Sunday, April 28, 2013

Little Hearts

I'm learning that my daughter is a human sponge.  She's watching my every move. Taking in every word that my husband and I say and she's imprinting those words on her heart.

Each night before climbing into bed, we sneak into Mackenzie's room and we pray over her.  And each night before I leave, I whisper into her ear, "You are the best thing that ever happened to me.  Don't forget that".  And then I melt when she climbs into my lap the next morning and whispers, "You know you're the best momma that ever happened to me?"  Literally, some days I am floored that a seemingly sleeping child is hearing my words and that they mean something to her.

And several times a week I smile as I hear my husband ask Mackenzie from somewhere in the next room, "You know you are loved?"  So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me when, while she and I are out grocery shopping, her hand slipped tightly into mine, she looks up at me in the produce aisle and she sweetly says, "Momma?  You know you are loved?"

Because she's a sponge.  She's hearing our words and she's taking them in and they mean something to her.

But just as our positive words are being soaked up, I am reminded daily that, so are our negative words. Last year I was introduced to fellow blogger Jen Bucker.  She is a beautiful mother of two and is an amazing writer.  She has an incredible gift and I hope you will discover her like I have.  While reading one of her posts a while back, she wrote a line that I have not forgotten and it replays in my mind almost daily.

Jen wrote, "Little hearts should not be broken by little things."

Sounds simple enough.  But is it really?

How often do we get overwhelmed by the constant barraging of questions from our babies?  "Mommy, can you help me with..." or "Momma, I went potty in my pants..." Or maybe your baby is so small that he or she hasn't even formulated words yet.  Maybe you hear grunts and whining, accompanied by constant pointing to objects.  And you just want to pull your hair out by the end of the day.

Sometimes, I just cringe at the sound of the word.  "Momma."   And, I just want a break from the responsibility that comes tagged to it.  Like, maybe if I pretend that the shrill sound of my title being shrieked from the next room isn't actually for me....then maybe, (just maybe) I won't have to come to its every beckoning?

How often do we trip over the dress up clothes or stub our toes on the tricycle that is lying out in the middle of the floor?  How often do we hear the sound of a plate clanking from the dining room table and then we wait, shoulders tense and holding our breaths, just knowing that we're about to hear the words, "Uh oh, I spilled...."  And then we're inevitably on our hands and knees picking up stray pieces of macaroni and scrubbing cheese off of the walls.  Huffing and puffing and thinking, "I don't deserve this."

And some days I just snap.  I holler and I yell.   I mutter under my breath, just loud enough for her to hear my frustrations.  I make her smaller than she already is.  I belittle her and I let her know she is an annoyance to me.  And it shows all over her face.  Her already big, blue eyes get even wider and more round and I can just see that something has changed by the way her lips twitch.  For a small second, I am no longer "the best momma that ever happened to me." I've become someone she is afraid of.

And it is then that, in the back of my mind I remember, Little hearts should not be broken by little things.  Sometimes I find myself whispering it deliberately under my breath.  "Little hearts should not be broken by little things. Little hearts should not be broken by little things...." 

And the truth is, maybe that one moment won't actually make a lasting impression on my daughter.  Maybe she will skip off and continue her playtime of princesses and treasure maps. And soon she will have forgotten that mommy was ever upset.  Maybe.

But a friend recently pointed out to me, that we never know the exact point or moment in our child's life when he or she begins to formulate memories.  And what do I really want those memories to be of?  The ones where she is made to feel embarrassed and belittled for simply being a kid?  I hope and pray that those aren't the memories she's making each day.

When I think ahead to the kind of future that I want for my children, I know in my heart that it isn't always going to meet up to my ideal.  One day, my daughter is going to come home from school and she'll be fighting back tears and feeling like she's worth nothing.  Some mean girl will have made a snide comment or a certain boy will have told her she's not pretty enough.  And those days will break my heart as much as they will hers.

But here's what I do hope for on those inevitable days. Rather than my words for her as a baby and as a child, enforcing those feelings of unworthiness as a teenager-- I hope that she will come back to the words we whispered to her in the dark of night while she was sleeping. The words she hears now while she is wearing her princess crown and dancing merrily around our little home.

That, when the mean girl tells her she isn't "cool enough", she'll remember, I am the best thing that ever happened to my momma.  That when the boy she's so desperately seeking a kind word from, isn't giving her the time of day-- she'll remember my husband's words, "You know you are loved?" I hope and pray that our words- of positive affirmation and of love and security, are the words that speak the loudest to her on those terrible days.

Little hearts should not be broken by little things.  Today was a bad day.  I lost my temper this afternoon.  Mackenzie missed her nap and I snapped at all of the little annoyances of my day.  She went to bed crying.  I could be so angry at myself.  And part of me is.  But tonight, I climbed into her little white bed. I pulled her close to me and I whispered, "I'm sorry."  And she whispered right back, "It's okay momma. I love you".
 And I think it is those moments that matter the most.  The willingness as a mother to admit when I've been wrong.  The humility to let my little girl know that even her momma sometimes loses her temper.  And tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will make new choices and I will repeat again those words, little hearts should not be broken by little things.  Little hearts should not be broken by little things.  Repeat.
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  1. Brittany, I love your beautiful honesty. So thankful for your writing and wisdom so that hopefully I'll glean from it!

  2. Beautiful Brittany! I completely agree that the power to apologize for harsh words and mean looks is just as powerful as the sweet words of love. It is those moments where our children learn that nobody is perfect, and that relieves so much pressure from them. They also learn that our love is unconditional. It doesn't matter that we get annoyed, that we yell, that they did something wrong. The love is always there!

  3. Thank you ladies! Your comments mean so much and I love when my writing is an encouragement to another momma!