I am not my best self when my body does not want to be awake. As I have previously established.
The other night. 2 a.m. 3-year-old Maggie appears in my darkened doorway.
MAGGIE: Mommy. I’m firsty.
MOMMY: (rolling over) Maggie, it’s the middle of the night.
MAGGIE: But I’m FIRSTY!
MOMMY: Do NOT wake your brothers! Shhh!
MAGGIE: (sobbing) I’M SO FIRSTY…
MOMMY: (hissing) Stop it! Stop that whining right now! Go back to bed!
MAGGIE: But I–
MOMMY: GO BACK TO BED!
MAGGIE: –I think I have to throw up!
Even then, even then, dear readers, I was not a great mother. “Then get in the bathroom!” I hissed, throwing my covers off and hopping into action.
Then she really did throw up. And God bless her, my little girl made it to the toilet all by herself. Doing as she was told.
I’ve had a few of these moments in my mothering career– most, like I said, when I’m half-awake and really annoyed about it. The least I can do, I figure, is give my kids a true, deep, heartfelt apology, and show them 1) I know I was wrong and 2) it’s good to say you’re sorry.
So I did, at 7 a.m., after getting up four more times with my daughter during the night.
MOMMY: …Maggie, I didn’t mean to be angry at you. I’m really sorry.
Maggie eyed me carefully.
MAGGIE: You yelled.
MOMMY: Yes, I did.
MAGGIE: And you weren’t listening.
MOMMY: No, I wasn’t.
MAGGIE: And that’s not nice.
Then she patted my hand.
Sometimes I wonder who’s the adult around here.