I had trouble sleeping last night. I woke at midnight and then again at two and when I heard the bells tolling on my phone at 5:20 this morning I decided to be kind to myself and hit the snooze.
It was also my effort to be kind to the hubs who was tired himself from the past few weeks of Saturday morning early wake up calls so that I could leave to meet my running group.
When I woke again to the bright overhead light and little girls playing fairy (wings and all) it was 6:55 a.m.
The WannaBeasts were surely all lined up and ready to go. I had a pang of envy, but overall I knew that I needed the rest, especially after yesterday and what turned out to be the Princess Party from h-e-double hockey sticks.
My girls were so excited to wear their Cinderella dresses that Santa Claus had brought for them at Christmas. We had just read Fancy Nancy’s Tea Party book and were up to date on the proper etiquette that big girls demonstrate when being invited to such occasions.
The moment we walked in the door past the balloons and into an unfamiliar room full of other little Princesses, my girls turned into cling-ons and I had to drag them through the house like barnacles attached to my white Hudsons.
They wouldn’t speak or play or eat or participate. They declined the tiaras and the magic wands and looked at me like they were about to get shots or be left with a witch or forced to wear pants with buttons.
To no avail, I tried to get them to join the others at the tea-table set with circular peanut butter sandwiches and Goldfish and bright pink frosted cupcakes. I ended up sitting between them and had nice conversations with the other little girls brave enough to stay at the party without their moms.
The moms that had stayed looked at me with pity. I could imagine what they were thinking, but they were kind. I was embarrassed.
I unwrapped cupcakes for W and the little one next to me whose name I didn’t know. She felt safe enough next to me to ask for help once her cupcake had split in two. I told her to pick a side and eat it first and that eventually the other side would meet up in her belly. I wiped W’s pink face with a wet paper towel and spoke to L about her darling haircut (her first).
When Rapunzel showed up at the door and all the children went to dance in the living room, my two were busy pitching a major fit in the dining room.
I grabbed my keys, said, “Happy Birthday,” to K and left after allowing the hostess to give the girls a party favor, which was promptly removed from their possession once in the car.
I strapped them into their booster seats and in my most stern mommy voice told them of my disappointment and unhappiness with their behavior. We went home and I cooked dinner. They were sent to their room for a major time out.
I spent the next while thinking about my goal to be kind and wondered how I’d been so in this situation.
Small acts of kindness are easy; smiling at a stranger, holding the door for a mom with baby carrier, saying, “Happy Birthday and Thank You,” to the hostess of a party.
Kindness with your kids (or husband or parents or friends) in the midst of temper tantrums is more difficult to do.
As hard as it was to hear them sobbing in their room and trying to manipulate their way out, the kind thing (the right thing) was to set the limits to give them structure for their behavior.
Hopefully the next time we’ll do better.
It’s the best we can do.
The hub for all I do, marthawills.com documents life from a working mom's point of view. When not mothering, I manage the social media needs of small businesses through Wills Media Group, LLC, and write a weekly column for Raleigh's News & Observer online entitled, Are We There Yet? Most recently, my passion for health and wellness led me to become involved as a consultant for Beautycounter, a company that's making a difference by educating about toxins in products, spreading the word via the web.
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