Breaking the Seal


“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.



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.