Let me start this post by saying I know I am not the world's best mom. I know some days I am better than others. And I know that each day, each moment is a chance for me to do better!
Now let me give you some background information. Dotty used to be a very poor sleeper. Any of you that know me or my child well will know that she did not sleep through the night until she was 3 years old and even for many, many months after that she still woke up several times a night (like 3+). Needless to say I was VERY sleep deprived!
When Dotty goes to sleep at night I lay down with her, read books, sing a song, then pat her until she (or I) fall asleep. Back in the day when sleep was a scarce commodity I tended to be a very tired momma with a very short fuse by 9pm. I was exhausted and needed those few precious hours of sleep I got off and on through the night. Many times I would get on to Dotty if she wiggled too much or played with her toys in bed or just simply would not go to sleep.
Last night the words I said to Dotty (and sadly the tone I would say them in) came back to haunt me.
By the way...Dotty has gotten much better at sleeping through the night...it is pure heaven let me tell you!!!)
Last night we snuggled in to do our routine. I got out of the bed for a minute then when I was climbing back in to start the "patting process" Dotty said something to me that made me laugh at first then made me sad very quickly after that.
Dotty said, "Momma get still! If you keep wiggling around while I am trying to go to sleep I am going to sleep in your room!"
(That used to be my threat for Dotty...that if she did not get still I was going to sleep in my room and she would have to fall asleep all by herself.)
I started to laugh at how she was mimicking me...then reality set it. Dotty went on to say, "I mean it Momma...I will go to your room and sleep and you will be in here all alone and you will cry yourself to sleep."
My heart broke. Now I know I never said those words to her ever...but that is what she must have thought about my threat...that I would leave her and she would be all alone and she would cry.
Wow! Talk about a reality check.
My laughter was now long forgotten...I realized that Dotty had pegged me exactly. The nights when I would say that to her in such a harsh tone were some pretty tough nights but they didn't justify my behavior.
I slowly pulled Dotty to me and in the dark I doubt she could see the tears run down my face. I said to her, "Dotty...I am so sorry I spoke to you that way in the past when I was very tired and very grouchy. You did not deserve to be spoken to that way. I love you. I love you...so much! Can you forgive me?"
With a yawn she said..."I forgive you Momma. We have to learn to be nicer to each other." I agreed with her and kissed her sweet face. Then I patted her to sleep...which only took a matter of minutes.
I stayed awake a long time after that...thinking what a terrible mother I was. Then I remembered...I am human...I make mistakes...I did ask Dotty for forgiveness and now I had to forgive myself. I prayed to God to forgive me for treating Dotty so gruffly in the past. I prayed for patience...and I prayed for the opportunity to be patient.
I am not saying I won't ever lose my temper in the future...but I do hope that it will take much more than a wiggly little girl to cause me to lose my patience. I also don't plan to let Dotty get away with everything in the future but I will learn to talk calmly and rationally more often than loudly and in an angry tone. No parent is perfect. I know that.
I was raised by imperfect parents...who loved me more than life itself. I don't blame them for any "failures" they might have had as parents. All I remember (mostly) is the adoring love they gave me every day.
That's what I hope Dotty will remember from these early years and from now on. I also hope I remember the love that Dotty and I share. And I hope I learn from the lessons God puts in front of me. Sometimes when God speaks He whispers...and sometimes He sounds a lot like my four year old little girl.