Growing up, and even now, I knew how lucky I was to have my mother. She always put me and my brother first. Her patience was vast, but it was not limitless.
Sometimes when I have a “bad parent day” and I snap, yell, show my teeth and scream into a pillow, I think about my mother. Her ocean of patience. How she would help me solve all of my little-kid problems. She was gentle, thoughtful, and loving.
Instead of this comforting me, or pushing me to do better, I feel worst about my own parenting failures. When I think of my mother’s near saint-hood I begin to wonder why I didn’t inherit those motherly genes. But the other day, I flashed on a vivid memory:
My mother slamming the front door hard enough to make the windows shutter. Her stomping down our front porch to go to the laundry room. (Our laundry room had a separate, outdoor entrance.) Throughout her mad march, she would swear and mumble things like, “Ungrateful, spoiled, frustrating.”. I would scream through my window as she walked by, “I can hear you!” She didn’t care and she didn’t stop, she just kept right on with her mumbling madness. The laundry room was on the other side of my room and I could hear her swear and pound on the washer and dryer with her fists, until eventually she would begin to sob.
I realized upon reflection that I relate to her most through her imperfections.
Her outbursts that at the time offended my seven-year-old-self, actually brings great comfort now that I too understand the stress of parenthood.
After her laundry room breakdowns, she would always come back inside and apologize. She would explain why she was mad and frustrated and we would talk about our fight.
Our reconciliations were perhaps the greatest lessons she could bestow upon me as a child. I appreciate them more as a stressed-out adult.
None of us are perfect and we all lose our minds at times. To pretend that we don’t would be a disservice to our own children. The most important lesson she taught me was to own up to my mistakes and show myself grace when I fall.
Her parenting techniques have stuck with me and are reflected in the care of my own children. I hope my children see the patience in me that my own mother wore like a shawl around her strong shoulders, but when I slip, as she did too, I hope I recover with grace and love.