We were running late. It was my fault. I didn’t have uniforms ready (because I thought the purchase of seven outfits was an awesome idea because I had a few leftover, but if you don’t wash them on the right cycle, you end up with pants and no shirt or vice versa *sigh*). I scooped up her freshly laundered nap pallet and special blanket. Oh, wait. Let me put some barrettes in your hair so it doesn’t get in your face. Ugh. Where is the water bottle. Right here. Let me fill up her clean water bottle because of course there must be ice in the bottle. Okay, okay… I think I have everything.
Nope. As we drive down the street, Nana reminds me that I forgot to give her vitamins.
I’m sorry babe. No vitamins this morning. Tomorrow, ok?
For most kids, this probably wouldn’t me much of an issue. But, since I have a food-focused child, missed opportunities to get something that she considers a food item are PROBLEMS. So…tears. And now Mommy, who was already running on high-anxiety to get out of the door, is grrrrr…
Then Nana doesn’t take a nap at school. In fact, the teacher says she is disruptive. The Robinsons don’t do disruptive.
Now both Mommy and Daddy are grrrrr….
Stern words. Tears.
Things settled down a little throughout the afternoon and dinner but by the end of the night, she was clearly dysregulated. She wouldn’t play her normal games. She was swinging back and forth between being extremely hyper and extra dramatic. There were tears at every bump or fall. Tickles were too hard. The music was too loud. I don’t want to sit with Daddy, I want to go in there with Mommy.
wah, Wah, WAH!
By now both the Hubster and I are looking at the clock. She’s clearly tired. We are tired of comforting, hugging and rocking for every little thing. Is it close enough to bedtime?
Alright, time for bed. Go ahead and begin to clean up your room.
Tears. Sobs. Complete and total breakdown.
I’m exhausted and just don’t have a single thread of comfort in me. You know that last nerve. That crying is jumping all over it, strangling it, kicking it over and over again.
In silence, I clean up her room. I sit in the chair, pull her onto my lap, rub her arms and rock her. I’m faking it. She still cries. She can tell that there is no real comfort there.
I stand her up and maneuver her to the bathroom. I brush her teeth. I sit her on the toilet. I take off her clothes and put on her pajamas. She is sobbing the entire time.
Have you listened to a child cry unfettered? Especially when you are at a point when you are just emotionally exhausted to give solace.
I lay her in bed and sit down next to her. This beautiful, lively, typically happy child is just so sad and I don’t understand why. This isn’t normally how she acts. There has to be something else going on.
Did you have a bad day?
With a poked out lip and eyes welling up, she nods her head. A fresh supply of mommylove comes from somewhere deep within.
Do you want to tell me about it?
Another head nod. And then a litany of slights poured out.
Today I fell down. We were doing an earthquake drill and Quinn and I ran into each other and then I bumped my head.
That sounds awful. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Are you okay?
Yes, but my arm was hurting all day. She shows me her oak mite bites. I kiss her arm and put some hydrocortisone on her bites.
Now she’s no longer sad. In fact, she’s getting a little upset as she remembers her day.
And Mommy. You know what else? Nobody would play with me today. When I try to play with them they all ran away. And then they put me in jail.
She describes a game where they hold hands and don’t let someone out of the circle.
And then James put all my pretend rings at the top of the fence so I couldn’t reach them.
This made me giggle (on the inside because on the outside I had on my concerned Mommy face). I mean, how do you let someone else take your pretend toys? Couldn’t you just pretend that you got them off the fence? Luckily, it was something that I could fix.
Well, you know what. I have some rings just for you.
I reach into my pocket, bring out two handfuls of (imaginary) rings, and proceed to put them on her fingers.
Look! This one is red, and this one is purple.
Those aren’t real rings! She crosses her arms and begins to pout.
Oh, well give them back. I’ll put them on and wear them myself.
No, no. I want them. I like this one, Mommy.
I load up her fingers with rings. I push a ton of bracelets on her wrist and show her how to shake her arms so they would make noise. And then finally, I give her the best thing of all. I fasten a beautiful necklace around her neck with a huge ruby pendant.
We both sit back and admired her fabulous (imaginary) jewelry.
James can’t take these rings because Mommy gave them to you.
She smiles and settles down under the covers. Can I wear my jewelry to bed?
Of course. *deep exhalation*
I am so not a perfect mother. I put that all out on this blog for other folks to learn from my missteps. But I am eternally grateful for spending those eight months focused on attaching to Nana. I can imagine another point in time where there would be no restoration or an injection of mommylove to help me be patient and listen to her hurts. Yes, there are many points in that day where I could have done better, but I’m glad I showed up when I did.
Parenting is hard work…