It has been kind of rough around these parts with Zachary lately. He was practicing Delightfulness for months, and we were starting to think we could get used to having a three-year-old around. But, because we have big mouths and could not stop ourselves, we started talking about the move in front of him, and now he is a big ball of anxiety. Now, no matter how much I explain that we will not move for awhile and he will have friends in his new school, he ain’t buying.
Sometimes, he voices his concerns directly. “I don’t want to move. I want to be here for Halloween so I can go trick-or-treating with Caspar.” Or, shockingly, “I don’t want to leave Timmy.” (Dude, I have no problem leaving Timmy.) I cuddle him and explain we will all be there with him. I read him The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day constantly. I know how to deal with direct concerns.
Most of the time, however, Zach uses a time-tested technique to express his discontent. He whines. Sometimes, he screams and cries.
Now, I know I am lucky to have a three-year-old who can and will ever tell me the exact source of his feelings. I know that obnoxiousness is par for the course with an anxious pre-schooler. I just wish he weren’t so darned good at it.
So it was that one morning last week, waking up to find his father still traveling and me still working and the world not spinning at exactly the speed he would like, Zach was in a fragile mood. As I took him to the bathroom, before getting Benjamin out of his crib, I found myself already saying to Zach, “If you are too tired not to whine, I will put you back into bed.” He stopped and we went back into the boys’ bedroom. And I opened the blinds. Zach likes to help open the blinds. And I callously opened them on my own because, contrary to popular opinion, I am imperfect and sometimes I cannot keep the entire script of the World According to Zachary in my head.
Zach let out a moanscream and started with the hysteria, screamcrying and running over in protest. I picked him up, dropped him back onto his bed, lifted Ben out of his crib, and left, shutting the door behind me. I changed Ben’s diaper and took him down to breakfast. Three minutes later, I heard a whimpering at the top of the stairs. “Mommy? I am ready.” A slightly shaken but otherwise composed three-year-old joined us at the table.
What is my point in all of this, other than that only morons talk about a move more than three weeks beforehand to a small child? My point, and it is a significant one, is that nine months ago I would have yelled at him. Or, I would have let him get his way without first composing himself. Or, I would have fumed on about it for twenty minutes.
Whatever I would have done, I would definitely have spent the entire day feeling like my childhood had predisposed me to be an inadequate mother. I would have been sure that most of the problem had been manufactured by me. My insecurity would have fueled me to either be too stern or too lax as the day wore on. By nighttime, Zach would have been confused, I would have been frustrated, and we both would have been exhausted.
But, for the last nine months, I have been writing. Writing here. And you have been responding, telling me that sometimes even parents who had lovely childhoods get frustrated. You have been reassuring me that much of what I feel has nothing to do with twenty-five years ago and everything to do with twenty-five seconds ago. You have helped me regain confidence as a wife, a writer, a mother, and a person.
So, when Amy awarded me this…
…I was floored. The fact is, I feel like I give so much less than I take here in the blogosphere. I am grateful to each and every one of you for the hand you have held out to me as I have walked these miles. And, so, while I pass it on to a few of you, please know that each and every one of you deserves it more than I could possibly find words to say. Without further ado, six people who have left poignant comments, sent supportive emails, and basically been there every freaking step of the way:
Honestly, it was almost impossible to break it down to this group, but I know if I list too many, no one will click over. I hope that some of you will click over to the blogs of these amazing women and become friends with them, because they have so very much to offer.
Thank you all.