"Mommy, this is YOUR FAULT! You made this the WORST DAY IN THE WHOLE WORLD! You make EVERY day the worst day in the whole world!"
No sooner were the words out of Daniel's mouth than I saw his eyes fill with tears. Not the screaming tears he had been crying for the past ten minutes about having to put his (*gasp*) PAJAMAS ON and finish his laundry, but soft, remorseful tears, pooling up in the corners of his eyes. His legs stopped kicking me. He was almost breathless. Motionless. He look at me intently, searching my face for a reaction, hoping perhaps I hadn't heard it or maybe he could just suck the words right back in to his mouth.
Now, almost eight years into this gig, I'm no stranger to a tantrum. I feel like I can handle one with the best. I just try to hug my way right through them. I let the words roll off. But at this point it was 8 p.m., the end of a long day of being Mommy. It was a typical day- started about 5:30, grocery shopping at two stores, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, cleaning some more, laundry, wiped tears, wiped noses, wiped hands and faces, more cleaning and attempted positive redirection of about a million little boy activities. It's my usual Monday and I normally embrace it, but yesterday each child was in rare form and testing me in a different way. A way that alone would not have done much to ruffle my feathers but times four had me feeling simply defeated. One wild student is manageable, but this teacher felt like her whole class was out of control which is kind of the stuff of endless teacher nightmares! The first major discipline of the day took place with Josh before 8 am, so 12 hours later my resilience was gone.
Daniel's words hurt. I looked away. I stood up without a word. I went to my room and pulled the covers over my head, where I softly cried into my pillow until I fell asleep. Paul woke me up around nine after finishing the kitchen and putting all of the kids to bed to give me a hug.
"Daniel is really sorry"
"I know." I said.
"I'm not sure what happened, but he was really sad."
"I know, it was just a long day."
"Tomorrow will be a better day, OK?"
"I know, honey. Thanks."
And I did know. There is always tomorrow. Like Glennon from Momastery says: Forever tries. And I can't even blame Daniel for saying what he said. . .he is, after all, six. I'm his mom, still pretty much the center of his world, of course it would feel like I was to blame. And, gosh, don't we all know that feeling? Sometimes the cloudy things we don't like. . .which for a six year old are things like homework, showers, fish sticks and putting away laundry. . .block out the sun and become all we can see. Had he forgotten his joy when his long awaited Boba Fett minifig arrived in the mail? The way we held hands in the Meijer parking lot and spent a solid ten minutes admiring the lobsters? The half hour we spent cuddled on the couch reading his Lego magazine? The way we played catch in the backyard and battled with light sabers? Laying in bed last night, I am sure he might have recalled some of those things. Just like as I was hiding in my personal cocoon of tears I remembered all of the other things my little Daniel had to deal with that day. Like being up through the night with a cough. And how I let him have 50 cents for the stuffed animal machine at the grocery store but he learned they basically just steal your money with that lame-o floppy claw. And how he had to deal with his tired little brother when he got home from preschool, and tired Josh cries irrationally and frequently, but I STILL make the boys play with him. And that his new Boba Fett figure lost a part when he dropped it on the floor. And how he had to miss ice cream for dessert because he was too silly at the dinner table and miss a walk with his Daddy because he had to finish homework. AND THEN- the icing on the cake- the fish sticks, the shower and the laundry. WOW. I guess I could see why those clouds moved into his six-year-old sky.
But, it's my job, as mama, to teach him to look for the rainbow behind the clouds. To show him the grace that I would want to receive. We all have bad days (for Daniel, that's preeeeetty much always laundry day. And fish stick day. Note to self- don't put those on the same day), and sometimes there's not enough time in the day (for us grownups, that feels like pretty much every day. Note to self: don't always go to bed at eight, OK, Jen?) BUT. That's why there's tomorrow. And tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. Until someday there won't be any more tomorrows on earth, but we can hope that the choices we made each day have left behind a legacy of love. I needed Daniel to know that as much as I needed to know myself. It is humbling to know that we don't know when the end of our time with these precious people will be, and that just makes me want to choose love. Every day.
Daniel came into my room this morning just as I was putting on some sparkly earrings to motivate me for my Tuesday. I caught a glimpse of him over my shoulder in the mirror, his eyes puffy, his lip quivering. I turned around and got down on my knees before my little boy.
He could hardly look at me, but he din't have to.
He wanted to apologize, but he didn't have to do that, either.
I took him in my arms and said, "Daniel, I love you. Every day is a great day when I get to spend it with you, OK?" And I meant that. With Every. Single. Cell. Of. My. Being. Even the kicking and screaming days. All of them.
"I love you, too, Mommy. I really, really do."
I bit my lip. He started to cry a little bit, but we dusted his tears and went downstairs. The kettle was whistling and there was a new Mister Rogers mug to fill with hot water and see his magical jacket change into a sweater. It was going to be a Snappy New Day for sure. Forever tries.