The lesson for today is “Listen To That Inner Mommy-Voice When It’s Screaming At You, or Else [insert tragic circumstance here].”

Just when I thought I was running out of things to write about and my blog would shrivel up and die, my two year old once again provided plenty of material for me.

To preface this story I would just like to say that in addition to my 4 month old and two-and-a-half-year-old, I’m also watching my friend’s 18-month-old for a week. Plus, it’s ninety degrees today which makes everyone whiney.

That is my defense.

For a brief hour today I had all three kids simultaneously taking naps, during which I read a book without guilt. One by one they each began to wake up, so I began the snack rotation while putting dinner together. It was only 1:30 in the afternoon, but I was making a chicken curry salad that needed to be chilled.

Toward the end of all this mayhem, one kid was crying, one kid was wandering happily about with toys in hand, and one particular EEEVIL blond girl was much too quiet.

The Voice told me to check on her.

I ignored The Voice.

“But I just want to mix this dressing,” I told The Voice. “I’ve been trying to make this salad all morning and I’m almost done.”

She’s up to no good, said The Voice. CHECK ON HER NOW!

Quietly and patiently I scooped the salad into a tupperware and put it in the fridge, washed my hands, put a few dishes in the dish washer, then walked into the living room to check on Ruthie.

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!

[Now, let me just take this moment to assure everyone that I later apologized to Ruthie for what you are about to read because, while she grossly misbehaved, there is no excuse for the temper I unleashed on her in my anger. I am far from perfect as a mother, but I always make a point to tell Ruthie I’m sorry when I am wrong.]

The pink I painted on her toenails apparently was not enough for Ruthie, because she confiscated the bottle of nail polish and painted her legs, her arms, and poured the rest of the bottle out onto my BRAND NEW COUCH.

This is the couch I saw in the store window, fell in love with, waited six months until we had the money to buy it, waited five weeks for it to be delivered, and now have the privilege of napping on daily. It’s red. It’s soft. If I were Dooce I would lick my couch.

I’ve only had it for three months.

I believe what came out of my mouth was something like, “YOU ARE IN SUCH BIG FUCKING TROUBLE YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO TAKE THINGS OFF THE TABLE DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH I HAD TO FUCKING BEG FOR THIS COUCH I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS…” etc. etc. etc. You get the idea: all caps, no punctuation, lots of swearing.

Poor thing. Poor, unsuspecting cute blond girl who just wanted to look pretty.

I think the most important thing that I am currently learning as a mother is how easy it is to crush the spirit of my children and embitter them against me. Countless times I have, in mid-sentence, flash forwarded in my mind to Ruthie at age thirteen: bitter, rebellious, and hating me because we’ve spent our entire relationship butting heads.

She is a creative, smart, observant, verbal, independent girl, and I think most of the time I fail to recognize all of these (and more!) amazing qualities about her because I’m so fixated on her stubborn will and propensity to be curious.

I pray on a daily basis that I will let go of this and learn to choose my battles more carefully with her so the next time I go ape over [insert tragic circumstance here], my voice is not just the white noise she hears from me all day long.

I made good with Ruthie. As I cleaned her up I spoke quietly to her, apologizing for losing my temper, and I asked her to forgive me. We kissed, we hugged, then we had some snuggle time while the other kids napped again. I cherish my time alone with her, and I wish I could will myself into being more tender with her when she’s out of line.

She is a beauty — a one-of-a-kind — and I love her dearly.

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