Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 05-06-2012
Saturday was a hard day. The kind of hard that only results from a culmination of…things.
The day started with a declaration of war against my closet. I am in between maternity clothes and my pre-baby size. I’ve got a whopping 12 lbs to lose before I can squeeze my muffin top back into my Rock & Republic’s.
Once I finally talked myself out of my uniform of sweats and a nursing tank, we made our way to the park for a good friend’s birthday party. The afternoon was an emotional dichotomy between appreciating the forging of forever friendships, and accepting that still others have run their course. I left the party both thankful for my soul sisters, as well as disappointed in myself for allowing my defenses to drape me in coldness toward those latter friendships. An air of sorrow began to follow me through the remainder of the day.
That evening ended at my aunt’s house for a 25th wedding anniversary. It was wonderful to be around family, celebrating the kind of love that withstands the test of time. The deep sadness I had been feeling was elevated as I popped stuffed mushrooms and thinly sliced prosciutto into my mouth – laughing and catching up.
We got home late, way past DJ’s bedtime, and much to our dismay (and shock) – she hadn’t fallen asleep in the car. We knew we were in for a challenging bedtime, but neither of us could have predicted the horrific tantrum that ensued.
Because we had been on the road for an hour, Bitzy (previously referred to as “Z”) was hungry. I immediately started feeding her when we got home, so it was up to Daddy to get DJ to bed – which she objected to, strongly. I opted to remain in Bitzy’s room behind closed doors because 1) I just don’t think it’s fair that Bitzy hardly ever has an uninterrupted meal, and 2) because the hubs and I have agreed that DJ can’t look only to me to meet her needs. We just can’t give into her “Parental Preference” fits simply because it’s less stressful than hearing her cry.
The tantrum reached the 10 minute mark, then the 15, and soon the 20 minute mark. I was totally bewildered. I was equally impressed with the hubs’ patience. I felt my blood pressure rising as DJ’s shrieking continued on….30 minutes. Bitzy finally stopped nursing and I felt my body rise out of my glider and march into DJ’s bedroom. In one fell swoop, I handed Bitzy to my husband and fell to my knees at DJ’s feet. I started bawling my eyes out, and she froze. Silence fell across her room for the first time in nearly 40 minutes.
“Look at Mommy’s tears. Look at me. Do you see how sad I am? I am crying because you are freaking out. I am crying because you’re not listening to daddy. I am crying because your sister doesn’t deserve this stress. I am crying because I’m exhausted. I am crying because I work so hard for you and then you act like this. Do you see Mommy’s tears? This is not ok. I’m not ok.” It all came pouring out, and I cried even harder the moment I realized that I was treating my toddler as my therapist. I try so hard to be her mom, rather than her friend. I try so hard to keep her world preserved in age-appropriate topics. Oh boy, I was blowing it.
Or was I?
DJ grabbed a blanket off her bed and climbed into my lap. With a corner of the flannel Tinkerbell material, she slowly wiped my eyes dry while repeating, “It’s ok, Mommy. It’s gonna be ok.” We fell into a strong embrace, both apologizing and exchanging heartfelt apologies. DJ was forgiving and compassionate beyond her years. And, within a moment, we went from being completely at odds with one another, to being more connected than we had been in days.
As I tucked DJ snugly into bed without objection, she clung to my neck and squeezed tightly, whispering ” You’re the best mommy ever.” I broke again. That little lady teaches me my most valuable lessons in life. I wound up her ballerina music box and walked out.
My husband met me outside DJ’s door with open arms. He hugged me tightly as a muted “Swan Lake” melodiously enveloped us. “I’m sorry I barged in. You were being so patient with her. I just thought she needed to see me. Like this.”
I’m still not sure if I did the right thing. I’ve thought a lot about it since then, and here’s what I’ve concluded: Our children need to know how they effect others. They need to learn that their behavior is not contained to just them. They need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They need to know how to accept responsibility for hurting others. They need to learn how to apologize, how to dry tears, and how to deal with being at the crux of someone’s disappointment. And, they need to learn how to forgive.
I am not claiming that my very spontaneous outburst taught DJ all of these lessons on the spot, but I am saying that I exposed her to a little part of life that can sting in big ways. She is learning how to cope with tough interactions in the safety of our home, of my arms, my unconditional love. I am so proud of her grace, her inherent grace.