Breaking the Seal

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“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I fill the laundry cup with detergent and throw it in the machine and answer, “Ok, just a sec!”

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

One scoop of clothes.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

The next scoop.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I close the lid of the machine.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I grab the carton of almond milk from the pantry shelf.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I walk up the basement stairs.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I get the cereal off the shelf, the pink plastic Ikea bowl out of the cupboard, open the almond milk and pour.

“Mom, I want cereal, with milk.”

I say to my two-and-a-half-year-old, “Here is your cereal.”

——————————–

My six-year-old is stalling on getting dressed. He keeps asking for his brother to come with him to his room. He is scared to go alone. Since his room is 10 feet from where I am in mine, I am too annoyed to get up and go with him.

After five minutes of him trying to cajole his completely uninterested little brother, I screech out of bed and literally scream to the heavens with wordless frustration, scaring both of them.

Five minutes later, he is dressed, standing in the doorway, blocking the door. I give him a silent hug. He sort of fake wimpers and, aggravated, I ask what the matter is.

“I don’t want you to yell.”

I sit down on the red plastic kiddy chair and give him a big hug.

And all my anger and frustration liquifies as I start sobbing.

I apologize for yelling, I tell him how tired I am, how they fight all the time, how they are constantly needing something from me. How they never eat any good food, how I’m tired of arguing with everyone, how I just want it to be easier.

I am not enough.

Seal. Broken.

They get their shoes and coats on without too much fuss and we make it out the door on time for our weekly homeschool classes at the community center.

——————————–

We are walking into the community center and my 2 1/2 year-old stops dead at the outside doors and demands to open the doors using the handicap automatic door button.

Of course, I tell him to go right ahead and push that button!

But the button isn’t activated. It’s not turned on yet.

And he starts screaming. Snot bubbling screaming.

I cannot fix this reality for him.

In a perfect world, I could say, “Let’s go in and find the maintenance person and ask them to turn it on!” and he would say okay, albeit reluctantly, and we would go in and do just that. Or one of 100,000 other things that I could think of, if only he weren’t screaming so loudly, with so much snot all over his face. But that doesn’t happen.

Meanwhile, people are carrying heavy boxes full of things for the curriculum sale that is being set up. They walk by, laden by their things but offering sympathy.

And he’s still screaming.

His little buddy comes out to greet us and I give her a happy smile and hug. Sometime while this is happening, the maintenance person comes and miraculously activates the door button.

But all hell breaks when his buddy pushes it first. More screaming.

He finally pushes it and we can go in.

A friend makes the mistake of asking me if I’m okay, and I’m not okay. My crying seal has already been broken for the day, so these tears come so easy, this ashamed sobbing in the bathroom stall, where I know that everyone can hear us, both sobbing, both loud.

He is screaming that I have to give him a hug in a certain spot, at least I think that’s what he’s saying. He’s basically hyperventilating, so it’s really hard to tell.

I finally get my act together enough to take him to what I think is the place he means. Right outside my dance class that starts momentarily. I hug him there and he continues scream-sobbing. And I’m crying still, I can’t help it. It’s so futile, how bad I am at this. How little I can fix things. My dance teacher comes over and somehow breaks the spell, snaps him out of his emotional feedback tunnel and somehow we are able to move forward.

——————————–

For several hours, it’s like nothing ever happened.

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——————————–

But after lunch, it happens again, at home.

He is screaming. I am trying to understand his words.

“You want me to re-zip your jacket?”

Through snot-bubbled screaming tears he yells, “YES!”

I quietly zip up the jacket. And then:

“I want to take this off!”

I unzip the jacket and help him slip one arm out. His other arm gets a little stuck. I help pull the jacket off.

“NOOOOOO! I WANT TO DO IT MYSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And the screaming and wailing continues.

——————————–

Later. We have all been trying to relax, watching Martha Speaks in my bed. He requests “The Mud One.” But the problem is, I haven’t been paying attention too closely, and I have no idea which episode he’s talking about (the descriptions are not illuminating). I ask my six year old for help, but he doesn’t know, either. We look and look, trying different episodes but none are right.

He screams NO! every time we are wrong. We are wrong every time.

——————————–

For the life of me, I cannot remember what the last disagreement was about, and I wish I could. But it ended with me saying, “I can’t, I’m NOT MAGIC!” because it was something I truly could not manufacture.

And he answered me, and kept indignantly insisting, “Yes, you ARE magic!”

Until I screamed in frustration again and he stopped.

Because I’m NOT magic. I cannot alter reality. I cannot give you every single thing you would like, even though I *really really really* want to.

I feel broken. Like I am not enough. I could never BE enough for this – for this expectation of creating whatever he wishes, in that moment. How can I live with such a lifetime of what is bound to be disappointment?

I hope he can forgive me for not being magic. I hope I can forgive myself.

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14 thoughts on “Breaking the Seal

  1. (hug) I love that I finally found your new (to me) blog Chessa! And I love your share for today because I am THERE with you, sister. I had a giant sobfest in Lochlans bed tonight right along with him, after he told me that I didn’t love him and that I didn’t want him to be alive. :( These little people come and shake us to the core don’t they? I wish they came with a crystal ball because what they want right now is different than what the wanted yesterday, or didn’t want. And how dare I pick up the green spoon and give it to Griffin with his yogurt, because even though I put it back he picked it up and pointed it at me accusing me that I tried to give it to him as if I knew that he wanted to do it himself?

    Oh it is tough. You are not alone!!!! And you are magic. :D
    ~April

    • Yes, April, how DARE you pick that green spoon! ;) Toddler-ese really is universal, isn’t it? I’m so glad you found me here and selfishly glad that you can relate. :)

  2. Ah yes. I get this. And you know what? Even though I yelled so loudly at my 2 year old today that I made the poor sweet soul cry, I also completely stopped myself in the middle of another major parenting tantrum, and apologized to my 5 year old girl, which was HUGE. One step forward, one step back. You are healing yourself, and healing your relationship with your children, and that takes time and it is NOT easy. You rock, mama!

    • It’s really not easy! I have a hard time apologizing, too, so good for you for catching yourself with your 5-year-old. Thanks for the support , Teri, I really appreciate it! <3

  3. My 4 year old still frequently behaves like this, especially when he’s tired. It is SO draining. And my almost 8-year-old, who so often behaves like a 4 year old… And I am a yeller. I hate it. Thank you for sharing this – you always strike me as such the epitome of what I wish that I was, it’s good to know that you, too, get to all of those good places by working through the tough ones as best you can, often with tears. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. And *hugs* to you, mama.

    • Oh, Mandy, I think that’s one of those cases of comparing your real home movies to my best of reel! I’m a terrible yeller, I have some serious rage (that masks my total grief for not being able to make everyone happy or control my circumstances). I’m impatient, petty and awful sometimes. Not all the time, but I have my moments, I assure you. But we’re all doing the best we can in the moment. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. xoxo

  4. xoxoxo. We’ve all been there. But you know what? Eventually we do discover that we don’t have to be that thing that you call magic–that just being us is indeed enough–that this standard of perfection we somehow hold ourselves up to is neither attainable nor necessary–nor healthy. And we realize we’re magic anyway. Fallible, imperfect, human. But magic nonetheless.

    • Yes, thank you. Intellectually, I know it’s okay to be imperfect and fallible – but emotionally, when confronted with the pain of a loved one and wanting to fix it and not being able to – emotionally, I really struggle with this. Thank you so much for kind words! <3

  5. wow. this is my life right now. I have a three year old in this phase and a one year old that is high needs. I made my 3 year old cry hysterically a few days ago because I got so frustrated I told him if he kept putting toys in his mouth he could choke and choking means you die and dying means he will never ever ever see me again. He sobbed, screaming “I don’t want to die, don’t let me die!” I was horrified at myself and crying and it took a good 40 minutes to settle him down and talk it all out. He has meltdowns just like you described when things aren’t exactly how he wants, he’s behind on his speech so I can hardly understand what it is he wants and all the while the one year old is bound to want something and start crying too. lol I wish I was magic too! I feel so guilty every time I loose it and snap at them. We just keep on doing our best, apologize when we need to, and love on them as much as we can. I am sure you are a great mom. It just sucks to be human, eh?

    • Hugs to you Lexi, that sounds really really hard! And yes, it really does suck to be human! My expectations for myself are so impossibly high, I’m bound to fail, but how can we do anything else? I’m getting a little better at apologizing, but man is it hard for me. My husband is a much better model for that, but I’m trying. Part of is that I want to feel authentically sorry before I apologize (because that’s what I want to model) but I often don’t feel sorry yet, because I’m still stuck in frustration and anger. I need to remember that I can come back, probably even days later and still apologize and mean it. In fact, my six-year-old could probably use some of that modeling (because he’s like me, and isn’t ready to apologize right away a lot of the time).
      I’m sure you are a great mom, too! <3

  6. Some days are like that. I’m so sorry your day was so tough. I think we’ve all been there and we judge ourselves harsher than anybody else. It’s hard to accept (emotionally, at least – for me, I accept things intellectually WAY before I do emotionally) that giving our best is good enough, even if we can’t always do things perfectly and we’re not magic.

    I doubt he’ll see life as a series of disappointments. What he’ll remember is probably not the few times you lost it or couldn’t give him what he wanted, but how you were mostly patient and kind. That you cared. That you took him to activities and helped set up and solidify a community for him. That you spent time with him. That you loved him. That home was a good place to be – even when Mom has bad days from time to time (as we all do). That you did your best to give him what you could, whatever that might be.

    As an aside: Netflix episode descriptions really tick me off. I’ve been there with Kai, going through thirty episodes before finally saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know. You’ll have to watch this one.” How FRUSTRATING. It’s not just you.

    • Thank you so much, Misa. Your sweet words are bringing tears to my eyes, and I know you’re right – he will remember being loved and played with and how hard I tried. He’s already forgotten all of the bad stuff of yesterday and is having a fabulous day today. Some days you just cannot win, but other days are a gift of ease and awesomeness.

      And I’m glad I’m not alone with the Netflix descriptions! Seriously frustrating! :)

  7. Wow this hits so close to home with me and my 4yr old and 2yr old! I have a problem where I don’t plan for the “bad” moments so when they happen and mess up our well thought out good day, the feeling of failing definitely kicks in! I think not accepting that these moments will happen soon or later is what makes it so much worst! I have my moments with them, after they continue to jump and jump on both of our couches with hardwood floor to potentially fall to!! Its definitely not easy and staying calm and sane does progressingly get harder but we always try and move past them. Usually changing the subject to something I know for sure they like does the trick! I feel for you
    -xo mama

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