Yesterday, Charlotte and I stayed home while Grayson was at school. We didn’t get in the car or even leave the house once until it was time to pick him up. Honestly (and maybe I should be ashamed to say this), I can’t remember the last time we did this. We don’t stay at home. I am very intentional about making sure we have something, anything, to do to get us out of the house each and every day.
But yesterday, my girl and I both needed a day with nothing on the calendar. Since Grayson’s last hospital stay, we’ve both been out of sorts. Tired. Emotional. Earlier in the week, Charlotte woke up from her nap hysterical. Now yes, she is, in general, quite a dramatic child, but she is never inconsolable. She was inconsolable. She screamed, kicked, pinched, and arched her back for a good 30 minutes and I was genuinely concerned there was something really wrong with her. And I also found myself somewhat envious of her.
When you are a toddler, it’s generally accepted and expected that you are going to lose it every once in a while. You can scream your head off until you make yourself vomit (my children both looooovvve to vomit even when they aren’t sick, lucky me), throw random objects at your mother and dissolve in a mess of tears on the living room rug. And then you move on, with your reputation as a sweet, adorable little human still intact. On the other hand, if I behaved the same way for having probably similar, if not identical emotions as my tantruming toddler, I probably wouldn’t have a tantruming toddler to parent for long. But I sure wanted to throw an enormous fit like she did.
All this to say that Charlotte and I have both been an emotional mess for the past few weeks and needed a day off.
About 9:00 am she had dragged every tiny, clutter-y toy we own into the living room and emptied her ball pit too. I had been in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher and came in to check on the little mess-maker. She looked up at me from her place on the rug, pointed down and said, Mommy, Sit.
I sat down amongst a sea of blocks, cars and colored plastic balls.
“Mommy’s orange ball”, she said and handed it to me. “Mommy’s red ball. Mommy’s green ball.”
We played with the balls, naming the colors. We counted the blocks. We sang “Happy Birthday” to everyone we know (her favorite song right now). We cuddled.
I wish I could tell you that this was a huge wake-up call for me, a lesson learned in putting down the laundry, staying home more, and embracing every fleeting moment with my kids, because they grow up so fast and this stage will be over in a blink. And yes, I did have those thoughts. But the whole situation made me sad, too, because I realized in four years of motherhood I haven’t done much stop-what-I’m-doing on-the-floor playing, and it feels odd and sort of awkward. I feel like with Grayson, I missed out on this huge chunk of what being a mom is about, and now I’m no good at it, and cover that up by staying busy.
I’m a good mom- I’ve got four years of keeping a kid that has every medical odd stacked against him alive and thriving, relatively speaking. I can rattle off a list of medications and dosages with accuracy that always impresses medical students. I’ve learned medical equipment and to navigate the world of specialists, therapists, and insurance. I can sing a song to my daughter while my son is violently throwing up in my hand. I could get to the ER in my sleep and am really good at remaining really calm in very stressful situations. I’ve got drop off, pickup, playdates and our *calendar* down. I’m good at juggling the go-go-go. I love and adore my kids and love being with them. But when I’m forced to take a break, and just be, I feel inadequate.
Busyness and activity makes me happy, but it also makes me tired.
I love that Charlotte is so social and thrives in all kinds of environments, but I also want her to feel safe and love being at home.
I have limited time with Grayson, and holding him and singing a fifth verse of “Down By the Bay” and making him giggle is more important than cleaning that countertop.
I cherish my friendships but some days I do need to spend all my energy and all my emotion on my family.
And it’s true, it will all be over in a blink.