By Debra Monte Wetzel
It was not a particularly great day right from the start. My sons and I just could not get in sync. Everything all day was just a bit off. We never found our rhythm and we were constantly getting in each other's way and on each other's nerves.
My eleven-year-old was suffering from altered hormone levels (as was I). The harder we tried to reach a common ground the more divided we became. And unfortunately, our mode of communication consisted mostly of shouting at each other instead of speaking.
My seven-year-old's voice was elevated an octave or two above normal as he tried to make his point several times. He is usually able to turn down the volume once he has my attention, but that just didn't happen. The noise level in the house was gaining momentum.
My two-year-old insisted on playing 52-card pickup as he raced through the house on his tiny trike, narrowly escaping peril at every turn. Most days he amuses himself, but he too just couldn't settle down. He did manage to stop to nurse every minute or two and then carry on making messes throughout the house.
Fortunately, my nine-year-old was no trouble at all. But his continuous piano playing in the next room, sounding wonderful of course, just added to the difficulty of all of us overcoming our communication problem.
Things continually went from bad to worse as the day progressed. It finally came to a head as we made our way through the aisles of the grocery store at the bewitching hour before supper. Of course everyone was both tired and hungry. And we were totally out of everything at home so we needed to pick up more than just a few things.
It was then and there that my two-year-old insisted on jumping in and out of the kid-friendly car/shopping cart as I tried desperately to push through the narrow and crowded aisles full of non-amused shoppers. We got so many dirty looks I actually began to break a sweat. Nothing and no one was on our side.
After an hour of torture for all of us, we finally made our way out to the car where the baby refused to get into his carseat. Wrestling with a two-year old was the last thing I wanted to do. Stopping just short of crying myself, I bribed him with a lollipop just so we could get home.
Once home he proceeded to lie on the floor in full tantrum mode. I walked around his little body spread across the floor as I put the groceries away and prepared dinner. About an hour later after dinner was served and cleaned up, I was finally able to take him up for his bath. But we took a detour instead.
While looking at his beautiful little face on the way up the stairs I was able, in my mind's eye, to see a glimpse of him once again as an infant. The light must have touched his large green eyes and his tiny mouth just right. Now that he is a two-year-old, it seemed we were both often frazzled and frustrated. Instead of making a beeline to the tub as planned, (where we'd likely struggle again), we headed to the bedroom. I took an old photo album down from the shelf in the closet. He and I lied on our tummies on top of the bed and spent 20 minutes going back in time.
It was truly wonderful, and just what we needed. It enabled me to slow down enough to appreciate how quickly time passes us by. In pausing and cultivating a few moments of gratitude, we were able to relax, reflect and turn the day around. It seems that only a moment ago he was wrinkled and pink; now he stands before me defiant and strong. Those traits, while difficult for the two of us to deal with on a daily basis, will refine and help him as he grows. I am raising him to be powerful and strong in this world. I can't be angry when he is only exerting the freewill I wish him to possess.
I wouldn't want it any other way.
Debra Monte Wetzel homeschools her four sons in Saratoga, New York. She has written for The Link, and Back Home Magazine. A poem, Bliss, appeared in the summer issue of Quiet Mountain Essays.