"Mama, are you just pretending to cry?"
I'm so glad she said that. I'm so glad she invited me to use that excuse.
It's been a rough two weeks. Nothing tragic, we've just been sick is all. And it caught up to me and was just so frustrating.
And I did this stupid thing where I tried implementing new parenting modalities. I know, ridiculous right? My children and my method of parenting are just fine the way they are, right? Right. But I was sick and exhausted and suffering from...I don't know what. You know how when you were a kid and if you were angry at your brother you would kick the cat? Well it was like that but it wasn't. Or, you know how when you are upset at your spouse, you have this misdirected impatience at your children? Well that happens, sometimes, but it was definitely not that either. Maybe, because of everyone being so sick, I just needed to feel like I had more control of something, anything. Maybe I was just so exhausted that I wanted instant gratification. Maybe I just had a lapse in judgement.
I tried doing some immediate unpleasant consequence techniques with Luna. We don't do "time outs", more on why another time, but when Luna screamed at her sister and shouted "No!" at anyone, I would immediately swoop her up and bring her to her room and ask her if she wanted to play on the floor or on the bed (play, because she was not being given a time out) and place her where she indicated and then I would tell her that she could come out when she was ready to speak nicely to everyone. Behavior modification 101. It was stupid. My gentle, natural, inclusive, attachment-parenting brain would be telling me while I was swooping her that there is a reasonable explanation for this new behavior, she's obviously reacting to the helpless and needy sick kid energy coupled with the reduction in attention because I'm too tired to do it so just do it yourself parenting energy. Right? But I wanted ... oh, I don't know what I wanted. I didn't want to do what I ended up doing for a day and a half.
That wasn't me. That mama didn't belong in my house. In my head.
Then it all got much better, of course. Loving acceptance of who everyone is will produce a more harmonious family. Instead of teaching "No, you are unappealing when you do that" you teach new vocabulary such as, "You must be really frustrated. Can you try saying what you want, again, in a nicer voice so we can help you." Of course that's better. Sigh.
THEN, I took Wolfie and Tulip to the park and on the way home we passed a courtyard full of kids who were all shouting Wolfie's name. There was a classmate and her older brother who live there, another classmate and her older brother over to play, and third classmate and his older sister over to play, and a hand full of other playmates either for the original younger or older sibling.
And there were no adults outside. Okay. But then who am I going to play with? This was the first time I saw Tulip in a crowd as the youngest, as Wolfie's younger sister. What would she do? First she asked me if she could play on a swingset and I was relieved for a moment that my duty would be to "watch" her. But sooner or later she got caught up in the play date frenzy and began running from yard to yard like the big kids. Then they all ran into a house.
Picture me, standing by myself in the courtyard.
I so wished I had a dog on a leash. Or a book. I just had my awkward lone self who was still not feeling 100% either.
I mean, Tulip is only 4 still. I couldn't say to Wolfie, "Okay, you two play here for a half hour then take the path back to our house." Maybe I could have. But I have not yet sent Tulip over to a neighbor's house by herself and she has never come home from a neighbor's house by herself. I know she wouldn't have been by herself. Her big brother (big 7) would have been in charge of her.
But that Mama didn't belong in my head either. Tulip saw me cry that morning. How did that make her feel? I needed to be the Mama that was "right over there" while she played. And I needed to walk home with her so I could have more seconds of her to myself.