Parenting is a roller coaster of emotions. Moments of pure joy and contentment are what every parent (and person) yearns for. But there are also moments of fear, regret and shame that will stay with us forever.
We were alone in a hotel room in a foreign country, my 2 year old and I. I was missing out on a soccer game because it was late and you just don’t take 2 year olds to nighttime soccer games in foreign countries. I don’t remember much about the actual situation. I’m guessing she was whiny and probably wouldn’t sleep. I’m sure I was exhausted from traveling with a toddler. I’m guessing I was resenting that I didn’t get to hang out with the rest of the adults. We were on the bed and she was playing with the plastic Do Not Disturb sign. Her arm flung back and then forwards towards my face, the plastic of the sign hitting me right between the eyes on the bridge of my nose. The pain was blinding. I immediately overreacted.
Her face fell. She was quiet as she looked at me in horror and then she screamed. She cried, I cried, we clung to each other, both so frightened by what had happened. I was alone, in a foreign country, and I had just reacted in a terrible way. It was not a calculated retaliation, but a primal urge to hurt something that had hurt me, or at the very least to defend my body. It left me scared and ashamed. I did not ever want to react that way again. I did not want her to ever feel afraid of me. This was a defining moment on my parenting journey. This was not how I wanted to react. This was not who I wanted to be.
I was finally able to get through to my husband on the phone. He assured me this was going to be fine. She would not remember this. I don’t know how he really felt during that call. I’ve never asked. I can’t imagine how I would have felt had he called to tell me he had reacted in that way. Would I have understood or would I have been appalled. I’m still not sure. I don’t want to know.
I want to constantly remind myself that no matter what, I want my children to feel loved. They are innocent beautiful creatures and they’ve been entrusted to me. Anytime I forget that, I need just go peek at them while they sleep soundly. I must nurture and care for them, always giving them my best. When someone acts the least deserving of love, it’s probably when they need it the most.