed boat, and we were driving fast. The wind was whipping through our hair and Cali was sitting across from me. Her innocent three-year old voice came softly blowing to me on the wind and I could hear her tender small voice softly singing, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me hear, has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday."
I choked up with tears as she finished her song, completely unaware that I had even heard it. I pulled her into my arms and knew that I needed to teach her with all the love and understanding that I possessed.
I was thinking of that moment this morning and though I was still hit with it like a sledgehammer, I found it was more of a tender mercy than an achy feeling. I will take that as a sign that my efforts to curb my cycle with my children may be working.
I'm loving and appreciating them now-- right here, right now. Although I'm far from being the mother I think I should be, I have come a long way with them. I will forever be grateful for the chaos they create in my life. I am doing my best and trying my hardest to prepare them for life and remembering Cali singing "I Am a Child of God" is what helps me get through the tough parenting moments.
About the Author: Stephanie is finding balance in life with working and raising six kids with her husband. Life isn't a picnic, it's a full out Circus where we're learning everyday to "come what may and love it."