“Cherish every moment.” The grandmotherly woman at the store advises. I know she means well, and I am sure one day I too will be guilty of such nostalgia, but I think back on her comment with bitter irony while standing in the parking lot outside the closed car door.
Moments earlier, I had practically thrown my screaming 4-year-old into the back seat after scraping him off the grocery store floor and carrying his flailing, wailing body through the store to the car outside while all eyes watched in judgment. “What’s wrong with him?” someone dared ask. If I knew, would we be in this situation? I wondered, but kept my mouth closed and my feet moving.
Maybe he wanted to close the car door by himself? This is a possibility since his resistance started in the parking lot and ended with him as a puddle in the produce section. Maybe he didn’t feel like going to the grocery store? Maybe he was picking up on my stressed out we are running late type energy?
Later, I think again of the woman’s comment (advice? admonishment? warning?), when I am on the porch crying. I am feeling like the worst parent in the universe after his fit continued all the way home, through two sort of timeouts, (if you count putting him back in his room eight times as timeout), near hysterical yelling, multiple threats to take away all of his toys, and finally walking away, both of us in tears.
I was so angry – fist clenching, not seeing straight angry. I was pissed off, angry at my gorgeous, dimple-cheeked, angel-faced, only son. I was so frustrated and so overwhelmed.
I was angry at myself, too. Why wasn’t anything I was doing working? The time outs? The counting to three? Why was I getting so mad and actually yelling at this small overwhelmed being who I am supposed to guide and protect? Why was this little devil in disguise spitting at me and calling me a poopy face? Why the hell is this parenting thing so hard? How could I possibly cherish this moment?
I refuse to cherish this moment, and the other moments like these when the dog is barking, the kids are fighting, the dinner is burning, and the fucking sky is falling. In these moments, I just want to hold it together and make it through to the next moment. I just want to breathe until the next moment arrives. The moment when he comes out of his room, tear-streaked and trembling, and gives me the world’s most fierce hug. The moment when I tell him I am sorry that I yelled in his sweet little face. The moment when we curl up together to share an it’s nice to be calm after the storm story book cuddle.
Instead of cherish every moment, I hope I remember to tell my new mom friends (and maybe any moms I happen to see randomly at the grocery store) that it won’t always be this hard, or maybe it will, but you will get through it. Just breathe deep and cherish as many moments as you can, the ones worth cherishing.