I called a friend today, sobbing because I was struggling to parent Bean and feeling caught between a rock and a hard place. I wasn't sure how the rest of the day would go and feared my temper would get the best of me, as I was drawing from empty reservoirs of patience and my preschooler seemed hell-bent on negotiating and/or controlling evvvvvvvvvverything. He even took it upon himself to invite someone to our house to play and then tell them they could stay for lunch. I was spent. I wasn't feeling like a guide through life, I was feeling like a servant. I actually cried to The Beast earlier in the day that I was feeling like Bean's hostage today - what a horrible, horrible way to feel about a person I love so much, and a relationship I value so greatly!
I learned today that I can definitely count on my friend A (A, you can out yourself if you want, but I didn't want to impose on you even more!). I took Bean to her house, she and I told him to go play, and she hugged me while I failed miserably at composing myself (we're not talking "oh, can you take him for a few hours?" We're talking sniffling, red-eyed, sobbing, wet eyelashes, and an implied "I don't know what the hell I'm doing and I don't know when I'll be back for him.") She hugged me and told me I'm an awesome mom, and that I'm so strong, and it will all be ok.
I came home and got a text from The Beast saying I had done the right thing - "good job."
I snuggled and nursed Squeak to sleep and then sat next to him and journalled about what had gone on today (really, it goes back to yesterday). And I actually came away feeling empowered. It's true! I showed up to a friend's house at a pretty low point and came away thinking "wow. I rocked that breakdown!"
I swallowed my pride (I was sniffling and sobbing getting everyone loaded into the car as my next door neighbor played banjo on his porch. I wasn't exactly having this meltdown in the privacy of my home.) and I did what was best for my child.
This became so crystal clear to me as I journalled; I don't think Bean will remember today. From his perspective, it's the day I cried and then changed our plans from something fun together to something fun at A's house. And he got to come home in someone else's underwear - he might remember that because it seems like the kind of random stuff he currently stores in his memory.
But today is (almost certainly) not going to be the day he tells his future therapist about. Today will be a day he reads about in the journal I keep for him and his brother. And I'll be interested to hear his reaction!
All that is not to say that things are rosey now. Oh no. The Beast and I are trying to figure out how we want to parent through this. Bean is so smart and passionate. He has moved past the "why?" phase and obviously gained a lot of knowledge from it - both about how the world works and about what makes a good answer to the question "why?" Now he is in a phase of "THIS IS WHY!!!!" (If I could make your computer scream that at you, I just might.) He doesn't just tell us he does or does not want something. No, he tells us why he feels that way and commences negotiations. I could give you lots of examples and, separately, they are hilarious. Together? Not so much.
In any case, I am so grateful for A - and for the community of moms* I am a part of generally. It's a community that is honest about our struggles and thrilled by each others' victories and generally bucks the Myth of the Supermom. (<---read that link. It is awesome.)
I am thinking about who else is on my mental list of people to call when I'm struggling as a parent. I have a few people who have explicitly put themselves on that list, and I feel like I should have their phone numbers written down in one place so I don't even have to think about who to call.
Do you have such a list? I think we all need such a list!!
*There are also (of course!) dads in our community, and they are also awesome. But they seem, somehow, to not suffer with as much of the unnecessary and unproductive guilt that we mothers do? Or feel the weight of that obnoxious demand to be "SuperDad?" Or maybe it just looks different on them, or we don't hear about it as much because we women are too busy gabbing to each other? I would love to hear the perspectives of dads on everything I ever write in this blog, and I know a few of you read it :-P