I don't have bad days anymore. You probably think I'm lying, or crazy, but it's true. I don't.
I have bad moments of course. I'm a stay at home mom with twin toddlers. Believe me, I have bad moments. Like the time that we were late for a doctor's appointment and the boys were fighting and the dog started throwing up on the carpet... yeah. Or the time we were all stir crazy from being stuck inside with back to back colds and my boys decided to draw on the walls when I stepped away for a minute to switch the laundry. Or the time I created an epic double meltdown and hunger strike by committing the cardinal sin of putting the blueberries and the strawberries in the same bowl one morning. At 5am. Moms, you know what I mean.
But still, I don't have bad days. Why not? For me, it started with an essay written Amy Van Dyken-Rouen for the Today Show. As you probably know, she is an Olympic gold medalist who was paralyzed in an ATV accident in June 2014. In the interview, Amy said something that stuck with me:
I have no time or room for an entire day to be a "bad day." I will have bad moments, but to waste an entire day on it isn’t worth it. How would I have felt if my day before my accident was a "bad day" and I didn’t pull through? How would that leave my friends and family? It’s not worth it. Have a bad moment, and move on. -- Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, Today, December 2014.Her words stayed with me. I read them over and over again. And though I know that my daily struggles as a mother are not at all comparable to the challenge she is facing, I felt the sentiment applied strongly to my life.
You see, my dad passed away in March 2014. He died suddenly and unexpectedly from a blood clot. The day he died was shaping up to be one of those bad mom days. My boys were driving me crazy and not napping when they should be when my phone rang. I could have ignored the call because I was annoyed, or I could have answered and complained about my day. Instead, I picked up and talked to my dad, telling him all the funny things I could hear and see the boys doing on the monitor when they were supposed to be sleeping. We laughed, and I told him I loved him and he said he loved me. That was the last time I ever talked to him.
If I had chosen to have a bad day, our last conversation would have been much different. I was having a bad moment, but I moved on and had a wonderful last chat with my dad. Amy's words reminded me of this, and I vowed from then on not to allow myself to have a bad day.
So how do I do it?
It's not easy, but I've picked up a few strategies that definitely help.
Step Away and Breathe
This is so simple but so hard to do in the moment. When I'm having a bad moment, I always try to catch myself (hopefully before I've lost my cool but not always) and take a deep breath. If I need to, I step out of the room and give myself a few moments alone. Literally the time it takes to count to 10 can be enough. Sometimes I am that woman in the Target parking lot doing yoga breathing outside her minivan while 2 kids are inside screaming but it works. Take a moment, close your eyes, and breathe. It will help.
Find Your Mantra
When I'm having a bad moment, I repeat to myself, This is a moment. It will pass. It will not define my day. It will not define me. Over and over again. This helps bring me back to the fact that moments are fleeting, and though it is hard to remember when you are in the middle of it, it will pass and it will get better.
Let It Go
We all have those bad mom moments when we lose our temper, yell, or react in a way that we don't want to. It's OK. We all do. But what do you do next? If you beat yourself up and dwell on it, you will have a bad day. Instead, acknowledge it, apologize sincerely to your kids (or spouse or whoever), and let it go. Go back to your mantra - this bad moment does not define you as a mother. It is a moment, it has now passed, and it's time to move on.
Find Your Village
I would not have survived the past year without a strong network of friends and family supporting me. Everyone needs someone to call when the bad moments hit, when you need to vent your frustrations so that you can let them go. Being a mom, especially if you stay home with your kids, can be very isolating. Find your village and get the support you need. Making friends is not always easy but it is always worth it. I found an amazing group of women through my local library's story time program, and they are my village. I can not tell you how many times I have turned to them to complain or cry and how I welcome them to do the same to me when they are struggling. Learning that you are not alone in your mom moments makes them so much more bearable.
Going back to the day my dad died, I chose to laugh instead of being aggravated at my boys' nap time shenanigans. It doesn't always work, but if you take a step back, sometimes the things your kids are doing that drive you insane are actually quite hilarious. When you can find the humor in the situation do it. Life is short. Take the fun moments when you can.
Like I said, this hasn't been easy but it is working for me. At the end of every day, I write down a thought or quote from the day in my Mom's Memory a Day Journal and I can always find something positive that made me happy. I refuse to let myself have a bad day because you never know what life will bring, so you have to embrace the good moments and release the bad. My dad taught me this, and I hope to teach it to my sons. As my dad loved to say, "Today is a good day, even if it rains."
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