I’m laying on the bed with both of my kids fast asleep. We’ve been here for about an hour and a half while they both took turns crying.
Actually screaming. And the older one did some kicking.
It started out as a fun morning at the park, but I overbooked our schedule which makes me feel tense. I’m not as patient then with three year old explorations and questions. On days like this, my mind wanders far away, distracted with adult worries. I start feeling the clock ticking in my mind on all of my responsibilities while they are blissfully unaware of it.
Then when they’re both needing some extra time, extra patience, extra explaining, I don’t have it because I’m stretched too thin.
It creates a bad cycle of tension with me just wanting them both to cooperate with my agenda for once and them both just wanting me to stop stressing and be their mommy.
So when rest time comes, I start having visions of my book and a coffee pot, but the reality is that we’ve got STUFF to deal with. They both need to offload the tension from the day and thankfully they persist until I create a safe place for them to do it.
At first I really fight it. Inside I am desperate for the crying to stop and for everyone to just quit needing me. I know that I am the adult here but I don’t always want to be. I’m mad at myself for letting the morning get chaotic and frustrated that my stress affects them.
Then I remember: I am human, I can have a hard time too.
I repeat a little mantra I learned: this is a moment of struggle. Struggle is a part of life. I can be kind to myself in this moment.
I try to mother myself a little and say, “It’s ok Leah. You’re trying your best. You’re right where you need to be.”
Then it clicks for me. That is all they need too.
I stop wishing their hurt away and just let it be. I take turns holding them and saying, “it’s ok, Mama is here.” I talk to the three year old about the moments I got frustrated and spoke sharply. I tell him, “you don’t like it when Mama talks to you like that.”
He stops the whining and writhing around long enough to open one soulful eye and look right at me.
I pick up the baby and snuggle her close. I feed her again and don’t feel guilty that there isn’t two of me and that sometimes one has to cry while I’m tending to the other.
They both melt into the comfort a little. Sweet feisty baby unclenches her tiny fists and relaxes. Tender three year old makes himself a blanket nest and falls asleep.
Afterward I tiptoe around the house and smile at the aftermath of our chaos; abandoned lunch plates, smashed crayons, a suitcase I had packed that became a fort instead.
It all looks comical to me now and almost sweet. My acceptance helps me see it in a different light for awhile.
I know this will happen again. There will be more tears, more mornings where I didn’t get our routine quite right, times when I forgot to refuel my own heart before beginning a day of mothering.
But in this moment I know we’ll be ok and I try to make a mental road map of what it feels like.
Maybe next time I can read that map and help us find our way there a little sooner. Or maybe not, maybe I’ll get lost again and have to forge a new path. But in my heart, I hope I can know that all the paths lead us home.