I had one of those days last Saturday.
And when you’re a parent, one of those days is oh-so-much worse. I suspect it’s because you always have to be a functional human being. After all, you’re still responsible for your little monster, no matter how much like a monster he’s acting, and you have to get out of your funk at least long enough to feed and dress him.
Sure, you could have a lazy day. The only problem is, that phrase doesn’t mean quite the same thing to you and a 3-year-old…especially when that 3-year-old is overtired and grumpy.
The other day, my every request was met with “NO!!!” or “I want it NOW!!!” or “I’m very, very mad!!!” and, well, a slew of other delightful screams and demands that all parents have heard before.
I can’t really complain too much because my son is usually such a mild-mannered, happy kid, but…well, maybe I’ll complain a little. After hours of that, I was beyond ready for his bedtime, which, of course, came late that night. But it finally, mercifully came. Peace and quiet.
Around 1 a.m., I was still up for some godforsaken reason but was just about to go to bed when I heard the hysterical crying. Sigh. It figured. I went into his room, and he was inexplicably inconsolable, no matter how much soothing and snuggling I did.
When nothing seemed to work, and sleep seemed an impossible dream, I finally asked him, “Baby, do you want to come in bed with Mama tonight?”
Then, frantic nodding, and through a wail: “I want to come in bed with Mama tonight!”
I suddenly saw the light in his eyes, the little break from whatever heartache he was experiencing, and he cuddled in my arms to calm down, his sobs giving way to sniffles and his hysterics eventually relaxing into hugs. It was going to be OK, and it was because Mama was there, kissing away his pain.
And right then, I had that moment of realizing that he hadn’t been doing all of this to torture me. (I realize that epiphany seems ridiculous in the light of day, but we’ve all been at our wit’s end at some point.) He had been doing this because he was 3, and his world felt out of control and horrible for some reason that he couldn’t explain to me.
Maybe it was because his little sister is arriving soon and he suspects that his world is about to be turned upside-down. Maybe it was because we (finally) took away his pacifier and he was having trouble soothing himself. Maybe it was because he missed his dad, who was in Jamaica for a wedding. Maybe it was because our busy week had finally caught up to him.
Whatever it was, it was my job as a mom to help him get through it and understand it so he could better deal with it the next time around.
Since Dad was away, he had half of the bed to himself, and I tucked him in.
“I love you, Baby.”
“Love you, Mom.”
And then he fell asleep immediately. And stayed that way till 8 a.m.