You know how it goes. Some days, you're at the top of your parenting game. You're patient; you're calm. You come up with fun and interesting activities for your children. You laugh with them; you tickle them. You think, Gosh, how did I get so lucky to have such wonderful kids?
And then there are the other days. Maybe you have a headache, or a muscle is twinging in your back, or you feel a cold coming on. Maybe your boss breathing down your neck and you have more work than you can handle. Maybe you're rushing back and forth, work-home-work-home, feeling like you're spread too thin and not doing any of it justice. Maybe you're tired or bored of the monotony that parenting small children can bring. Maybe it's all of those things.
Then there's that one extra thing: the proverbial last straw. The toddler tantrum, the defiant preschooler. The cup of milk spilled too many times. The freakout over some minor thing that, as an adult, you know doesn't really matter. The "no" or "I want" or "I don't like" expressed once too often. And you're done.
You can't summon that calm demeanour. You aren't feeling patient or sympathetic. You're not in the mood for coddling or negotiating. You're just pissed off.
And the worst part is, you can't take back those moments when you yelled instead of reasoned, reacted with frustration instead of understanding. They sit on your shoulder every single day, whispering into your ear, You're doing it wrong. You can do better. You should do better.
Some days, you're the parent you want to be. But most days, you're just a parent.
I can only hope that when my kids are all grown up, they'll remember the good days more than the bad ones.