I was stirring dinner and a salty tear or two might have splashed into the soup.
I had just sent all three of my kids to their rooms because honestly, they were safer there.
One of my kids was so whiny from a sleepover my eye twitched every third word she said, my middle one was following me around making noises and my teen had just hurt my feelings.
I stirred soup and thought about all the things that had gone wrong in the last hour and how I had handled them and I cried.
I looked up and saw my teen son standing in the doorway.
He didn’t say a word. He walked over and wrapped his arms around me and he hugged me for a long time. He’s nearly 6 foot tall, this gangly boy-child of mine and all I could think was, “He is acting like a man.” And I swallowed the enormous lump in my throat.
He spoke for his siblings and said, “We’re sorry, Mom,” and then he was gone.
I stood in the kitchen and thought about how quickly my perception of my kids gets distorted. I live so up- close to them. I’m their manager, their evaluator, cheerleader, and chief overseer. I scrutinize and organize and sometimes forget to realize who they are right now and not just who they are becoming.
I mean, yeah, I know I am blessed with wonderful kids. I know this.
But in the moments when I feel like their behavior is a reflection of the job I’m doing as mom, I don’t always remember it.
Our home is their practice field. It is their learning ground. This is where I want them to get it wrong. The failures aren’t forever and they don’t define them–or me.
I live in this place –this close space of motherhood–where it’s easier to pick out what we get wrong and forget to acknowledge the countless things we get right.
I like to think and write, challenge and inspire us to be better because I want to be better and I want to raise grateful kids. But I think it’s also good to stop and acknowledge where we are because that helps us see how far we’ve come.
I’m always talking about gratitude and perspective (and heck, I wrote a 50,000 word book on it), but I’m learning when it’s hard to see the truth close up (especially on hard days), sometimes we have to step back for it to come into focus. It’s all in how we look at it, but we do have to stop and look.
I called my kids down for dinner. The rocky afternoon was long forgotten as we fought over the biggest squares from the brownie pan.
When I step back and change my perspective, when I turn my magnified view into a bird’s eye one, I don’t see their mistakes.
No, I see really great kids standing in front of me.
And that helps me see that their mom is pretty great, too.