Gentle Hearts

I am the first to admit that I am tough on my girls.

On the days when I am firm in my resolve, the rule is one warning and then the consequences. And if it means the big one misses out on a fun time at the park because the little one is a terror, well so-be-it.  If I miss out on seeing my mom friends at a playdate, well life isn't fair.

I can take it all--the complaints that I am mean, unfair and not nice. ) I can take the tears (and occasional fit of hysteria).  I can take it, because in my heart I know I am parenting my children the way they need to be parented.

But then we had lunch.

The big one was whining about some nonsense related to the grill marks on her grilled cheese and the little one was shaking her juice and laughing.  I asked the big one to stop and to eat. I took the little one's cup. The little one began laughing and pointing to the big one in mockery. The big one cried and wailed. Then the little one spit out her sandwich and laughed.

Seriously. (they look so adorable in photos).

And, as I choked on my perfect BLT (which had a bite missing from Henry, our dog), I lost it.

My tirade was loud, mean and mostly loud. I am certain I was purple. It included screaming. Eye bulging. And stomping (I seem to have these fits at the dinner table, quite frequently).

Then both girls were quiet. Silent. And I saw big tears fall from Lily's eyes onto her plate. Big, silent tears. Silent, heart breaking, earth shattering tears. The real deal. My heart broke. My rage seemed like a bad dream.

Of course, I hugged her. Hugged them both--the big and the little, my darlings.

My gentle hearted girl--with all her bravado and drama--she is tender. All children are tender, gentle souls who require gentle voices. They require gentle voices when they are at their most wild--when their misbehavior is the most egregious, when they are completely out of control.

My hug was like a blanket of calm on all three of us.

What I learned today--something my mother taught me long, long ago--kill them with kindness, hug them until your arms hurt and above all, be gentle--hearts are a fragile thing.