One thing I’m sure you know about me is that I’m nothing if not overdramatic. But I really mean this when I say it – today was one of the worst days of my life. It might sound like it on paper, but there’s nothing overdramatic about that statement in reality. Nothing precipitated this awful day. Nothing awful has happened. You’ve been great. Daddy and I are having great conversations and are working well together as a team. The bills are paid. We all have free time – time to play and time to have fun.
But for whatever reason, I just hit the fan today. I think the fact that I had no reason to hit the fan made it all the worse. I was overwhelmed. Sure, you talked back. But you do that – it’s nothing new. And let’s face it: you’re four. Talking back is par for the course, and we usually handle it. Yes, there was a mess. Messes can totally set me over the edge, especially when every step I take leaves crumbs dripping off my feet. But again, messes are nothing new around here, and they’re certainly not things that can’t be easily remedied. And yes, you got up early – earlier than I wanted. I was still tired. But again, what’s new? I’m always tired. I never get enough sleep. Usually I’ve gotten less sleep than what I got last night. And usually it’s okay. I can’t even blame it on hormones. There’s nothing fertility-wise going on right now. I’m not hoping or dealing with dashed hopes or dealing with highs and lows or anything. I did have a particularly uncomfortable acupuncture appointment several days ago and I think that’s actually what stirred things up, but it’s nothing I can change and it’s nothing that hasn’t happened before.
Today, I snapped. I was short with you. I didn’t extend you much grace. I spoke sternly to you when I normally would have used a gentler tone. I sent you to the steps or to your room several times when what you probably needed was someone to look you in the eyes and say, “Let’s do something together. What do you want to play?”
I regretted it while it was happening. I tried to fix it while it was happening. But it just kept getting worse. Finally, with you in your room and me trying frantically to get my head back on my shoulders, I buried my face in a pile of coat sleeves and screamed. A deep, long, aching scream. It shook my body. It made my back ache. Its humitidy fogged my glasses. (No, you didn’t hear it. You were far enough away and there were suffient coats that the result was quite muffled.) And then I cried. I cried that the soul inside me felt tumultuous. I cried that I hadn’t done better for you. I cried that I had wasted this day – a day I could have spent with you rather than in the parallel existence that occurred.
Several times today – and probably dozens of time short of what was needed – I asked you to forgive me. You said, “Sure!” with a smile in your voice, and I cried again. I love you. My heart swelled when you said that. There is something powerful about receiving grace from a child. There’s something healing and wise about it, too. I hope age doesn’t steal that wisdom from you.
Later, after you and Dad had left for Grandma and Grandpa’s and I had found a little bit of my sanity in some retail therapy, I replayed the day. I wished for a rewind button, a chance to do better by you. And for you. Because it could have been so much better. It should have been. But there aren’t really any second chances. New chances, yes. But no second chances.
When I was about to start crying again – this time in public while fumbling over shirts and shoes and things like that – God said something to me. He said, “Heidi, what did you expect? You’re only human! I know this. I made you. This is less of a judgment and more of a fact. You’re human and you just can’t do this perfectly. You can’t. But I can. You are my hands on earth to this boy, but when you fail, I’m perfectly able to cover the gaps. It’s what I do. I father the fatherless. I’m love. I cover a multitude of wrongs.”
For what seemed like the first time in hours, I breathed again. I worry so much, most of all about wanting to be the best mother for you I can be. The time goes so fast. Just yesterday we sat discussing – actually discussing – your fifth birthday party. You will be five! And you want a carnival for a party. You don’t smell like a baby anymore. You read. You tell jokes. And you laugh endlessly over loud noises and farts and things like that. That’s how I know for sure you’re not a baby anymore – you’re just my baby. You’re a little boy who will soon be a big boy and before I know it will be a man. I’m not ready for that, but it seems every time I breathe you age several years.
I want to bottle you up. I want to save this time we spend together for a time when I am wiser and more patient and more skilled at enjoying individual moments rather than being overwhelmed by their totality. But – Captain Obvious speaking – I can’t do that. So I get it wrong and reflect and write you letters and apologize a hundred times over and hope for a better tomorrow.
Which, actually, it probably will be because you and Daddy are off exploring the world while I’m staying home alone for the weekend. I asked him to be super nice and gentle and sweet this weekend to make up for my breakdown today.
But tonight I’m also resting in the knowledge that apparently God was expecting today’s total collapse and He said He can cover the distance between the mother I am to you and the mother you need. I’m so very, very thankful for that.