The baby is just on the edge of 18 months old. The toddler is several months into three. I am living in a sea of words and phrases I do not quite understand.
“MAMA, MER EES EN BABY! EEEEEEEE OH SNACK. NO! NO! NO! NO! EEEEEEE OH!”
Well, when you put it that way.
The 5 and 7 year old are thinking in run-on sentences and speaking with moderate ease.
We are all talking. To and around each other all day. Everyone has important things to say even if we don’t entirely understand what those words mean.
There is a mother in the same house, just shy of 34 and sometimes, she talks too.
“You guys are driving me completely insane!”
“I am done. DONE! NO more parenting for the day!”
“Why must everything always be a fight?”
And, I wonder what they are hearing when the words are already out, in our small universe. Pulsating and moving around their heads and hearts as they continue to spin and spin in the living room.
Do they hear the, “I love you!” behind the words? I think yes and then jump to, just perhaps and sadly, not always.
Yesterday, my son was in his well worn space on the stairs, thinking about his behavior and my eldest said, “Even when mommy and daddy are really mad at you, they still love you.”
Why didn’t I say that?
My 7 year old, in her infinite wisdom and speaking from her old soul, found the perpetual context of parenthood. “Even when…mommy and daddy still love you.”
But, in this grand display of understanding, where I should have found comfort, I found another feeling. Shame.
I have a neighbor; a former educator. My children flock to him. They trespass on his property. The baby stomps through their garden. They hang wildly from the bows of their still new red leaf maple. They makes themselves at home. He is eternally patient and kind.
We once spoke about his daughters. “You know, I don’t think we ever shouted at them. We just loved them so much.”
Ouch. Shame burns.
Cue internal dialogue wearing devil red, “I shout. I don’t love my children enough.”
And, I do shout. I shout because the soft words leaving my body fall on pieces of furniture and have no impact. I shout because there are four strong voices to my one and I shout because I don’t know how not to shout. My mother shouted. So do I.
It is like an undercurrent in our day. Every morning I say, “Today, I do it differently. Today, I make a different choice. I will not yell. I will not scream. I will use my softer words.”
And then, someone hits someone with a truck and someone hands their sister a steak knife and someone says, “You NEVER let me do ANYTHING!” and then the mother is swept away by the current of the loud words that roll like waves and then retreat like the tide.
In the quiet of the evenings, I reflect. I make promises I don’t know how to keep and I say, “Tomorrow, I will do it differently. I will make a different choice. I will not yell. I will not scream. I will use my softer words.”
That day is today. That day is everyday. Wish me patience and understanding.
Ancora Imparo (I am still learning.) – Michelangelo (age 87)