Photo: What are those, you’re wondering? Oh, no big deal… just real life raspberries growing in my freaking front lawn!! YEAH!!!! Hopefully I’ll get some before the birds do!
Yesterday, Ursa Major announced right after nap that he wanted to watch me cook dinner “because I’m your sous chef!” I didn’t really believe him but told him that he could if he wanted to. He hasn’t done it in a while, so I figured he’d get lost in fighting with his brother as usual and forget all about me. So when he went and found his little red chair to stand on and very clearly asked, “What are we making today, Mommy Chef?” Well, I suppose I was pleasantly surprised.
Three has been a little rough on my relationship with my eldest son. Where he is fiercely independent to begin with, his growing maturity and size have presented new problems and annoyances for me. Suddenly, he’s a “big boy” and wants to do everything for himself, except for certain things that I expect him to do, like try the potty or calm himself down when he’s frustrated with his brother. He insists that he’s a “big boy” and Lord knows, he is getting bigger by the day (he is as tall as a 4 year-old. Seriously.), so I see him as one. That’s my fault, I know. So I’ve been quick to annoyance rather than empathy when he has had his toddler moments. I have a lot of excuses for my impatience and none of them really matter: I’ve been impatient when I should have exhibited better behavior. I have to take better care of myself and manage my stress level so that I can take better care of the boys.
I guess I wrote all of that to say that I wasn’t really prepared to have those pleasant moments with my eldest yesterday. He stood next to the cutting board and successfully labeled all of the veggies I was cutting. I explained to him the difference between a slice and a dice and he was sincerely interested. I let him have a big chunk of the red pepper that I’d cut, and I let him get a good smell of the fresh garlic I’d sliced. I washed fresh spinach and put it in the salad spinner, and he was all too delighted to push the button and watch the green spin ’round. When I showed him the water that his spinning had left at the bottom, he let out the most wonderful “whoa” and I couldn’t help but marvel at watching him wonder about it for a moment. Then he then watched me saute the veggies and brown the ground beef. He even played with his own set of tongs and helped me stir. By the time I’d gotten the base for our sloppy joes going, he was tired of being attentive, but not squirmy or whiny about it. You could just tell that he was straining to pay attention. I quietly informed him that his favorite afternoon show (Zack and Quack) was on, and he was grateful for the out. He didn’t exit before giving me a hug and saying, “You make delicious things, mommy!”
I realized about halfway through the experience that we were having a moment that I was going to hold on to. This was a moment that will flash into my mind’s eye when we’re both standing in his own kitchen someday. I’ll say something about him holding the tongs with both hands and he’ll laugh and nod.
Ursa Major is a sweet child, so eager to help. He just wants to feel useful and I totally understand that feeling. We’ve been trying to give him opportunities to do that: He has been taking the monthly trip to Costco with Daddy, and is too excited to help bring the smaller items into the house. It’s too adorable to see him barely holding on to the 2-pack of Pam or the 4-pack of unsalted butter and hearing him say sweetly, “here, Mommy! These are for you! We brought these here for you! I’m going to put them into the house!” I know that these changes have been building up over time, but when you really notice them, it feels like he just changed over night.
I love my son. He’s wonderful, and I’m proud of him. Three feels harder than Two for some reason. I do my best to give him the affection that he wants and needs, but I know for every hug and kiss, I’m disciplining, too. I try not to be too hard on him, but I know that I’m not a lenient mom. I’m strict and I can’t help myself, and while I know that most of my reasoning is sound, I also know that it takes a toll on him and our relationship. I’m still looking for the necessary balance needed so that we can have more moments like we had yesterday. It has a lot more to do with me than it does with him: I’m the one who has to be patient and empathetic. I have to be more disciplined about myself before I can discipline either of their behavior. It’s a hard line to walk when you’re feeling so tired. It’s been a marathon with very few, if any, breaks. I’m not a machine, you know?
It’s an actually hot day in Massachusetts, so we’re inside today. I’m happy to say that the overhead fans seem to be doing their jobs! The windows are closed, even upstairs, and I’m in the office with the fan on and I don’t feel hot. All of the windows have the shades drawn and I’m keeping the lights off. Thank God it cools off at night. I’m really hoping that we don’t have to put in any window AC units. I think if we can manage the light and the air, we should be able to do this summer without AC. They are just such a colossal use of energy…
Friday is the last Friday of June! How the hell did that happen? See you then for Quiet Thoughts.