My blogger friend over at Missives from Suburbia recently wrote a terrific post about how feelings originate from either fear or love. She presented a challenge to her readers to watch how we talk to and treat our loved ones and then make rational choices instead of impulsive ones. I took that to mean that I should consciously choose love over fear, kindness over harshness.
So today, the starting point for this challenge, I started my day in a fine way, with a smile on my face, newspaper in front of me, coffee in hand. Then the kids start acting…well…a little revved. Goofy, silly, loud, talking too much about farts and butts, you know, being just
a bit overly wild. I chose to ignore it all (well, except when I reminded them of our rule of no potty talk at the table), but as for the other stuff, I just kept telling myself, “Give ’em a little bit of slack today. They’re so happy…they’ll be on their way to school soon enough…” (as I felt the beginning pangs of a headache).
I quietly slipped into my room to get dressed, pulled on one of my favorite sweaters, and got ready for the day, urging myself to believe that there are no bad days, only bad moments. Each moment we make a choice (or many choices), and I was determined to choose to keep moving forward, to keep things in perspective and most of all to just be aware of how my state of mind affected my choices.
Then I noticed a hole in my favorite sweater. When did that get there? Rats. Take that off, put on some other shirt. Whatever. Keep going. It’s just an article of clothing. As my day continued, it just kept getting worse and worse (I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say it involved PMS). It reminded me of that picture book I recently reviewed on my radio show, called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You know, where everything seems to be going wrong and the bad moments continue throughout the day.
By dinnertime, I was really cranky and couldn’t muster a smile for anything. So I tell the kids to just give me some space. “I just want to check a few things online and then I’ll start making dinner,” I explain. So, I’m at the computer when I hear the first few notes of a song from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks. I look over to my right and see my son holding a tablespoon like a microphone while he lipsyncs the words (he recently discovered how to do it and is pretty excited to fake sing to all kinds of music in a hammy, performing kind of way). It’s pretty darn cute.
Anyway, so I glance over and notice he’s there, but I keep typing away on my keyboard. Then I glance again and notice that he has no intention of moving. Oh, no. He’s standing there as if it’s the stage in the Kodak Theatre and I’m his audience of thousands. He’s still looking right at me.
I know, sometimes it takes me a while, but I finally realized that this wasn’t just a quick snippet of a song, rather he was trying to pull me out of my funk. So I stop typing and get into the moment…this precious moment that somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I recognize I really need right about now.
I turn toward him and see his eyes looking at me in a way only your own child can. I can’t help but smile. He’s lipsyncing to the song Bad Day but instead of Daniel Powter singing Bad Day, it’s the one from Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Alvin’s version of the song, Bad Day
It’s working. My cranky-wall cracks ever so slightly and I start to smile, but just a little grin.
Then, at just the right moment, right at this big crescendo, my daughter slides into view (on her knees, doing a sweeping slide that finishes with her left arm swinging up into the air for dramatic effect). She, too, holds a tablespoon mic in her right hand, and joins my son in the lipsyncing extravaganza. Our dog feels the good vibes (or something) and trots over happily, wanting to share in this jubilant affair.
The whole performance is enough to make me stand up at the end, with a huge grin on my face and a really warm feeling inside, wrap my arms around both of my kids and just revel in this amazing moment. The kids are absolutely beaming. They know what works for me, how to make me smile, what can bring a smile to my face (as long as I choose to let it in).
How can all that translate to you? Well, I could say, “You should buy the Alvin & the Chipmunks tune, have your kids learn the words to Bad Day and sing for you.” But that seems like asking a lot and wouldn’t necessarily translate.
No, I just offer you this: when you’re having a really lousy day (like Alexander’s or like mine or whatever kind of day is your kind of bad day), dig way down to get to that place where you can throw off the mask that we often hide behind as adults and then look at your kids. You know, really look at your kids. If they’re not singing, then try to imagine them singing. Or pick up a picture of them when they’re asleep or when they’re being their most adorable.* It will melt you and get you back to a place where you can more easily choose love, compassion and kindness. The place where your heart wants to be. It’s a glorious place. Really. And it’s the key to getting past those bad
Love’s hard to beat.
It’s moments like those that make being a mom really, really great.
*This reference is to a post from another one of my blogger friend’s blogs, The Busy Dad Blog within which he shows a great picture of his son, affectionately referred to as Fury, at one of his most adorable moments. See what I mean? Makes you melt…and hopefully will do so even more when it’s your own.