I'm tired and it's not even mid morning. I woke at 6:45 this morning (a very respectable hour) and, as usual, Geoff had already left for work. By my side, in a row, were Matthew, Lizzie, and Seth. I think Matthew had been there since some time during the night, so he was still sleeping; Lizzie and Seth were wide awake, watching me, and I smiled a morning greeting at them. It was lovely to see my three kids curled up alongside me. I reached over Matthew and Lizzie to pull the blanket over Seth and he smiled at me; I rubbed his arm and then Lizzie's and then wrapped myself up again so that we could all wake up slowly together.
Sadly, that lovely moment ended about ten seconds later, with the kind of stuff that continues to perplex me. As I lay there smiling at the two kids who were awake, Seth purposefully rolled off of the edge of the bed and started crying. Before I could even get out of bed to go to him, he jumped up and raced to his bedroom (leaving the door open), now screaming at the top of his lungs. From zero to one hundred in ten seconds flat.
What? I thought. What just happened here? As I stood there thinking for a second, trying to wake up, trying to figure out how to handle the situation, I felt my frustration sink down into my bones and my momentary happiness at a good start to the day dissolved. I just wanted to crawl back into bed and cry, and not have to deal with this stuff any more.
But instead I went to see Seth and sat down on his bed with him and asked if he wanted a hug. He nodded; still screaming, he climbed onto my lap and I held him. We just sat like that for several minutes. At that point, I heard the other two kids down the hall in my bedroom, and could tell by the heightened voices that intervention was going to be needed within the next minute. I told Seth that I needed to go and check on the other kids and said that he was welcome to come with me and we could cuddle up together in bed. He refused to come and lay on the floor, banging the door over and over, screaming, while I went to make peace with the other kids.
That pretty much described the next 75 minutes...the oldest and youngest wanting to cuddle on my bed (a usual ritual around here...though usually with all three), and the middle screaming at the top of his lungs in his room, except for the minutes that I went to spend with him, when he was quiet(er).
Finally, after well over an hour of this kind of back-and-forth, it came out that Seth was furious because he wanted to be the one lying immediately beside me in Geoff's/my bed, rather than Matthew. Sigh.
I have to say that my first reaction, when I finally got this out of Seth, was of inner rage. He didn't see that, but wow, was I mad. I get so tired of the possessiveness - in fact, knowing now what I know about why he was mad, I should have been able to figure it out sooner because I know how needy he is of being very very close to me. But really?? Really?? All of that because he wanted to lie two feet closer to me that he had been, when most of the time he's the one squished up beside me?? I thought about that, and listened to the other two kids squabbling in the other room, and I wanted to leave the house in that moment, and keep walking.
But instead, with feelings of anger and resentment hopefully buried deeply enough, I picked Seth up again and held him close for a few seconds. I prayed during those seconds because I didn't want my anger to leak through. Then I took a deep breath and said that I was glad that Seth wanted to be close to me and that I wanted to be close to him too. I asked him if he understood that, and he said yes. I gave him an extra squeeze and told him I loved him. I then said to him that on mornings where he is lying next to me, that I love that. And then I said that I also love lying next to Matthew and Lizzie sometimes and that, as hard as it is, he needs to take turns with them. I said that I love him just as much if he's lying on the other size of Matthew or Lizzie, and that I knew he loved me too. I also said that if he felt that he needed to cry about not lying right beside me, he could go into his room and cry and that I would come to visit him like I did this morning - and that it was ok with me if needed to cry. Again, he said that he wanted to lie "right beside" me and I said that I would also like to do that, and that I would look forward to when it was his turn to be beside me. He gave me a squeeze, then wanted to be put down so that he could go and play with Matthew.
Now, as we approach mid morning, we have deferred school for a while because Seth is cheerful again and the kids are doing a craft beside me here while chattering about stuff.
But, though it might sound silly, I have to tell you that the experience of earlier took pretty much everything out of me. I think I handled it ok (at least I hope I did), but it felt like the day was wrecked for me. I went into the bathroom and just cried for a few minutes after it was all settled because it just seems like too much sometimes. I think a good part of that was the unexpectedness of the moment. When I first woke up and saw this lovely sight of my children beside me, I was joyful, revelling in a moment such that I've dreamed about for so long. And the frustration of trying to understand what had happened and how I could help my boy took a toll.
Overall things are going so much better, and I know that I have three such awesome kids. It's just deflating when the day has an unfortunate start, I guess.