Three year olds are unpredictable. To be fair, many three year olds struggle with the reality of beginning to be able to fully feel and identify emotions WITHOUT allowing those emotions to completely take over their entire bodies. To give context, my particular three year old child is a wonderfully intelligent and imaginative, very dramatic human not unlike his mother. I have my talking points already prepared for the inevitable day when media outlets will contact me to get my reaction to his recent Oscar award acceptance speech. It. Will. Happen. The world is indeed his stage and anyone who knows us personally is no doubt rolling on the floor laughing at this point because they can attest to the truth of my statements. I love my kids, really. They are both unique and amazing. Being their mother is my heart’s greatest gift. They are also, both, very intense personalities in albeit different ways. Apples don’t fall far, so please don’t think that I am skipping the part about my husband and myself being the originators of this intensity.
Yesterday was one of those days when motherhood seems like a challenging mystery. My sister and I took my boys to the park. It was a gorgeous day at a gorgeous park. I was happy to see them running and skipping and chasing each other with ear to ear smiles. So happy, in fact, that I decided to capture the moment. I asked my sister to take a picture of the boys and me and handed her my phone. It slipped, seconds later, right out of her hand and shattered on the concrete trail. No sooner than I said “oh no”, my three year old starts to scream and cry and takes of running into the open field next to the trail we were on. I wasn’t sure what he was upset about but I walked toward him, after my calling for him to return hadn’t worked. The closer I got, the farther he ran. Yelling, screaming, crying, not listening to reason, inconsolable. . . it went on forever. People in the park were concerned, or at least intrigued. They couldn’t help but be. Someone had replaced my child with a handsome ball of full on meltdown! And over what?
Nothing I did or said worked. Every plea, bribe, threat or olive branch only fueled his fire. Here I was in this beautiful dress I’d been getting compliments on all morning (I’d attended a networking breakfast earlier and was still dressed up) on a beautiful day, in the beautiful park and all I could feel was ugly. I was certain that everyone in the park figured I was a horrible Mom monster who was hated by this little boy she could not get to calm down. They’d probably judged me to be shallow, looking good on the outside but full of garbage on the inside. My imagination painted the scene of images of me popping up on some obscure site like MeanAndHorribleMoms.com. Those things couldn’t be farther from the truth. My son loves me. In fact, his nuclear reaction stemmed from some combination of him thinking he’d had something to do with the phone getting broken and being sad for me that it was broken. His reaction to those emotions was overblown, out of control and overly negative and while that behavior has to be corrected his initial feeling of concern was quite empathetic. Again, we are very similar. Our birthdays are days apart and we are both big “feelers”. Hence the drama.
My kids are tremendously important and special to me. I’m grateful just to be their Mom. I consider it a huge blessing, particularly since I am acutely aware of all of the women out there who would like to be mothers but are not yet. Whether they are waiting for the right spouse or financial positioning, experiencing fertility issues, or have endured infant loss as I did – these women are my friends and family and I think of them often. I try to remember how precious motherhood is on days like yesterday. Yes, I was mortified at the idea of being looked upon as a bad mother, but I am a mother. No amount of temporarily yucky feelings could make me be less thankful for that. Any one who has ever been a mother realizes, as I do, that there will no doubt be at least a handful of moments during this complex and beautiful journey that appear – even temporarily – ugly. That is life and it’s okay.
We later ended the day back on a beautiful note. Watching one of the boys favorite movies at one of my favorite venues in our city, Miller Outdoor Theatre. My husband, our boys, the moonlight, the movie, a perfect breeze, a few snacks, and several other families all enjoying the same fun night was a good reminder that there are far more magical moments in life than monstrous ones.