I Harbor the Ugly

Yesterday was one of those days.

The kind of day you wish you could just start over. Start from scratch.

I mean, I knew things were beginning to get out of hand when I started talking about The Starving Kids in Africa! to prove a point about whining over playing video games.

Those days are rough. And unfortunately, they come around too often.

By mid-morning, I was wondering just how much more…accomplished, I guess would be the word…my life might be once both kids are grown and gone. Or at least old enough to both be in school all day long.

I might actually get back into shape. I might actually write a novel. I might be able to keep the house clean for longer than 14.73 seconds. I might be able to take a shower every day. The possibilities are endless!

And then I’m yanked out of that daydream by an eight-year-old asking for the infinitieth time if he can turn on the television even though I JUST said, “Not until your room is clean”, or a two-year-old pitching a full-blown tantrum because I won’t let her play with safety pins.

But here’s my secret: though I raise my voice and huff in frustration, I am silently glad.

Glad because I’ve been crouching in my darkness, waiting for their behavior to cross into “undesirable” so I can dole out punishments with justification. I’ve been feeling small and petty and bitter, and finally, I have a reason for those feelings to manifest themselves in all their ugliness.

And I harbor the ugly with ease. I nurse it. I let it hide beneath the excuse that we all have those days, I let it grow restless inside the partial truth that they’ve earned the threats and restrictions and harsh words. I let it loose outside the bigger truth that they are small now and learning. Learning from the best that it’s not only okay to feel frustrated and disappointed and angry, but that it is okay to express these things with smallness, pettiness, and bite.

I let the ugly swell bigger than the beautiful, heavy weight of growing this boy and this girl, of witnessing their intelligence and kindness. I let it thicken more solidly than the fragile hearts beating sweetly in their chests. I make it more real than the impossible, short time I have to parent them before they leave me behind in their glorious dust.

Yesterday was one of those days when I was reckless with the gift of motherhood.

But I am lucky that I can do it all over today with two who really do make it easy.



Filed under Parenting

10 responses to “I Harbor the Ugly

  1. Yes, we all do have those days. I’m thankful for a God who not only gives 2nd chances, but 72nd chances. I’m likewise grateful for a loving wife who covers my ugly with her love, and for 2 kids who are quick to forgive when I blow it as a dad.

  2. Larry The Deuce

    Harboring the ugly. Glad that’s you, not me.

  3. Wow, Jess. That is some kind of beautiful. Be gentle with yourself. We all have those days. And our children, bless them, are willing to forgive us.

    • Kids are awesomely forgiving and I have no idea how it gets lost by adulthood. I like to write puh-lenty about the awe-filled days of parenting; I figured I had to be fair and honest – at least a little bit. 😉

  4. Ricky Anderson

    I find myself trying to explain logic to a flailing, screaming not-yet-one-year-old. Does that count?

  5. Elena Aitken

    Oh, we all have those days. I LOVE your take on it.

  6. Pingback: Storytellers | Meet the Buttrams

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