I don’t know how we got here: tears glistening in the corner of both of our eyes, misunderstood and at the end of our ropes. My Eldest and I have tripped into a pattern this morning, an order from which we are having a hard time unsticking ourselves. My body aches in it’s third trimester weariness; my mind aches from having to orchestrate this time, feeling like I can’t find harmony or melody with him, and I’m pierced to admit that I, too, am contributing to this discord. He is my mirror: his pride, his arrogance, his tongue, his wit. It is uncomfortable to see myself so reflected, and he watches me wiggle.
We tried, and we try, to have new moments of grace: these fresh starts. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t: I cannot hide my frustration from the moments prior; he cannot see things as separate. We both fall prey to exhaustions and lack of patience builds. We hug, and cry, and continue to ask for new love and forgiveness, together.
I can get twisted up about these days. I know that we all have our moments, our days, and family life is no different. We shine, and then we all need space to lose our glitter. I get that. We had an amazing weekend, where I asked a lot of my little ones. We were stuck in the car, road tripping to family and friends, and I heard nary a complaint (“I didn’t even ask once if we were there yet!” He bragged the next day). He was gracious, and charming; funny and friendly; smart and calm. Even tired at dinner, he concentrated on writing his letters on napkins with crayons instead of complaining. I smiled broadly as I tucked him in to bed that night, and he knew the praises he earned.
Even yesterday, the beginning of the week, with Daddy back off to work and less to look forward to, still tired from the weekend, I could have understood a moment to fall apart. But instead, we followed the sunshine outside again, and ran and played at the Gardens. Again, another stolen golden November day. With charm and gratitude we began our week together.
But today is a day of drudgery: I sat paying bills at 8:30am, drinking down my coffee, throwing another load of laundry in. The bickering began, and I pulled out my referee whistle. The clouds are fierce in the sky, pulling us back to November’s reality. An outing to the grocery store loomed as both a threat and the highlight of today’s activities. The Littlest struggles less on days like today. She delights in open space for play, and happily cooked up her own plans. But the Eldest sometimes doesn’t know how to make heads or tails of it. As much as it is one of our core family values that we carve out intentional space of nothing, and that I long for and encourage my children to confront their boredom with wit and wisdom, with creativity and imagination, he sometimes can’t get past the struggle.
It is quiet in the house now. We are all taking time and space to ourselves, and I know that this will help rejuvenate our day. It may not make everything peaceful and copacetic, but it is a start. Here is what else I know: a day full of chores and tasks makes me grumpy, too. I need to keep my own grumpiness in check, so that I’m not feeding his. I will put on the kettle, then with hot tea snuggle in to read a bit before naptime is over. Yes, the dishwasher needs to be emptied, but I’m choosing to nourish myself for the sake of the little ones. When I asked him about our struggles today he told me simply that he wanted me to pay more attention to him. While this is not always possible, and he does need to adjust his meter a bit, I know that I can turn my attention toward him in positive ways this afternoon. Maybe I’ll help him start a castle out of blocks; maybe I’ll sit and read books with him for a bit. I forget how simply setting time out for his needs, even in the middle of our struggles, can forge a connection that will set things straight. I also know that some fresh air will be good for all of us, so though it is cloudy and we’ll miss the essence of sunshine, we will head outside for a bit of play before it gets too dark.
I have not had my finest moments as a mother today. I am thankful for the chance to pause, reflect and begin again, in each moment. I am thankful for my tender little boy, arms wrapped tightly around my neck, who knows of my deep and aching love for him. He forgives quickly, and with grace. I am thankful for fresh starts.