I had a bad-mom-turned-good-mom-moment today.
Yesterday, my son was sick. By the end of the day, he was running around and feeling much better. This morning, he woke up with a forced cough and the determination to stay home again. His choice to stay home didn’t fit into my schedule and so I matched his determination with my own, and decided that he would go to school. Finally, his will conquered mine and he stayed home. In exchange, I offered obvious irritation toward him instead of loving compassion.
Later, when he came to me with real tears, real pain and real symptoms, the guilt broke a little crack in my heart.
When I became a mother it felt like my heart grew ten times its size in an instant. It expanded beyond the parameters of my physical body and enveloped my little family with a type of magic I had never known. It contains more love than I could ever describe.
But inside this massive heart of mine, I hold many tiny cracks—each one, a reminder of every mistake, every misunderstanding, every lost temper, and every missed moment. The cracks form the landscape of my heart; the painful memories of shame and guilt, causing wounds that never heal. For a long time, I thought it would be best to try to forget about them. I thought that as a mother, the burden of guilt and shame are part of the job.
I’m starting to reconsider.
I’ve decided to believe that everything we encounter in our lives is a gift, and despite the way it looks on the surface, there is something worth discovering in each and every moment. Every time I face the familiar feeling of guilt, I try to take a moment to sit with it.
I ask my guilt what it has to teach me.
Today, it taught me about pride. I swallowed a heavy dose of it as I sat down to apologize to my son for not listening to him when he told me he was sick. I apologized and told him that I could have handled myself better, and that I would try to do better next time. Admittedly, as I spoke, I had a sense of satisfaction in seeing a smug little smile form across his pale face. Despite the weakness in his body, his little chest puffed up.
I think his heart was getting bigger.
Next, I offered forgiveness to myself. I often make mistakes as a mother, and as important as it is to apologize to my children, it is equally important to offer forgiveness to myself. A simple intention to release ourselves from past errors is enough to mend those cracks that form across the surface of our hearts. Every time I allow myself to release the heavy burden of guilt or shame, it seems that my chest swells with emotion.
I think my heart is getting bigger.