I’ve always sensed that little eyes were watching me. Little ears certainly hear what I’m saying when I least expect it (or want it). They are like little sponges soaking it all in. This intuition was solidified as reasonable fact when I saw Bigs watching ESPN standing 15 feet from the TV with his legs shoulder width apart and arms crossed over his chest… exactly like my husband. My son is just like my husband as my husband is just like his father… cut from the same cloth.
It was a long drive home from my parents’ house for us post-Thanksgiving. Bigs woke up with a fever and was one sad puppy. Littles and I got going and headed to church with my parents while the boys stayed home. We got back and little progress had been made in Bigs’ demeanor, so we quickly packed up to head home. It was a beautiful sunny (almost warm) day. The kids watched movies, my husband worked, and I drove.
Littles cried that she had wet her undies a little and needed to go potty. Bigs had drifted to sleep, so we told her to hold it, knowing it was a gamble in an effort to keep the much needed nap going. We continued on with the heavy traffic of deer hunters and holiday travelers not quite rushing to get back home. As Bigs came out of his groggy sleep 100 miles from home, he threw up. Everywhere. It happened in slow motion where he opened his mouth to speak, but something else came spraying out. The car reeked of bile flavored Gatorade and Bigs sobbed.
We took the first exit and found the nearest McDonalds. One can say many terrible things about the franchise, but as a regular traveler I give them a lot of credit for always having a clean bathroom. After assessing the situation in the parking lot, we had a mess on our hands. Three winter coats were covered in vomit along with all of Big’s clothes. Littles was soaked from belly button to knees in pee. We pulled out clean clothes and headed straight for those clean bathrooms.
Littles loves to dawdle. That’s all my husband. We poked at getting her pajamas on and then washed hands. She went back for extra paper towels after wiping her hands dry. Frustrated, I admonished the behavior. Littles grabbed one last towel and began wiping up the counters in front of the sink. In her sweet little lisp she said, “We want to leave it clean for the next person.” This habit started for me at the work bathroom. There aren’t many ladies and we pride ourselves in having a clean bathroom. After a decade, I do it instinctively wherever I go… even McDonalds. The simple act made my heart swell with pride.
Since the bathroom, I’ve noticed many things she does as I do. When I put her to bed, she strokes my face, arm, or hair and gently whispers, “I love you too.” She loves to wear necklaces and pretty dresses. I was also reminded of Friday night’s bedtime at my parents. Littles was over tired and nothing was right. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that she would not be getting Cheez-Its for bedtime snack. Tears of anger streamed out of her sweet blue eyes. She didn’t want anything but the thing she was denied.
Her favorite dolly? No. Pushing it away.
Her blankie? No. She threw it across the room.
A story? No. The scream grew louder to drown out the words.
Momma hugs? Absolutely not!
We all get angry when we don’t get what we want. Tears come with disappointment. But is it human nature to push away that which could comfort us when we are fraught with grief? Is this my nature? I’d like to think it is not. This past week has been one filled with loss and fears. I have pushed my comfort away, because it is sometimes easier than feeling the emotions and being vulnerable. It feels more satisfying to writhe in rage against the unjust than accept the stillness of what is… out of our control.
As a mother, I wonder if the fits and tears are simply a call for comfort. A challenge to love the unloveable behavior. Does my child need to know without asking that she is loved beyond measure in those moments of turmoil? I think we all need that. I think we all search for a comfort that will linger when the world is seemingly all wrong. It may not be the persistent returning of a spurned blankie, but it is the hug we don’t want to accept that melts away some of our pain. The pain we hold on to as a shield to protect our vulnerable souls. It is words that come even when we don’t want to hear them. A reminder that the world has at times been right.
Littles is only two, but she is teaching me everyday. Today she reminds me to accept my vulnerability and have faith that someone has a salve for my wounds.