The boys are being careless and silly. Then, as if in slow motion, the milk comes soaring across the table and spills into my lap. The boys look at me, wide-eyed.
I can feel the steam rising from my feet, all the way up until, out of my mouth, spews forth a comment not kindly spoken and in a voice that is definitely raised.
Mommy just cried over spilled milk.
My kids are sad, and I feel guilty for my wrath. Dripping with milk, I go to my room to change. Then I remember what my mom used to say to me in times like this.
Dear, you need to count to ten.
Apparently I have always struggled with overreacting because I remember her saying that to me. A lot.
But it’s funny that in my parenting journey, I had somehow forgotten the wisdom of those simple words.
Count to ten.
So I’ve started doing that. I’ve started simply counting to ten. And sure enough, my words have been kinder, my demeanor more loving, my voice more calm, my words more carefully chosen.
I count to ten. My words become sweeter to their dear little ears, and my toddler learns a math concept. Everyone wins.