The other day I did something and I am not sure how I feel about it.
Once I did it, I immediately regretted it and looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Luckily, my slip in self-awareness went undetected, but I still feel a little guilty that I did it. What evil thing did I do?
Let me explain.
The other day I had one of those really, really long days. The type of long day where you have to remind yourself constantly that your children really are children and not monsters set out to destroy your sanity. The type of day where after work you truly dread taking off the professional hat and putting on the parenting one. The type of day where if you hear one more, "Mommy you're mean," or read one more, "Why isn't my grade updated yet," email from a student, or have to say, "Stop it and listen to me," one more time that you might literally need to go in your bedroom, lock the door, turn up the music and scream at the top of your lungs.
It was on this seemingly endless day that my overly exhausted 5-year-old daughter decided to bring my day to a new level of long.
After hours of pulling her off of her brothers, taking away her toys as punishment, pleading for her to calm down, and talking to her nose-to-nose in my sternest of voices, it was on this day that my 5-year-old-daughter decided to turn into a hormonal 14-year-old teenage girl.
She decided to start glaring at me through gritted teeth, as if to nonverbally challenge me with every ounce of defiance she could muster. She rolled her eyes while saying "whatever" and walked away from me while I was speaking to her. I almost lost it several times.
As you can see, it had been a long day. But like all days, evening was close and I could sense an end was nearing.
After soccer practice, I took the kids to the park. Unfortunately my daughter got to play at the park after practice simply because I had promised her behaving little brother that he could play there afterward. I was not a fan of her getting park time in light of her previous behavior, so I almost took it away from them both, in spite of that not being fair to her brother.
It turns out though, that I am glad I didn't. Don't get me wrong- she was awful at the park. She did the glaring, the "I'm pretending I can't hear you," when you tell me to get down, and the "I must have the slide my brother has *RIGHT* now," kinda behavior the whole time we were there.
Several times I felt horrified and embarrassed at what the other parents at the crowded park must have been thinking not only about me as a lenient parent, but of my defiant devil of a daughter.
After I had said, "Two more minutes," about 15 times, I glanced to my left and noticed something.
The dad by the big twisty slide was yelling at his crying kid for not listening.
The dad by the swings was trying to calm down his own screaming daughter.
The zombie-like mom by the jungle gym was uselessly trying to wrangle a squirming toddler back into her reach.
And that's when I did it.
It happened completely subconsciously and I didn't mean to do it, but I did it. I smiled.
As soon as I noticed that I had done it, I immediately straightened my face and glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. Whew. They hadn't.
But you know why I smiled?
Every. Single. Parent. at that park felt the same way that I did in that moment. We were all exhausted. We were all chasing down moody, tired, stubborn children that didn't deserve to be playing at the park. We were all on our last straw of sanity.
So in that moment, I smiled. And although I feel a little badly about it now, that smile changed my perspective that night.
My day didn't feel quite as long, and my daughter didn't seem quite as difficult.
So what? I smiled.