Someone I love sent me this piece from The New Yorker this morning. I got it after a nearly-two-hour experience in the pediatrician’s office, which ended with me trying to peel my middle child off their front door when it was time to go. What kind of kid wants to STAY at the doctor’s office?!
Oh, wait. I know. A three-year-old. Because nothing with a three-year-old makes sense.
I’m reporting to you from the trenches. And I could go into a tirade about who snotted on my one pair of clean yoga pants today or why bath and bed time has me wanting to rock in a corner, clutching vodka … but I won’t. You already know that parenthood is hard; the highs are always followed by lows that we get through by telling ourselves “everything is a phase.”
But everything is.
Maverick got a little wound up in the days following Halloween. All that extra red dye # 40 did a number on him, apparently. After a particularly long and difficult day, I finally said that he was going to bed early. He got mad, I got mad, we both dug in. I ended up dragging him to his room after reminding him in the living room who was in charge.
I gave him time to calm down and then tried to talk it over, but he was so angry and he just kept yelling that I was a horrible mommy — a very bad mommy — and he wished I belonged to someone else. “I understand that you’re upset with me,” I said as I covered him up. “But I am glad I belong to YOU.”
He replied with an angry noise.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re doing the right thing. I’m all the time wondering if I’m too hard on them or not hard enough. Am I respected? Am I a doormat? I’m a fairly self-assured person, but I find motherhood to be discombobulating.
The next morning, Maverick crept into our bed at 6:15. It was still dark out, and I was fumbling around for my glasses when I heard him say the following words. I hope I never forget them, because it was the sweetest apology that has ever come out of that boy’s mouth.
“Mommy? I’m so sorry I yelled at you last night. You’re a good mommy and I love you. I really love you. And you know what else? I really WAS tired, like you said. I konked right out after you left! Man, I was tired. I feel better now. You know what I was thinking? Maybe I could go make you some coffee. I know how much sugar to put in it, and Daddy showed me how to use the Keurig. I’ll be really careful.”
Speechless. I still tear up when I think about it.
I struggle. We all do. And sometimes, yes, it’s even barefoot in the snow like the essay from The New Yorker suggests. That would be a low point. But the highs … they are so, so sweet. Just like my coffee.