I had finished my groceries shopping and was leaving the mall to go home when I saw a family of four walking in front of me. The father was pushing the stroller while the mother had a baby girl in a carrier she was wearing. A little boy who looked like he is about four years old walked beside the mother. Because of the stroller, the father walked towards the ramp at the side while the mother and children walked down the short flight of stairs. With my stroller, I followed behind the father.
As the father approached the bottom of the ramp, the little boy jumped out and shouted “Boo!” The father laughed and they continued on their way home.
“So cute,” I thought.
The next moment, I realized that what the little boy did was probably what my five-year-old daughter would have done. I also realized that more than half the time, my reaction might have been, “Stop it!” or “Don’t block the way” instead of laughing off her playfulness.
Why is it that my reaction to another child doing the same playful thing as my own child is so different?
On that note, I realize that I probably flare up at my poor daughter more than she deserves.
A lot of times, she needs my help for something and she repeatedly calls “Mummy… Mummy… Mummy…” to get my attention. The problem comes when she catches me at a busy moment or if something had ruined my mood prior to her calling out to me.
On a good day, my response would be, “Yes?”
On the many not-so-good days, my response would be, “WWWHHHAAATT?!” And then I would catch the slightly hurt look on my daughter’s face.
Thinking about it now, my poor daughter must be so confused at my difference in responses. To make it worse, sometimes she wants my attention because she wants to show me something she has made. She is looking for my affirmation but gets shot down by my short-fuse instead.
Perhaps what I need to do is to make extra effort to catch myself before the “WWWHHHAAATT?!” comes out from my mouth. Take a deep breath, count to five in my mind, close my eyes for two seconds, whatever it is that stops me from giving my daughter a negative response when she doesn’t deserve one.
Juggling the daily needs of my five-year-old daughter and my 16 months old son has shortened my fuse but it certainly isn’t fair to both of them. I do realize though, that on days when I get enough sleep and rest, I am not as short-tempered. So perhaps it’s time to end my nights earlier instead of sitting around for too long after the kids go to bed.
It’s time to look at how I manage my me-time too.