When the anger and tears erupt in rage, I won’t let it take our sweetest moments away. Let’s be clear that summer and life are not all beaches and beauty- ice cream and sunsets.
When things are smooth and peaceful and loving-I won’t let the explosions from this morning belittle or undervalue this incredible summer of travel, family, explorations, laughter and beauty. But they exist only together. The real. life. struggle. that is part of being human.
This morning I came to realize that the moments of tension and tightness are full of love too. Seeing it all play out in a daze of exhaustion and expectations. Our life unfolds in ways that we ALWAYS want to know HOW HOW HOW and WHY WHY WHY.
But we can’t. When love shows up through big, full, explosive emotions in little and big people, it hurts. The tears come. The sadness and loneliness of being human. The daily unknown of what parenting looks and feels like on the inside or what I SHOULD do. When it’s hot inside, it’s hard to hear the intuitive calls. It’s hard to feel what is the “right” way.
I look to nature and movement to soothe my soul. I practice gentle compassion on my own thoughts, KNOWING in all my body- I have done the best I can, with what I have, at this moment. Having the hardest morning that I can remember in a long time, does not lessen my love for you- in fact it deepens it. We get through hard things.
We have super tough mornings. Built and raised up on expectations for what SHOULD happen today.
Get up- go to camp- mom goes for a hike – then works- then has lunch – works some more- then picks up kids- then family goes to get ice cream- then swim club- then family dinner – then bedtime RIGHT ON TIME. AGH.
Early Rise- scream- tantrum- yell- tired- tired-tired- breakfast- relax- shoes ON! – NO CAMP TODAY- PLEASE mom. NO. NO. NO. from one- and then the other.
“But you LOVE it” I can feel myself start to rise. “You only have 2 days left, please. Get in the car.”
“No!” he shouts and screams, eyes pouring tears. BIG TIRED EYES. I see them but I don’t want to. His nose gets wet. He snuggles down on to me. “No! mama! NO!”
I feel anger rise. I AM TIRED. I need this day to myself. Countless nights of up and down sleep in a twin bed – recent nightmares from Saylor and midnight snuggles for Milo are starting to take their toll on me, on my limit, on my patience. “Buddy, you are going to camp.”
I put him down on the ground and walk towards the car. I pack my water bottles for my hike, I put the camp bags in the car. He slowly creeps over and climbs in. He is quiet and yet his little body communicates so much. I put my hand over my ears, I feel like yelling back “I’m not listening!”
He walks into his camp. His head is heavy- so is my heart. I know I can’t keep him home with me today- he will do better at camp ( I tell myself), I’ll pick him up early- and at least he will have had some play time. SEND HIM TO CAMP ALL DAY- he can take it. OR PUT HIM BACK IN BED AND GIVE HIM A DAY OFF FROM LIFE. Don’t we all need that once in a while? no right answer. just a choice. a thoughtful choice about what is best for HIM AND for ME. ” See you later buddy. I love you.”
And then- Saylor and I walk together towards the bus. She asks me to stay until it arrives, then until it leaves. And then with no warning. TEARS, strong hold around my waist. “NO! NO! NO! NO!” she says. She starts crying, then squeezing. This one BIGGER AND LOUDER than her brother. This one hot and sweaty and wet…. in front of everyone. kids, parents, counselors.
My teary eyes are covered by sunglasses. ” please, please, please saylor- no.” I think to myself. “I just need you to get on the bus.” I say to her over and over- ” please get on the bus.” she becomes more hysterical. holding up the buses now- it’s all getting red. heated. intensity escalates. the staff says,” why don’t you drive her to camp. she can sleep in the car and be rested and join her group as soon as she arrives.”
perfect. plan in place. I like a plan. I don’t like standing in public with screaming 8.5 year old child. hello discomfort. anxiety and fear. I’m feeling it all. My sensitive intuitive body- needs to process this all. I put her in the car- she falls asleep and I drive the 20 minutes to camp- only to have an even more intense, fiery, meltdown and tantrum at camp with the awesome staff that is trying to help her. Now she’s yelling about stomach aches, and sore throats and growing pains in her legs. We stand there together. The staff, the screaming child, and me. Covering my quiet tears and crying feeling overwhelmed with the question.. “what is right for this child?” does she need a day in bed. does she need to learn to push through the exhaustion and am I supposed to be teaching her a lesson? Will I be sending her the wrong messages if I take her home and put her in bed. is that helpful for the REAL WORLD?
This child, who spends 99.9% of her time being awesome to everyone. Taking care of everyone. Being the rock for her brother, her friends. Quite frankly, ME. This girl is SOLID. And here she is . a screaming, slobbering, wet, hot, sweaty mess. Arms SQUEEZING me to not leave her. She won’t let me go. My mind is a wash of ideas. leave or stay. rip her arms off me- send her back. screaming like a toddler. “NO MAMA NO!” or take her with me. back to the house, to sleep to get the rest she so clearly deserves.
And I stand there and wonder- WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR US TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM? Why am I always trying to make everything a lesson-a teachable moment. I wipe my own tears and tell the counselors and Saylor ” You WILL be at camp tomorrow. You can come back home with me now and get right into bed. You will NOT watch tv or eats sweets or spend time with me. You will spend the day in bed if you are so sick and tired.”
I say strongly to her. I thank the camp staff and I start to walk away. The girl behind me.
Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. Sometimes I am so scared of doing the wrong thing or wasting money or time that I just get cold and shut down.
When we get home, she gets out of her camp bathing suit and into her pjs. I gather her things for the day- and tell her I will be in the other room if she needs me.
My heart is beating fast, the 20 minute car ride home gave me a minute to calm down but now we are face to face. I know what I need to do.
“Saylor, you know I love you very much, right”
” yes, mom.”
” I can be very, very angry and still love you.”
“And you too.you can get very mad at me and still love me. do you understand that?” I ask her- still trying to find meaning in a meaningless situation.
I notice I have shifted from blaming my tried, hot, cranky kids to doing what moms do best- blaming myself. ” I should never have ….. I should have…. Why did I …” starts to wander in. And before I EVEN let her in the door- I put on my sneakers. and walk. just around the house, around the block. I know I need to move and process this morning BEFORE I start to go on a mental binge of critical polluting thoughts.
Once my walk ends. I feel into my whole body. my wholeness. okay.
was there something I learned from this? is there something that I should consider?
I journaled a few thoughts. I drank a huge glass of water.
And then I went upstairs, found her sleeping and tucked her in.