Isn't that how the song goes?
I saw it tonight, and it shocked me into a new mama reality.
Ward and I were talking about his school and how his friend, Gabrielle, is moving away next week--her dad got a new position in Alabama and they will be leaving right away.
And even though he knew it was coming, he was suddenly overly concerned.
"But we can go see her, right?" (Well, honey, I doubt we'll go to Alabama, but if we do, I promise we will see if we can get together with her).
"But we can fly there, right mom? It's not that far!" (Well, dear, I know it sounds easy, but it isn't that simple. We have no reason to go to Alabama and mommy and daddy both have to work and we can't just pay for plane tickets to go on a vacation."
"But why can't we build a house in Alabama right by hers!? It's warm there and I like to be warm!" (Well, sweetheart, we live here and we love to play in the snow and we love living by our families and our jobs are here and we have many friends here...)
And it pretty much went downhill from there.
After establishing that Gabrielle really had to leave and we really aren't going to Alabama anytime in the foreseeable future, he lost it.
We're in the middle of making cookies and chatting and suddenly, he is bawling uncontrollably, shoulders heaving, tears streaming down his face.
Now, I'm not a very patient person. I have some empathy, but in terms of sympathy, I pretty much missed out on the gene. My typical reaction would be to calmly tell him to cut it out and this is what's happening and we're going to have to make the best of it blah, blah, blah.
But, right as I was preparing to go into my spiel, I looked at him and saw that little almost-four-year-old face wrought with emotion. Anger and sadness and hurt.
And I washed the cookie dough off my hands and hugged him. And held him. And told him how sorry I was that he was so sad and so angry and how I wish it were simpler and how I understood what it felt like for someone to go away and I'm so sorry that he has to feel that way.
And that little, independent, stubborn boy cried with his head on my shoulder and told me how angry he was and how sad and as I held him and comforted him, I saw myself, years later, sitting on that same couch and hugging him over tough days in school or mean kids or a bad game or a hard breakup and I knew, in that moment, that these charges we've been blessed with, who bring to our lives such infinite happiness, need so much good and loving care.
Most of the time, I say the wrong thing and I react too quickly and I speak too harshly or without much thought, but sometimes, there is a moment of perfect clarity that comes like an early morning sunbeam through the window, and I see all things in perfect form, and I get it right.
Tonight, I had that moment.
I didn't react negatively.
I understood him.
I mean, I didn't really, in my adult world, I'm connected to everyone I want to be connected to, whether in person or not, but I saw, in his eyes, the thought of what it meant to never see someone again. Someone he played with every single day of his life. The idea of permanence, the frustration of trying different solutions, the anger at me for telling him that it just won't work.
So many emotions in such a little person.
And I knew that his little heart was broken and I couldn't fix it, but I needed to just sit with him and without doing anything to fix it, I had to just let. him. be.
And I did.
After things calmed down and we talked a bit, Ward and I decided that he could make a wonderful picture for Gabrielle--a drawing of her, complete with jewelry (she's quite enamored, I understand) as a memento to take with her. We also talked about the possibility of being pen pals and other such things to keep in touch, though honestly, I think much of this is just a reaction to the first time something he loves doesn't come back.
And then we did a lot of cuddling and enjoyed some of the cookies we baked and had a peaceful, happy night. And I'm sure tomorrow, my patience will slowly retreat to it's typical level and he will do seven trillion things that drive me crazy and I will put him in timeouts and threaten to take toys away and all of the usual chaos that happens here on a daily basis.
But for now, my little boy's heart is mending and I helped apply the band-aid.