May 26, 2008

Defining Motherhood

Yesterday I rode the Toddler Roller Coaster, bigtime. I don't know if it was because Sam hasn't been sleeping that well, if it was because daddy had been out of town for several days, or if he is just the stubbornest kid ever, but he had the worst meltdown I've seen in his two years.

The day was going well. We got up and got ready, hung around the house for a little while, but I decided that we should go out and enjoy the sunshine. I decided we should go to a local lake and walk around the path. It's shady, so not too hot, and short enough that Sam could walk around in and be okay. On the way there I stopped and got Sam some chicken nuggets and fries. Side note: I am impressed with the fact that the kids meal at Arby's comes with a BOOK! Awesome.

We drove to the lake and got out of the car. We were happy. I tried to get Sam to eat at a picnic table, but he didn't want to so I decided I would just carry the lunch while we walked until he was ready to snack on it. We got about 10 feet down the path before my delusion of having a nice afternoon at the park began to shatter.

We came to an area that had a bench, and in front of the bench the trees opened up to the water. Not a beach, mind you, just a little kind of swampy area. There was a young couple playing with their dog and puppy in the water. That's when Sam decided that the only thing he wanted in the whole world was to go into that water. Unfortunately for him, I did not want that. I didn't have a change of clothes for him, didn't have a towel, didn't want him to get all dirty. He tried to go around me. He tried to crawl down the large step down to the sandy/muddy area. He whined. At first it was like a game. I said No. I said No. I said No. Do you see a pattern developing here? Finally I took him and sat him on the bench. I told him that he was not going to go down there and that we could go for a walk or play elsewhere. He cried and fought against me. I kept pulling him back.

At some point it became a different kind of battle. Even if it would have been easier to back down, I COULDN'T, because now I was at the point of no return in standing my ground. Guess what, Sam? I DO have the ability to be more stubborn that you, and I can physically remove you from a situation. I had to carry Sam back to the car, kicking and SCREAMING. People were staring at me. It sucked. I somehow managed to strap the wailing, flailing two year old into his car seat. I shut the door and stood outside the car, trying to breathe deeply and catch my breath, but I couldn't stop the tears.

Maybe it was being with Sam almost 24 hours a day (including nights since he was sleeping like crap). Maybe it was sleeping on the couch and my back aching from the night before because he woke up at 3 AM and the only thing that would calm him down was Blue's Clues. Maybe it was a culmination of stresses in my life, thinking about his possible speech delay, and wondering why he NEVER, EVER listens to me. We left the park, Sam in the backseat wailing, me in the front seat sobbing.

It was awful. I felt defeated. I wished that I wasn't alone and could just have a few minutes to myself, but there was no one else. I wished that husband was there to help me.

After a few minutes, we both got our shit together and stopped crying. I decided to try again - partly because I REALLY needed for Sam to run around somewhere so he would take a nap in the afternoon. We went to a fenced in little toddler park near our house. It was sunny and we were the only ones there. Sam had a great time. He played in the rocks, he climbed up and down the little stairs on the playground, he went in the swing and laughted. He ate some of his lunch and drank water out of a Dasani bottle. Later, we went into the grass. I lay down and we played and rolled around and he smiled, and laughed, and I laughed. We both felt like this:

This is my definition of motherhood. This day. The hardest times of your life, followed immediately by so much happiness and pride and love that your heart feels like it's going to burst. And I wouldn't trade it for a billion dollars.

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