Monday, September 16, 2013

To be a calmer, happier mom

Shortly after we started milking one morning a week or so ago, Glen turned and said to me: "Why do you look so tired?"

"Well," I told him, "I stayed up to finish my blog post and then the night turned into a game of musical mattresses."

After I finished my blog post, I slipped into bed with Glen, who was sleeping on the mattress in the living room because the sheets for our bed were still in the wash.

But as I laid there trying to slow my mind down, I couldn't stop thinking about how poorly bedtime with Dan and Monika had gone. Bedtime had been a disaster. Dan wouldn't do what I asked. I lost my temper and yelled. Dan and Monika cried. I left them upstairs crying while I went downstairs to cool off. They eventually fell asleep.

But I felt terrible. Guilty. Bedtime is supposed to be a peaceful transition from day to sleep. A chance for us to read a book and pray together, for me to sing to them and rub their backs. It's not supposed to be a fight.

So, I crawled out of bed and tiptoed upstairs to Dan and Monika's room. I sat down on the bed between them and watched them in the blue glow of the night light. Their beautiful faces looked so peaceful as they slept.

I smoothed Monika's hair and rested my hand on Dan's cheek. And I thought to myself:

How can these little people, who I love more than life itself, make me so frustrated, even angry, at times?

I whispered into their sleeping ears: "I love you so much and I'm so sorry."

As I sat there, unresolved guilt bubbled up in my heart. Guilt from a question Monika asked a few weeks ago.

I was sitting on the floor in the living room with Daphne. I had just finished changing her diaper and she was now standing up between my bent knees. She was grinning from ear to ear and I was smiling back at her.

Monika was sitting right next to us.

"Momma, how come you're only happy at Daphne?"

My heart stopped for a second. Time stopped. I sat there reeling as my four-year-old's innocent, honest words hit me like a fist in the gut.

Monika was right. I do smile at Daphne a lot. When Daphne beams her big smile at me and coos, it makes my whole being happy, and that shows on my face.

But am I only happy at Daphne? Do I smile that much more at Daphne than I smile at Dan and Monika? So much more that it's noticeable?

Apparently, or Monika wouldn't have asked. But, why?

The explanation I tried to give Monika only half-answered her question:

"Well, honey," I said, "maybe because Daphne doesn't whine and misbehave."

What I didn't tell Monika was that maybe if I didn't spend 86% of my time with her and Dan on refereeing and redirecting and keeping them on task, I would have more time to smile.

I also didn't tell her that I felt awful. How horrible, that my little girl would think that only her baby sister makes her momma happy.

Even though I did my best to make us all smile that morning by giving Dan and Monika airplane rides on my feet, Monika's words still hung in my head.

I kissed Dan and Monika on the cheek and tiptoed out of their room. I wrapped myself up in a quilt and tried to fall asleep in my own bed.

Just as I was starting to relax enough to fall asleep, I heard Daphne start to fuss. So, I crawled out of bed and went to lay with her.

Before I finally drifted off to sleep, with Daphne cuddled up next to me, I resolved to be a calmer, happier mom.

A few days later, this quote showed up in one of my parenting magazines*:

           "Emotions are contagious
in families, and moms are the
                               emotional centerpiece."

I cut it out and put it up on the fridge.

Seeing these words on paper every day helps me remember that if I remain calm and happy, instead of losing my cool – whether it's over bedtime or supper or homework – everyone else will stay calm(er) and happy(er), too.

I'm also trying to smile more at all of my beautiful children.

*This quote was from the 5 most stressful moments in your week by Mindy Walker, published in the September 2013 issue of Parents.


  1. Excellent, as always, Sadie.

  2. Sadie, I'm sad to say I'm a few weeks behind on your columns/blog as we don't get the Dairy Star on this side of the pond... :)
    This was another excellent piece. Good things to think about if we ever add to the family, and it's so good of you to share these feelings because I'm sure others feel them, too.

  3. That's OK, Lucas. I'm always several weeks behind on my reading. :)

    I'm glad you liked this post. I think it's pretty cool that the two comments on this post are both from dads.


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