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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Mommy?

Last Friday was one of those summer days that a mother dreads. We had no plans until 2:30 p.m. and both kids were up by 7:30 a.m. so I knew it was going to be a long morning. It was going to be in the low 90’s with high humidity so go to the park wasn’t an appealing thought to me or the kids. My parents who live right next door were both busy. We had already been to the Children’s Museum and Bounce U earlier that week. I needed to return something to Target but both kids immediately starting grumbling about that – even with the prospect of getting a hot pretzel. Target has really good pretzels and they keep my kids quietly occupied in the shopping cart for about 20 minutes. Since they weren’t thrilled at the idea of going to Target and since I didn’t absolutely have to go I decided we would just stay home and play. Great idea for the kids not so great idea for Mommy.

We ended up playing “pirate ship and baby”. How does one play pirate ship and baby you might ask? Well let me explain. Sarah and I toted three baby dolls (Stella, Riley and an unnamed naked doll with wild hair), diapers, bottles, baby clothes and several books around in our arms while we followed Peter from bedroom to bedroom. He informed us that he was the pirate captain and we were the first mates. As mateys we had to PRETEND to hoist flags, swab decks, throw anchors, prepare meals, etc. all while Peter was telling elaborate pirate stories. We did this for one hour.

One. Hour.

I thought I was going to cry at about the 15 minute mark but since we didn’t have anything else that we had to do and no where else we had to be I decided to just deal with it and live in the moment. Both kids were having lots of fun and I have to admit that I enjoyed it to up to a point. Sarah was even allowing Peter to boss her around for a change. That never happens. Ever.

So for one hour we played this and life was good until I casually said, “O.k. Mommy is going downstairs now. You guys can keep playing but I am going to fold the laundry.” And then all hell broke loose. There was screaming and wailing and whining and gnashing of teeth. There were red faces, tears, and snot. There were two kids jumping up and down on the beds, rolling around on the floors and general bedlam.

When my kids get crazy like this the only thing I can do (other than give in and play pirate ship and baby for another hour. Which was not going to happen.) is to tell them I love them and remove myself from the situation. I headed down the stairs and even though I felt guilt at ending the game after ONE HOUR I also was proud of myself that I played the game for ONE HOUR. I’ve mentioned before how much I don’t enjoy playing pretend games so I felt good with my accomplishment. My kids being kids however just wanted more.

They followed me down the stairs and as they began to stop their crying and whining and gnashing of teeth Sarah, my beautiful darling daughter whom I love more than the world itself, said to me,

“Next time can we have another mommy? I don’t want this one anymore.”

That stopped me in my tracks.

My kids have said mean and hurtful things before. Peter’s usual response when I tell him no to something is “I don’t like you!” or sometimes even “I don’t love you!”. I usually just respond with “But I love you” in an annoying singsongy voice and that just makes him huff even harder.

But to ask for another mommy. Because they don’t want this one anymore. Wow. I was floored. I don’t even remember my response but she must have realized she actually hurt my feelings because she started to backpedal.

“Well I mean we should have two mommies AND two daddies and blah, blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t remember the rest of her “explanation” but it was clear she was trying to cover her tracks. I like how she brought in Daddy as if wanting another daddy would make the fact that she said she wanted another mommy less hurtful. Even as I was standing there trying to figure out a response I was impressed with the fact that she immediately realized she hurt my feeling and that she was quickly trying to “explain” her statement.

I’m not sure why this statement hurt so much. Maybe it stung because it came from baby. My last baby. Maybe it stung so much because she said it so matter-of-factly so pointedly. I guess she is starting to take steps toward her inevitable independence. I guess I was hoping to wait until her surly teenaged years before I had to hear anything like that. I guess I was secretly hoping that she would always put me on a pedestal and always look up with adoring eyes. I’m her mother after all! I deserve that! Don’t I??

It’s been a week since she asked for another mommy and I’m sure she’s forgotten her request. I am over my initial hurt and realize that it was something said in the heat of the moment and not something she really meant. But we’ve turned a corner now and there’s no going back. She’s hurling down the road to being her own big girl and getting farther and farther away from being mommy’s little girl. I guess she can’t be my baby forever but I’m going to tighten my grip on her little hand for a little while longer.

Another mommy?? Sorry kid. You are stuck with this one.


Pam said...

I never paid any attention to pretzels in Target. That is probably because I am an extremely focused shopper. When I was little, we used to get pretzels at Sears, which always made the shopping trip a little more tolerable.

I cringe at the thought of my kids saying hurtful things to me, and my heart hurts for you. Don't take this as sounding know-it-all, but maybe the next time something like that happens (and I hope it DOESN'T happen), use it as a teachable moment. Sit her (or him) down and talk about how words hurt, and you can talk about how God has put the two of you together, and He doesn't make any mistakes, etc.

By the way, I applaud you for not just plunking the kids down in front of the TV. Good for you for making the effort to play with them. I know what you mean about the murder and mayhem that begins as soon as I leave!

Low 90's doesn't sound quite so bad after having low 100's!

Megan Cobb said...

It's amazing how they know the EXACT right thing to say to hurt you. But there's grace in the fact that they also know the EXACT right thing to say to make you feel all wonderful and mushy and loved, too. I'm just surprised that they have both abilities at such an early age. I don't think I expected that before I had Bean. Love your blog. I'll be back to read more!