It was one of those nights. One of those nights when everyone is exhausted, at the end of their proverbial ropes. My husband was working and I was trying to scrounge up some dinner. And naturally, when all I could use in the world was a few minutes of peace and quiet, my kids started fighting. It was one of those horrible sibling fights with screaming and stomping, toys thrown about, tongues sticking out, doors slammed, and tears shed.
I’m sure it was about something really important, like a particular Lego construction or who got to use a certain marker. You know, those super critical, life-changing, peace in the Middle East kinds of conflicts. Or as I like to call it – Tuesday night.
It wasn’t my best night. I screamed at them to knock it off. I banished them upstairs and then stormed off to the guest room where I felt like I could hide for a few minutes and try to find a little of that quiet I was desperate for.
A few minutes passed and then I could hear their little voices upstairs, suddenly scheming together. There’s nothing like a common enemy to bring two battling sides together. I heard a gentle knock at the guestroom door and a small voice say, “Mommy? We’re sorry.”
When I opened the door, they handed me this:
This little heart-shaped note simply read: “We’re sorry for yelling, fighting, and hitting.” And it included a very helpful emoji giving a thumbs-up.
When I took this little notebook-paper heart from them, my own real heart completely melted. The sweetness of it all made me absolutely crumble. “I’m sorry, too,” I said. “I’m sorry I yelled. I shouldn’t have yelled.”
I shouldn’t have yelled.
I shouldn’t have. The little note made me realize all at once why I was angry. I was angry because I tend to take their fights personally. Every time they get into one of these loud horrible sibling squabbles, it feels like a personal attack on my own need for peace and quiet. It feels like they could care less about my needs and my exhaustion. And then I do the very thing I don’t want them to do – I yell. I yell loudly and forcefully and behave exactly as I have told them not to.
My children have no desire to make me unhappy. They are curious about boundaries, of course. They’d like to know how far they can go before I lose my cool. And they want their own personal autonomy over their own little fiefdoms, which siblings really get in the way of!
My heart melted when I read this note because my children taught me a lot in this moment. They taught me that fighting can be reversed quickly, that apologies can be remedies, and that gentle loving acknowledgments work a lot better than demanding screams. And they taught me that I must be doing at least something right. After all, who did they learn this from?
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