By TMoM Team Member Anna Keller

I shared recently on Instagram about a “unicorn morning” that happened at our house. I dubbed it a unicorn morning because it felt magical, rare, and special. It was a morning where everything went smoothly, and everyone was happy and content (and not a single breakfast item was served in the wrong bowl).

The reality, of course, is it’s a different kind of morning most days. It’s not that they’re bad mornings, they’re just more up and down. My 2-year-old might wake up excited, but things could take a turn if we aren’t having pancakes for breakfast (his eternal request). My 6-year-old may get frustrated when her little brother tries to “help” her with her coloring at breakfast. But then things could swing in the other direction. We could all find ourselves having a dance party in the kitchen or enjoying a book together on the couch.

And this got me thinking about a conversation I had recently with a friend who’s pregnant for the first time. I talked about how there aren’t typically fully good or fully bad days with kids. Most often, they’re a combination of good, challenging, joyful, frustrating, easy, difficult, mundane, exciting… and on and on. In my experience, the day moves quickly between those feelings, making some days feel a bit like a pinball game.

But the thing that tends to make the biggest difference on any given day is how I show up.

After all, as we’ve established, unicorn mornings are rare (and unicorn days even more so). So, waiting around for those to magically happen is doing myself and my kids a disservice. Me being disappointed when mornings or days fall short of unicorn status isn’t serving us either.

If I show up with the right mindset though – throughout the whole day or even in snippets here and there – the vibe starts to shift. Does it make things perfect? Nope. Can it keep an almost-meltdown situation from happening? Sometimes! Does it give me the ability to more fully see and empathize with my kids when they’re having a hard time during the day and respond accordingly? Yes!

And that last part is especially huge.

When I’m able to keep myself regulated, aware, and present enough, I give myself the space and ability to respond thoughtfully and compassionately to my children, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction. I’m not one to snap at them, but I can find myself getting internally frustrated and sometimes pulling away when I’m not in the right headspace. That’s something I’m certain they can sense.

What does that more intentional approach look like? It looks like me sitting quietly on the kitchen floor when my toddler is having a hard time during breakfast, letting him know I’m with him and he can come to me when he’s ready. It looks like me helping my daughter find a different “just for her” activity when she’s annoyed that her brother has gotten into her space too much. It looks like choosing a playful, light response when tension builds between the kids. It looks like lots of physical touch and deep breaths, helping to ground and steady my children.

And so, in this way, I’m kind of the unicorn. Or, rather, I can bring unicorn energy to our lives.

It’s not perfect. It’s not constant. It takes work and awareness.

Most days will still come with so many varying feelings, whether I bring my unicorn energy or not.

And yet it’s so worth it to channel that unicorn energy whenever I can. It can be the difference between me feeling defeated or joyful at the end of a day. Between feeling regret or contentment.

It turns out those unicorn mornings aren’t what I’m chasing after all. Instead, it’s the unicorn energy I’d choose every time. It’s helping me show up as the mother I want to be. It’s helping to change me for the better in the process. It’s powerful and palpable and worth choosing, even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

Turns out maybe certain kinds of unicorns aren’t quite so rare after all…

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