I had one of those mornings. It didn’t start well. Luke who is normally the late sleeper awoke at 5:30 screaming and in turn woke up Hannah who came running into our room frenzied that he was crying and no one was getting him. (In my half asleep state I guess I was hoping he would scream himself back to sleep). He screamed and screamed and she whined and whined that he needed me and I should be getting him. I looked at him through half opened eyes in the monitor and saw that he was only minutes away from hurling himself over the edge of the crib so I sleepily hoisted myself out of bed, meandered down the dark hall behind worried Hannah and opened the door to screaming Luke’s room. The door wasn’t even fully ajar when I heard him squealing “Hi! Hi! Hi!”. Far too excited for 5:37 am. I brought him back to my bed knowing full well that my squirmy son would sit for about 13 minutes of Wow Wow Wubbzy before he would flip onto his belly and start sliding his way feet first off the bed and make a bee line for the stairs ready for breakfast. “Cuddling” is not in his vocabulary. Neither is “Sitting Still” or “Relaxing”.
Needless to say, the early start put me in a super cranky, impatient mood. Everything and everyone was annoying me. Hannah was beyond exhausted by 7:30 am and was fighting me and pushing my sanity to the limit. My vision of a beautiful, snow activity filled Sunday was slipping from view. We wanted to go sledding but everything I suggested she wear was too itchy, too tight, too uncomfortable or too hot. I was losing patience. I snapped at her more than once. I was throwing out dirty looks, rolling my eyes and causing even more tears to fall. I had a 36 pound koala-girl wrapped around my leg as I tried to get dressed in my closet and a 25 pound parrot-boy repeating every yelp and scream that came out of Hannah’s mouth thinking it was all a big game. All three of us were yelling in one form or another and Tim looked on, trying to calm the situation that was beyond saving. If half a foot of snow hadn’t just been dumped on the street, I probably would have shook myself free of everyone, jumped into my car and driven off.
But I didn’t. Instead I took a deep breath, lowered myself down to the ground in my closet where Hannah laid sprawled amid the shoes and bags, and hugged her. I told her I understood she’s tired because Luke woke her up so early. I told her that she just needed to stop crying and we’d figure out how to get her dressed comfortably. I rubbed her back, stroked her hair and told her we’d make this a perfect day after all. And she looked at me, hair sticking to her face and cheeks still wet with tears and said, “Mommy, You’re like a Super Hero”.
“I’m like a super hero? Why?” I asked with a huge smile spreading across my face.
“Because super heros can make anyone feel better. They always save people. They do everything right. And that’s what you do.”
And I melted. Right then and there, in my messy closet. I melted. What a reminder of why I am able to do this job day in and day out. Why I haven’t dedicated any substantial amount of time to finding any consulting work to get out of the house a few hours a week. It was the best Thank You I ever could have imagined one of my children (or anyone for that matter) saying.
You may know if you’ve read my blog for a while that I give in to Hannah’s emotional demands “too”quickly. I don’t walk away from her when she throws tantrums. I’m not always consistent and don’t always follow through when I threaten a punishment if she’s behaving badly. I struggle with being a strong mom instead of a good friend. I’m working on it. I’m getting better at setting stricter rules but have a ways to go. I don’t pride myself on being a strict, limit setting mom but, on the other hand, I am very confident that I can always make my kids feel good. Feel better. I always know what words to say to ease their pain, what hug to give to make Hannah feel happy and calm. I know many times I should be walking away, ignoring her, not giving in, but when I know all that’s needed are my arms wrapped around her, even if she doesn’t deserve it, I do it.
I do it because I don’t know how long it will be requested. When Hannah is 12 I don’t know if she’ll want, or even need, a hug from mommy to ease her pain. I do it because I want her to feel safe. To feel understood. I do it because I know it’s what I would want. When tears are flowing, I want someone to do or say SOMETHING. Not to step around me and let me figure it out on my own. Not to get angry that I’m crying. Not to teach me a lesson.
And I was reminded today, on the floor of my closet, that my choice to DO something, even when others think I’m too soft, is worth it. Because I’m a Super Hero. And I’ll take that over being a “strong” mom any day.
Anyone have a cape I can borrow?