While we were in Chicago, we stayed at a hotel that was a considerable distance from downtown, and took the train in every day. This was (usually) fun for the children, and it saved us lots of money so that we could actually do more exciting things on vacation. The only downside was that we often found ourselves on a late train back to our hotel when traveling for another hour was the last thing we wanted to do with three wiped out little girls and two exhausted parents.
Me and my popsicle-faced girls: Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
One night on the train, another family got on and sat across from us. They were clearly just as tired out as we were, and it looked like they had had a really great time since they were all wearing paper hats with insults written on them from that one restaurant (Dick’s Last Resort) and the kids were happily chatting with each other.
Now, I don’t presume to know what the mom was feeling or how her day went, but she was one grumpy lady. I couldn’t help but notice that she was snappy with her kids for no apparent reason, that she acted annoyed if they wanted to tell her something, and that when she did talk to them she only told them not to do whatever it was they were doing. (Hey, the train isn’t big, and they were sitting directly across from me so it was hard not to notice!)
I was kind of appalled at her behavior, but then I started to realize that I am that kind of mom way too often. Tired. Annoyed. Unengaged. Preoccupied. Critical. It was like getting hit over the head with a two-by-four for me to realize how that might affect my children, and I am determined not to be that mom.
I want to be the mom who always has a smile ready for her child, no matter how tired I am. I want to be the mom who always listens and responds no matter how annoying my child is. I want to be the mom who is involved with my children and cares about the things they are telling me. I want to be the mom who is willing to drop whatever I am doing becaue my child needs me. I want to be the mom who gives more positive reinforcement than negative, the mom who says yes more than she says no.
I’ve thought a lot about the Time Out For Women that I attended this past April. I have had a really hard time coming up with something to become this year. I was leaning towards working more on my health, on becoming an exerciser, but I am already feeling good about that particular goal and felt I needed to focus on something else. I just wasn’t sure what it was.
Until I observed that mom on the train. I realized that the thing I need to become is a “joyful mother of children.” Sure, I am a joyful mother sometimes. Perhaps this website even leads people to believe that I am a joyful mother all the time. However, I can assure you that I am not.
But I want to be.
And so, I am resurrecting my Project Walking Into a Hug (I based it on this bookby Janene Ustach). In typical Lara fashion, I started something that I never finished. I hit a wall and I gave up. I am going to try to finish it this time, even though I might have a hard time staying on track. Each week I will post the goal for the week and if you would like to join me, you are welcome. I could definitely use the support and the cameraderie.
I’ll start next week (I’m on yet another vacation right now). In the meanwhile, I’ll review the four goals I actually completed last time.