The buzzing cell phone sends shudders up my spine.
We are facing another snow day, with endless cabin fever, demands for entertainment, sibling squabbles, and screaming children covered in damp clothes.
Couple this with the perks of working remotely, and you have a recipe for a very, very long day. My husband hugs me farewell as he braves the slick roads and Southern drivers on his way to the office. “You know, this isn’t really snow,” he mentions, citing his New England upbringing. “You’ll be just fine.”
Hoping to find solace in a few friends dreading this day, I open up social media. Instead of finding a haven, my mind heads right back down a lane all too familiar to most parents: guilt. It seems as though everyone I see treasures these times, where they are forced to slow down and enjoy a long, luxurious day with their children, free from the everyday demands that define the rest of the school year.
If other parents are smiling on skis and making snow angels, why I am pulling my hair out before lunch?
And then, further down the path of guilt, I worry that my children will only have memories of a cranky, overwhelmed mother. Not graceful pictures captured in the snow, but a frazzled, frustrated grouch.
“Don’t worry Mom, we’ll put wine in your snow cone.” My second grader can certainly read my body language.
I should also mention that my irritation is not reserved for snow days alone. I am also not a fan of Halloween, theme parks, or camping. Maybe my friends should write me off as less fun than a visit to the gynecologist, because I was starting the think of myself that way.
But I caught myself, wondering if this list of dislikes extends, in some fashion, to all parents.
I’m beginning to realize that guilt may be overshadowing what we contribute to our children, which is certainly not its place. Every parent has gifts that they bring to their family, and though our own perceptions may influence us otherwise, I believe that finding irritation in some moments of childhood should not shame us into feelings of inadequacy.
In case my children hadn’t realized it already, trudging through our snow days, or their more tropical equivalent, shows our humanity. By giving permission, in front of our children, to not treasure and love every moment, they can see that their childhood, much like the rest of life, isn’t always ideal. They can grow in grace, knowing that we all face moments we don’t enjoy, and see how to work their way through it.
Our children can learn that we still value their presence and our relationship; we just prefer it under different conditions. In our house, that’s minus snow boots and arguments over the ratio of marshmallows to hot chocolate. Even if we aren’t in love with all parts of parenting, we can rest in the blessed assurance that we are all contributing to their childhood.
Instead of falling down the abyss of guilt for every moment I’m wishing time away, I will choose to focus on what I do contribute, and treasure those moments. I haven’t met a parent yet who doesn’t have some piece of life with their children that they could do without. Even if those parents can dye green eggs and ham and serve it with a smile on their face.
If we can foster a bit of confidence in ourselves, and know that, even in the moments we dread, we are still excellent parents, we just might demonstrate the grace to our children we want them to extend to themselves. We can take steps away from entitled feelings that parents should be expected to love every minute of their childhood, and focus instead on the gifts we bring to enrich their lives.
And in those moments, our children are truly blessed.
This post originally appeared on The Today Show Parenting Team in February 2020.