good parenting days/bad parenting days

When my children were little - particularly with the first two - if I had a day or two where everything went wrong and children were whining and I felt like throwing myself into bed at 7pm, I wondered if I was failing as a parent.

Now that they are older (14, 11 and 8), I am resigned to the fact that part of the natural flow of family life is that there will be good days and bad days as a parent. And often, I cannot figure out why some days go better than other days.

Yesterday I was tired. I woke up in a rather inexplicable bad mood and didn't really shake it all day. Harold Ford, Jr was supposed to appear on the talk show I produce and a scheduling problem on their end left me without a guest and seriously irritated.

The children, when I finally got them home at 7:15 pm, were all in weird moods. Henry was hyper and picking at his sibs. Elliot whined and was lazy. Jane wanted to stay in her room most of the evening. And I didn't deal with it that well. I felt overwhelmed by the mounting pile of clean laundry now piled on the dining room floor. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff we need to get done to the house. Basically, I just felt crummy.

But nowadays, I know that this too shall pass. I breathe through the bad parenting days way better than I did in the past, when I would feel the need to cajole and convince the children to improve their moods. Now I mostly ignore them when they act like this.

And then this morning, almost magically, they all seemed to wake up in a fine mood. We had to leave for school early today and no one complained. No one was late. We all had interesting, pleasant discussions in the car. Jane happily loaned Henry the iPod earphones he asked for. He thanked her politely. Elliot asked clever questions about what we were listening to about Iraq on NPR. We talked politics some. Jane asked whether God would be a Republican or Democrat and that led to some back and forth on Buddha and Jesus and the nature of the afterlife. Henry shared his views on astral projection (!!!).

So today has started better. But I know that could change later today, like the weather. But mostly I just don't sweat it any more and instead try to be actively conscious of how nice the fun, pleasant parenting moments are.

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