Our kids are sharing a room tonight for the first time as my son’ room is under emergency construction. Shenanigans were to be expected as it’s basically like a spontaneous camping trip for him. Sleeping in big sister’s room is quite the treat!
Regardless, he is still recovering from a brutal week with an asthma attack, violent food-allergic reaction, demo-ing his room to rid the carpet… He is wiped. I’m wiped. Getting to sleep was important, but since camping happened, sleep didn’t. After way too many trips out of his bed, which was met with patience, I needed to be a little more stern in my tone so he understood the importance of getting some sleep and not waking his sister.
“Dad, if you are mean to me, I’m gonna march outside and find a new family.” Well, that hurt. While I know his 3-year-old self didn’t mean it, it still felt like a cheap shot. I thought, “if you only knew the literal blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed in the last 72 hours to save your life, improve your life, spend hard earned money on unexpected who knows what to get you healthy…” Sounds harsh, I know. And I didn’t say it. Well, I guess I just did. I’d like to say he stayed in his bed after that but he didn’t.
As I thought about the tone he heard that prompted his response, I know I wasn’t even remotely out of line. And he’s smack in the middle of that 3yo phase of utter defiance, independence, finding himself, his boundaries, what he can get away with… War of wills. And yet, he is also the sweetest little dude I’ve ever met. I know he didn’t mean it. Yes, it still hurt like a mother, and it’s ok to validate that. Too often I am swift to invalidate his feelings, my own feelings, my wife’s, friends… How we “feel” isn’t wrong. Emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with them… Had I sent him down the street like a bowling ball, that would be a problem. Biting my tongue in the moment, giving a hug, staying gentle, that’s dang hard sometimes – especially after sleepless nights and chaotic days cleaning puke, calling 911, demo/ dump run/ Home Depot to improve his living space. Moments of weakness are real. But they don’t define us. Grace given and Grace received.
Location: Commencement Bay