A Reminder That My Kids Are Human Just Like Me

We were making a cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday. My 2 and 4 year old sons were on step stools taking turns arguing over measuring ingredients and the baby was strapped to my chest sleeping through our chaotic attempt at baking. We had just finished mixing the batter and pouring it into a pan, all we had to do was get it into the oven and we were home free. Whew.

The universe must have sensed that the whole process had gone too smoothly because as I stepped over to the sink to grab a towel for wiping sticky hands, my oldest asked, “Can I try some of these chocolate chips?”

“Yes. But hang on just a second and I’ll get them for you,” I said. As the words were coming out of my mouth, he reached over the egg carton, the mixer, and his brother to grab the bag by the unopened end and lift it up excitedly.

I saw it in slow motion as the chocolate chips tumbled out of the open end of the bag, across the counter, and down onto the floor I had just swept that morning.

“Chocolate chips are EVERYWHERE!” my 2 year old cackled while I scrambled to push the dog outside so she didn’t gobble them all up and add Go to the Vet to my long list of things to do that day.

I stared at the mess in an out of body experience as I felt the breaking point of stress wash over me. I wanted to yell, to cry, to say No chocolate chips for you, and no cake for Grandma! I wanted to point out that by 11am we had already cleaned the house, made birthday cards, gone to the store, (did my husband even remember it was his mother’s birthday??), and almost made a cake and if Little Man had just waited for me to get the bag like I said instead of trying to do everything himself there wouldn’t be this huge mess to clean up! But then I saw my sweet boy’s face, frozen in shock, tears welled up in his eyes, and heard his squeaky little voice say, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

And it calmed my overwhelmed heart. I knew that no disapproving lecture would make him feel more guilty than he already did and would only serve to make us both feel worse. I reminded myself that he is just a little person still learning about the world and I thought of how I would want someone to respond if I had spilled the whole bag of chocolate chips. So instead of unloading my stressful morning on a 4 year old who was just a little overzealous with preparing Grandma’s birthday, I gave him a hug and said, “It’s okay. Can you help me clean it up?”

“Okay!” he smiled. I wiped his tears and we had a group effort with the broom and dustpan that was actually sweet and fun in itself.

I wish I could say that I always keep my composure like that, that I don’t ever lose my patience or let my kids see me as the imperfect making-it-up-as-I-go-mama that I am. But this life is a learning process for us all. They get to see their mom be a human working on how to react when things go awry or seem overwhelming. They can learn from me modeling how to apologize and reset when I do lose my cool. And we all get a sweet reminder of the payoff of stepping back, taking a breath, and giving them the grace to be mistake-making humans too.

After all, it was only a thousand few chocolate chips.

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