Perspective is a funny thing.
While another mom at the park might see a child vying for your attention and losing, you may see a valiant attempt to send the one work email that could change your career as your toddler repeats, "mom, mom, mama," over and over again and cries and clutches your nugget sauce stained yoga pants leg.
What the cashier at Target may see as poor parenting while your child with behavior disorders has a meltdown by the dollar bins, you know is just their way of letting out all the emotions they cannot articulate but knew well enough to attempt to hold inside for the previous eight hours they've been at school.
We don't always get it right, mamas, but we can usually see the best in any situation when we look for it. No one knows the intricate details of our lives, our child's needs, or even what we've had on our plate in the previous days like we do.
The past two weeks have been less than stellar in the wake of some new developments with our son's extreme behavior. To say I am exhausted beyond measure would earn you all the accolades at the Understatement Awards.
Last night, like most nights, our son woke up around midnight. He'd had a bad dream. After snuggling and tucking him back in, I returned to bed to allow my anxiety to lead me into an hour of tossing, turning, and putting things I'll never buy into my Amazon cart.
I could hear that he was still awake. Instead of getting frustrated, thinking ahead to the likely horrible day we'd have come morning, I chose to change my perspective.
"Hey Buddy," I said as I crept in to where he lay awake on the couch. "Do you want to have a snack and a midnight movie party with mama!?"
His eyes lit up and his smile was bright enough to wake the whole house.
"Are you serious!? This is the best night ever," he whispered full of excitement.
We spent the next hour eating cookies and milk, trying to keep our gigles quiet, and watching 'Heavyweights' because early 90s movies are king.
Just when I was feeling pretty happy with my choices, out came my two year old daughter. "Shhhhhhhh," my son said breathlessly as he placed his index finger to his lips in an effort to stay perfectly still and dodge his sleepwalking sister.
Alas, we'd been spotted.
An hour later, I found myself balancing on the edge of a narrow twin mattress with my son curled around my legs and my toddler's face pressed against mine. Most nights I would be counting the seconds until they went back to sleep so I could get back to my own warm bed.
But last night was different. I made a choice to change my perspective.
I saw the flutter of my daughter's eyelashes. I smiled when her little arm squeezed my neck in a hug. I laid perfectly still as our son wrapped himself around my ankles and legs like a snake clinging to a branch.
Most days, it feels like I might snap if one more grandma smiles at me in the grocery line with my kids at threat level midnight freak out mode and says, "you'll miss this one day." I smile back while thinking to myself, "oh really, Karen!? Cause it feels like I'd give my left arm for coffee and a nap right now!"
But last night? I soaked it up. We ate Oreos and I smiled proudly as my son voluntarily made moon phases out of the creme filling. We laughed at jokes that weren't even funny, and I stayed up until 4am basically having a spontaneous Tuesday night slumber party with my wild kids.
Today we are tired and the coffee will be on auto-refill, but I don't regret seeing things differently.
I hope I can choose, more often than not, to take a breath in the moments of motherhood that could otherwise threaten to break me and choose to change my perspective.
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