Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Better Part of Me

I had a very humbling experience this week. Wow, where even to begin? I'm not sure I can quite put words to this, but here goes...

I've been stressed. It's mostly the normal things, really. It's nothing a couple of million people don't feel on a daily basis as well- the usual things. Not enough money, too many bills, rooms falling apart immediately after being cleaned. I personally call this state of mind general hamster in a wheel syndrome. Normally, I am affected by this syndrome briefly and then I get over it and move on.

Occasionally it sticks to my ribs a bit longer than normal and that's when I become infested with the grouchies. Hamster in a wheel syndrome has led to the particular crabby disposition that I've been in this week, and as much as I myself don't like me when I'm like this, I can only imagine how those around me feel about my attitude when I get like this.

Adding to my Hamster feelings (which come with an intense desire to stuff my cheeks full of chocolate, by the way) is Critter. He screams. And although I'll give it to him because his screams vary, they are all painful. Occasionally I find them piling on top of me in compound interest fashion, ALL OF THEM-from his happy scream to his excited scream to his no that's mine scream all the way to his angry scream.

When all is said and done at the end of the day, I sometimes feel like the bank of Mom has been filled to maximum capacity. Critter also throws a few major temper tantrums into the daily deposit with the ease of a million dollar corporation owner playing the stock market. "Why don't you give me two shares of Tantrum Monday and an additional five shares of Hissy Fit Thursday?"

Maximum capacity banking deposits and ongoing hamster in a wheel feelings leave me feeling drained. There's no better word for it. Crabby, cranky, useless, and both emotionally and physically drained. Lately, it's gotten so bad that I don't recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror.

Enter Smoochie. He's a good kid, and tries very hard to please both me and his father. He's got this incredibly sweet disposition and is totally affectionate. For the most part, he's just a good kid. But he is a kid, he will push the boundaries a bit.

Lately his affectionate traits have led to some discord in the home. He loves his little brother so much it makes my heart ache with pride. He wants to kiss and squeeze and generally love and snuggle with his brother while Critter wants nothing of the sort. A vicious cycle of snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space-10 minutes of quiet-snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space begins.

Part of the problem is that Critter has only recently learned to walk, so Smoochie's affections wind up knocking the boy down like a bowling pin and (yep, more screaming) Critter winds up hurt. After about a million rounds of this, I'm prone to snap. Loose it. Run screaming around the bank vault with a can of hairspray and a lighter.

On Tuesday this is pretty much what it looked like in our home. Both boys were in the kitchen, and I heard Critter scream and cry in pain. I ran to the kitchen to get him. Smooch was there and I assumed that it was just another part of the cycle. (Did you catch that? I said ASSUMED)

"What happened?"

While scooping Critter up to comfort him, I gave Smooch time enough to get about two words out.

"How many times have I told you to give him space? Why can't you just back off and leave him alone? I am SO TIRED of telling you to give him room to move and-"

After laying into the boy I realized what had actually happened. Critter had been playing in the pantry because the door had been left open and Smoochie, being the good loving brother he is, was trying to keep him safe and closed the door. Because our pantry is actually on about a 2 & 1/2 ft ledge and back about a foot, Critter (who'd been leaning into the ledge and trying to climb up) got his fingers pinched on accident as Smooch closed the door.

It was too late. I'd hurt Smoochie's feelings. Not only that, but I had not allowed the boy to express himself. For starters, it breaks my heart to know I've hurt his feelings. To make me feel worse I had a sudden and vivid memory of all the times I was not allowed to speak as a child. It was frustrating, and to my own personal childhood development it was soul crushing not being allowed to speak my thoughts. And here I'd just done the very same thing to my own son.

There is nothing more humbling than looking my son in the eyes and knowing I must apologize for a hurt I've been the cause of. I know there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and that moments like these will happen, but I would give anything to never ever be the cause of pain or heartache to my child. He'll get enough of that from everyone else in life. Mom's are exclusive in their capacity for love for their children, they should at the very least be exempt from causing their children pain.

I knelt down and looked him in the eyes. I apologized to him as he cried. I apologized for snapping and yelling and for not giving him the opportunity to speak. I told him I was wrong, my behavior was not acceptable, and that in the future I would try very hard to give him the chance to speak.

He looked at me with tears still flowing down his cheeks and said, "That's OK, Mom."

He leaned over and gave me a hug.

HE gave ME a hug.

It was in that moment that I was humbled beyond words. My 7 year old son had just shown me exactly how to be a better person.


for a different kind of girl said...

Have been there, have done that. I know exactly what you're writing about here. I have made assumptions and later been the one comforted by my son. Hugs, hun.

Anonymous said...

You go Smoochie! Grammy Loves You. And Chas you have a time out coming. LOL

Honey Mommy said...

I know exactly what you mean. I HATE that hamster wheel!

I have days where I feel like I should just go hide myself in the closet because I am too grouchy to be loosed on my poor unsuspecting children.