The Time I Didn’t Get Mad

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READING TIME: 4 min.

The Time I Didn't Get MadSomedays, he’s a handful—my middle child—the only extrovert in our gang of four kiddos. He’s athletic and charming and way talkative and well, he’s five.

Today, he outdid himself. He moped his way through Target, complaining of the sudden onset of a condition that rendered him unable to move his legs. Of course, this condition developed while we were in the back of the crowded store with a full cart and nowhere to put the invalid. After, what I’ll politely call, a “motivational speech” he regained mobility.

He took to whining before the morning’s end. Incessant, grate on your nerves, whining. He cried over the smell of macaroni and cheese. He cried over the itchiness of socks. Then he cried when I told him he had to take a nap because he was obviously tired. After aforementioned nap he cried some more because I didn’t say the words “every item on the menu” when I called to order us Chinese for dinner.

It’s been a day.

And the relief pitcher (aka Daddy) is at a conference. Won’t be home until after bedtime. Great.

Often days like this are not shining mom moments for me. The small amount of patience I do have catches a ride on a Matchbox car and speeds to a neighboring village. I yell. I’d rather say that I speak in a pleasant-but-firm voice. But, that’s a lie. I yell. And, on days like this, it’s usually over silly grievances, “WHY would you put your clean laundry all over the FLOOR?”

I let them stay up later than usual. (Hey, that two hour movie may have been the easiest part of my day.) But all teeth sparkled and covers were pulled over pajamas by 9:05 pm.

Time to take advantage of my solitude. Just me and the remote control. Oh, and an ice cream sandwich with no one around to ask me if they can have one too. Ahhh. . .

I flip off the TV around ten. Staying up late is over-rated when I know someone will need me pouring juice moments after the sun pours its light through their window. I grab a book and creep up the stairs in the dark. Then I hear a voice.

“Mom, my belly and head feel hot every time I breathe and I think I must be sick.”

I take a deep breath. Yep. It’s the one with an insatiable appetite for Chinese food.DSC04219

Blasted nap! He’s still awake.

Every one of this mommy’s cells was in relax-and-go-to-bed mode. I clocked out for the day. Mom’s off duty. My preprogrammed response of, “You are not sick! GO BACK TO BED!” almost slid through my vocal chords.

But it didn’t.

I swallowed those words hard—like one of those giant white powder Tylenols that I bought accidentally because they were cheaper than the gel capsules.

I told the boy to come into my room and sit on the bed. Slowly, he moved in that direction—his timidity likely caused by fear of entering some sort of disciplinary trap. I reassured him, “Come on. Show me exactly what’s wrong.”

He sat on the bed and pointed to his stomach, his chest, his head, his chin, and a few other random body parts as he explained that every time he breathed his belly felt hot.

I’m not a doctor, but my mom instinct told me that this was, likely, not a real medical emergency. I felt for fever. Not a trace. I pressed his stomach. Seemed fine. Then, I told him there was only one thing we could do for him.

Upside down therapy.

He looked at me funny and I hopped off the bed. Then, I grabbed his little boy legs as they extended off the bed and held them as high as I could in the air until he was doing a handstand on the mattress. I gently released him so he could do a forward roll across the bed.

He giggled. The entire time.

“Do you feel better?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“Great, now it’s time to go to bed. Good night, buddy. I love you.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

And, barely three minutes after our encounter on the steps, he climbed back to his top bunk and fell asleep.

I’m not always this awesome of a mom. Tonight reminded me of something I often forget. Dedicating a few minutes to eye contact, personal attention, and giggles is a whole lot easier than repeating “Go back to bed!” at various volume levels for an hour.

Three minutes. Three minutes of undivided him and me time. Three minutes of him knowing he’s heard and feeling like he’s cared for. That’s all he needed to sleep tonight.

It seems feeling deeply loved is a better motivator than an angry mom. I hope I remember this next time, too.

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