She’s 4 years old and she doesn’t want to listen. Or, maybe she can’t listen? The second of four children, always striving to be heard. You were always the angry one, temper flaring. At 6 months old you furrowed your brow and your face turned red when I upset you.
You’re also the one who needs me at night. Monsters can’t reach you when your legs are against me, and your arms are around me. As if I have some super mommy power to keep you safe and secure.
I feel like a big liar, because half the time I’m the monster.
You don’t like to listen. Or, maybe you struggle to listen? I don’t know. But I do know my anger swells inside of me like a tsunami after I. Told. You. TEN. TIMES. ALREADY!
Then, your eyes spring with tears and you rush to me. You cling to me “momma!” You need to know that I love you when I’m mad.
Just moments before, you are so defiant. Like a teeny, tiny tree with the strongest roots. Your feet are planted and your will is unmovable.
That is when I break. I threaten. I insist. I yell. My face changes from loving mommy with the super powers to…what? The monster?
I keep my hands from hitting you, but my words smack against you with force.
And then, you’re no longer that defiant and firmly planted little tree. You’re a branch being broken off and swept away on the wind. You reach out for me, desperate to hold on.
Sometimes, I reach out my hand right away. Sometimes, I break inside and I curse myself for losing my patience with you. Then, I take your body into my lap and stroke your hair.
I am sorry. I am so sorry.
Other times, I force my body to comfort you but my heart is still engulfed in the fire of my rage. It takes time. As I stroke your hair, as I stroke the soft skin of your arms, my heart begins to cool down. I love her so much, I think to myself. So much.
Then, why is it so hard? Why is it so damn hard?
How can such a tiny person, whom I love more than all the stars and moons and planets and skies and seas, get me so angry? Why must I twist my face and point my finger in anger?
I seek a break when I need one. I’ve read all the books on being gentle, and I believe them. I have come far from where I once was, but still I can’t kill this angry thing I become.
A child’s heart is a fragile thing. It needs tenderness, love, and patience. When it breaks, it makes the saddest sound the earth has ever known, that pained “momma?”
I’m willing to learn. I will try every trick in the book. I will move mountains, I will dive deep. Just tell me. Tell me how to kill that nasty anger. Tell me how to handle my strong-willed, beautiful child’s heart with care.
Because I love her, and she deserves my best. All my children do.