Little Surprises Bring Renewed Focus

Photo: Autumn in New England is a gift… and this first autumn at the farmhouse has been just spectacular.


I would like to start this post with a comical interlude.

Context: I am changing Minor’s diaper and have decided to have Major sit on the potty because he won’t sit on it unless I tell him to and we’d had a big accident earlier in the day. It is almost nap time, so that’s a good time to go anyway. Major has disrobed so as to sit on the little potty seat. I have taken Minor to the changing table in the nursery.

Major: Uh… Mama? Mama! I think… I think I have poop on my finger!

Me, panicked: What!? Where?

Major: On my finger.

Me: Yes, baby, but where is the poop?

Major: It’s on my finger.

Me: I know it’s on your finger! Where is the poop that you touched so as to get it on your finger!?

Major: Because I think it’s on my finger. From when I touched the poop.

Me, exasperated: Where is the poop that you touched [Major]!!!! 

Major, echoing my frustration: It’s on my finger!!!! 


So I gotta wash his hand and look around for mystery poop that I never found. I’ve been keeping my nose open for it, but nothing has come up yet. That either means that my house just smells like poop and I’m nose blind (please… please, Jesus… please don’t let this be true) or a little hand ended up in a place that had poop on it for no reason (not that great either…but less horrible than the other option). Anyway, dude bro proceeded to sit on the potty and perform very little and finally I just put the two stinkers to bed.

Major and I are going through a set of relationship advances again. On Monday after school, he came to me with all seriousness to talk to me about my title. “Some of my friends at school say ‘mom’, and some say ‘mommy’, and some say ‘mama’ annnnndddd I think I like to say ‘Mama’. Is ‘Mama’ ok for me to call you? Can I call you ‘Mama’?”

“Baby, you get to call me whatever you want. That’s the fun of being my son. Only you get to give me my title.”

This brought a brightness to his face that I’ve only seen for things like cars and trains, never for little old me.

“I’m calling you ‘Mama’. I like calling you ‘Mama’!”

Of course, that sweetness is turned quite sour not much later in the day when he boldly asserts his feelings by telling me that I made him angry or I disappointed him. Oh yes, I have disappointed him on many occasions for various reasons. I forgot, though, how much he likes it when he feels like the only child in the house. I think he still thinks back on the days when it was just him and me conquering the world. It was a great reminder to make him feel like the special guy he is…

It’s been fascinating to watch him explore his emotional intelligence and discern the nuance of the spectrum of feelings. Yesterday, he explained to me that he missed Daddy because he’d gone to work on the train, “and that makes me sad.” Or that Minor had made him “very, very angry” because he’d crashed the cars when the two of them were playing. Where just two months ago, he’d blow up like an atomic bomb over every little thing, he’s figured out that words matter and that he’s free to express himself with them and he gets farther in negotiations when he does so.

Don’t get it twisted. The child can still blow all of the air out of the room over the seemingly insignificant. But he’s getting better.

What’s been an exercise of my patience has been the way that he has handled my feelings. He seems very sensitive to my mood and tone, covering his ears sometimes when he anticipates that I’ll be angry. It’s given me pause and made me reflect on how I handle situations: am I, too, blowing up over nothing? Should I be quick to empathy here instead of annoyance or anger?

This is going to be counter to the mommy internet, but I’ve decided that I’m not always going to hide my frustration when the boys do things that are simply and obviously out of bounds. This is an age of boundaries, and I believe that the firm boundaries that we set now lay the foundations for the more wiggly boundaries that we’ll have to deal with as they get older. I try my best not to yell first, but start the negotiation with even tone and firm explanation… but that doesn’t always work! I’m not a perfect mother… will totally never be.

I write all this because it is interesting to have a walking mirror. I also write it because he reminds me that he is actually focused on me from time to time. Where in the beginning of age 3, he and I drifted apart in ways, we have been having moments of clarity and understand that I feel like I haven’t had with him in a long time. I often feel like the child pays the most minimal of attention to me, saving all of his good humor and energy for when he’s with his father. But no, he’s here with me, studying me. Scary, no? I’ve gotta stop beating up little old ladies when I walk down the street…

I really pray that Minor doesn’t drift apart from me that way Major has over this age. He’s my snuggle baby and it would make me sad to lose that. Major was never up for the snuggle, opting to jump on me or run away instead… but Minor… I’d mourn it. I really would.

I’m home without babies and the house is gloriously quiet. Today is one of those Fall days that I appreciate most: the sky is gray and overcast, the ground is less than lush, losing its interest and luster as it goes dormant, and that means that the eyes can do nothing else but feast upon the pops of color in the trees. While the color season has not been as robust this year as it has in the past, one still cannot help but marvel at the brilliance. There is a magic to it, if you believe in such things. It is a reminder of how alive the world is, how small we are within it, and how lucky we are to witness its beauty if we should only stop and look.

My Quiet Thoughts will be along these lines… barring something crazy happening between now and then.

If you are so lucky, dear reader, head outside for a little while and take in the colorful feast. And remember that you are small under the trees, but just as marvelous. And that you, too, are capable of wondrous things. If there are magic in the trees and in the season, just think of what power you must have?

See you Friday.


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