The other day Emma and I were lolling about on the floor of my bedroom. She was throwing herself down on top of me, I would then tickle her, or 'munch' on her. At one point she leaned back, paused, and looked at me. The expression on her face seemed to say, 'Was that okay Mommy? Did I do the 'right' thing?' I thought about the look on my own face, as facial expressions are one of the ways that we receive feedback from other people, what did my face say to her? I think my expression was pretty slack, I was probably tired or thinking about the million other things I 'needed' to be doing.
This makes me sad.
On so many levels.
In that moment I realized that often I will be Emma's mirror for the world. My very next thought was, 'what do I reflect?' If I am always tired or distracted when I play with her what I am saying to her? Am I saying that she's not important? Am I saying that I don't like her? Or that I don't like being her mother? Look what I just did, I started the guilt spiral.
She will look to me for her first understanding of who she is. Does she behave correctly? Is she good? Is she bad?
She will also look to me for her understanding of the world, like I am holding the mirror at an angle for her. Is it interesting place? Is it a fun place? Is it a scary place? Later on in life she will begin to come to own conclusions about the world. Will the vision that I first gave her feel like the truth or will it feel like a betrayal?
This is so hard. I can't be positive and perky all the time. I just can't. Don't have it in me. That has nothing to do with her it's just my natural constitution, I only have so much perky preschool teacher in me. Which as the mother of a toddler is so hard. Especially on days when she's been grumpy, and all that I am getting in return is whining and crying. I think that at a certain point it's okay to let children know that their behavior is intolerable and makes you feel like snapping. I don't know about you, but when that point hits and I do snap I always, always, feel like the Worst Mother in the World.
I guess I can only hope in those moments when we are playing and I sigh and close my eyes and my thoughts laze on over to the laundry that needs to be done or the novel I should write that she doesn't take it personally. I can only hope that most of the time I am gentle, understanding, and patient. That she takes her view of herself from the gentle, understanding, and patient moments and not from the tired, distracted, and overly done moments. That she knows she's wonderful from my kisses and tickles. And fron the patience I have to read stacks of books. That she learns that the world is interesting from the decisions I make to take her places rather than sticking her in front of the TV for hours. I can only hope.