I had a hard time the other day, for reasons that I'll write about in a separate post. I was curled up on the couch crying and Ian came in to ask what was wrong. I explained that sometimes just like he will wake up and his tummy will hurt or his head will hurt and he doesn't know why, that day my emotions hurt. He nodded, knowingly.
Ian went through several days/weeks/months of being pretty emotional this summer. It was exhausting for all of us. I thought we had turned a corner. Well, yes, we had turned a corner.
And this road we humans are all on has many twists and turns.
This morning, Ian woke up and seemed fine. Time got away from me/us and I told him he needed to get his shoes on while I brushed his hair. He protested a bit about his tangles but didn't flip out like he has in the past. I thought we were doing well.
As we got out to the driveway, where he should ride his bike to my folks' and I should drive to work, he looked down at the pavement and said, "well ... bye ..." I asked what was wrong and he started sobbing. "I don't even know! I'm just sad and I don't want to leave and I don't know whyyyyyyy!"
I nodded, knowingly.
He rallied and made it to my parents' house. I worked from home this afternoon and walked down there to deliver food to them as well as tell Ian he could come home if he wanted. As soon as he walked in the house, something seemed off. He declared he wanted to stay at Grandma and Pop's. "Well, who's gonna eat shrimp and broccoli with me?", I asked. I was just playing.
He walked out the front door and sat alone on the porch swing. After a few minutes, he came back inside and headed straight to my parents' bedroom. I followed him to see what was up.
So many tears.
"I WANT TO STAY HERE BUT I DON'T WANT YOU TO EAT ALONE AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DOOOOOOO!"
It was like Bill's Capslock Friday (TM) but not in a good way.
There was a great article I read recently (which of course I can't find now) about being present to your child's upset and not trying to immediately fix it. I am mindful of that, while at the same time, I hear my child sobbing "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DOOOO!" over and over. It's hard.
I listened to his various complaints. His hair is tangled. He wants to eat with me and he wants to eat shrimp and broccoli. He wants to stay with Grandma and Pop. He feels stuck. There is no solution. We should all just lie down on the floor and give up and let the vultures come for us (I'm paraphrasing).
It's hard not to get impatient. I offered a solution and before I had even finished the first part of the first sentence, he was sobbing "NO" and shaking his head. Well, what part of that plan do you not like? He didn't know he just knew it didn't sound like a solution. Fair enough. We lounged on the bed for a few minutes, me in silence, him in heaving sobs.
Eventually, we worked out a plan. He agreed to put his shoes back on (But not his socks. Those socks are dead to him this afternoon.) I would carry his back pack. He would ride his bike home. We would go upstairs for him to take a bath (he was filthy) and detangle his hair. He would chill at home and have a snack. We would eat shrimp and broccoli together for dinner. And after dinner I would take him to Grandma and Pop's for a sleepover.
As we rode/walked home, Ian said, "I don't like that I don't get to spend as much time with you as other people." I was unclear if he meant that other people took up too much of my time, but he meant that other people took him away from me. He reminded me that when he stayed with Jenna over the summer of 2016, she saw him a lot more than I did and that wasn't fair.
"I only get to see you in the morning and in the evening each day and that's only like four hours a day and that's not right because you're my mom."
I told him that I got it. And it is rough. I told him that Jenna and Anton love each other very much and he doesn't get to see her nearly as much as Ian used to in the summer of 2016 and that sucks because Anton is her husband. I broke the news that most families spend a lot of time away from each other, at different jobs, schools, hobbies, and obligations. So we have to make sure that the time we do spend together is as good as we can make it. We have to focus on the content of our time together versus the sheer numbers.
It's hard, you know? For all of us humans. We grow a person, or a person brings us into their family, or we pick a person out of all the possible persons on the planet to spend our life with, and then we have to share them with all these other people. Each of us has our own measure for how much time is "enough" or "too much." That measure changes. It may not change with the same rate as the circumstances that also change. We all feel squished or stretched and generally uncomfortable.
So sometimes we cry. And sometimes we sit on the toilet answering work emails on our phone while our loved one detangles their hair in the tub. And sometimes we deliver pork butt and Moroccan chicken to one house only to make shrimp and broccoli at another.
It's a tangled mess to balance.