When we pulled up back at the house, Bryson and I spent 5 minutes in the car. I asked him to sit in my lap. I apologized. I cried. I said “I wasn’t the best mom I could be just then. I was hot, and frustrated, and angry. I shouldn’t have ignored you.”
His response was “I’m sorry I whined. I love you.” He lifted his hand and he wiped away my tear (as he said “crying is making you sweat.”)
He then said, “You’re my best mommy.”
Who’s the parent here? I should be wiping his eyes when he’s crying… or as pinterest loves to remind us all… “There are seven sure-fire ways to make your kid not cry.” I should know those. All seven.
I’d gotten in my head that a trip to the local canal trail would be worth while, considering it’d been awhile since we had been. Last night, we bought a few nurf guns but after the hustle and bustle that was our evening, we came home a little to late to try them out. So, I promised we test them out “tomorrow.” I thought we could make our own targets. So this morning we made our way into the kitchen for dinosaur eggs (oatmeal with candy eggs) and an apple. We spent breakfast discussing the plan. We decided on making some dinosaurs. (Dinosaurs are shoot-worthy, especially a T-rex. Mom win 1.)
Post-breakfast, he ran off to his room where he “got dressed” as he was intructed… technically speaking. (his attire to be discussed later) Meanwhile, I gathered the guns, a few boxes I had lying around, glue sticks, construction paper, siccors, and bottled water. I threw it all in the trunk of my little blue honda, waites patiently for him to meander to the car and climb in, drove to the nearest entrance to the trail, got out, grabbed the stuff, and we took off.
Not two seconds into the 5 minute walk, Bryson was whining.
1. He was “too hot” (he was wearing an avengers costume, despite my persistence that it probably wasn’t the best idea for where we were going.)
2. He can’t “carry this stuff.” This stuff being a shield (the costumes Captain America) I told him to leave in the car and one of the nurf guns (the smallest one, the one he demanded he’d carry but advised me I would actually be using.)
3. It’s “too slow” and it’s “taking too long.” Mind you, he’s the one walking at the speed of smell, dropping what he’s carrying so I know I that it is just too much for him to endure, and moaning ‘mommy’ before picking it up and trying to catch up.
4. And I was “leaving” him “too far.” – refer to statement 3.
After several stops, we make it to the spot I had planned, sweating beading from our faces. We both drink a little water and we sit down to begin the crafting venture… …
“The boxes are too small”
“I really just want to ride the dinosaur”
“I haven’t gotten to shoot”
“I’m too tired.”
All before the first target is even cut out.
(In his defense, the location I chose was lacking in the shade department and for a town that’s been feeding us winter weather in June, today was unusually hot.)
I pleaded with him to be patient. I asked him in the kindest voice I could muster to stop whining. I reminded him he was a big boy. I encouraged his cutting and gluing skills. I commended his knowledge of shapes. Nonetheless, Every notion was met with resistant whines. Finally, I suggested he just practice shooting while I made the targets…
In his deepest screech of a cry, accompanied by foot stomping and dramatic hand gestures, my suggestion was met with, “I can’t shoot without targets!”
I was done. I’d begged. I’d pleaded. I’d given in. I’d uplifted. I’d tried patience. I’d tried reminders. I was hot, too. My plan was a bust. I was disappointed and discouraged. So, I did what any sweaty, frustrated, normal person would do. I gave up. I threw everything into the biggest box, stood up, and began walking to the car. He followed, now crying. (Refer to 1-4 and input actual tears and the occasional out burst of “I dont want to go! No.”) We got to the car, I didn’t say a word. Everything went in the trunk with an aggressive shove and a salm. Bryson, with much protest, got into his seat. I put the car in reverse. I didn’t speak… not a single word… the whole way home.
I had failed.
I spent the whole ride home thinking about just how bad I’d failed. How I wanted today to be different, new, fun. What four year old boy doesn’t want to shoot at dinosaurs? I thought it’d be cool. Maybe my patience was too thin and maybe I was too quick to anger. I thought about how I can’t seem to get through to him the whining doesn’t work. I puzzled over how it was then 12 o’clock, we still needed to eat lunch, the house was a mess, and we’d just wasted 30 minutes we could’ve spent doing something else we’d enjoy. He still needed a nap. How could he eat, and nap, and we still have time to play? When was I going to clean the house? Shoot… I still have to wash a shirt for work! Did I start the washing machine with his sheets in it? Where’s he going to nap if his sheets are still in the wash? We shoukdve woken up before 9… he probably won’t be ready for a nap.
I beat myself up. The whole way home. We pulled up and I put the car in park and we sat there.
As he wiped the tear from my cheek, I wondered… how many other moms were sitting in their drive ways thinking they were having a shitty mom day? How many other moms feel like throwing in the towel? How many other moms think we should just go back to sleep and try again tomorrow?
I just want to say, to any mom saying “tomorrow,” I get it.
Raising a 4 year old who is as persistent and demanding as he is cute and funny… is maddening.
You, like me, will some times FEEL like you’ve failed. How could you not?
Today’s world demands we be a mom and a wife and work a job. We’re to be excessivly creative, crafty, witty, happy, chipper, up before dawn, to sleep after dark, with our sinks shined, and the laundry folded, and tomorrow’s breakfast in the crockpot, and tomorrow’s dinner pulled from the fridge. We should work out for 20 minutes on odd days and 40 minutes on even days, and our hair is always done, our makeup without flaw, our fridges are stocked, and the craft closet should be bursting with ideas for that quick perfect afternoon art project or idea that will not only entertain but teach our little ones, who will of course indulge in such activity with no resistance or difficulty…..
The reality is. It’s now 2:30 pm. Bryson has just laid down for a nap, an hour later than normal. We played outside and danced to a video before he laid down. I have no idea what I’ll do for dinner. I’m in bleach stained jeans and Marc’s t-shirt. My hairs in a bun (and not the cute, messy kind.) I haven’t worn makeup since Thursday. There’s four loads of laundry haunting me. And Bryson and I still never shot his nurf guns at any kind of target, crafted or otherwise.
And that is OK!
Bryson’s personality and character won’t be the sum of my actions today. He’s made of more than just one day. The lessons I’m teaching him, the things I am showing him, the TIME we spend together will far outweigh today. When he looks back on his childhood, the five minute, silent walk from a spot on the canal trail won’t be what plays in his mind. Right?
After his nap, I’ll have made some pretty cool targets. I’ll let him slap a few circles or squares on what I’ve created and commend him for all his hard work. We’ll aim and we’ll shoot and we’ll laugh… we might miss, but I’ll teach him that’s ok, to try again. And then we’ll probably go pick up take-out. The clothes will wait until tomorrow or whenever I get to them and… I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
For better or for worse, I’m Bryson’s mom. In the mistakes, in the moments of madness, and in the midst of the hugs. He and I…. we’ll be just fine.
So, do what I am doing. Take a deep breath. You haven’t failed. I’m telling you, take it from my four-year-old. “You’re -his/hers/their- best mommy.