Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"I Don't LOVE You Anymore!"

Now that Miss V is mobile, she can and does get into the J-bird's stuff, and this is deeply distressing to my son, who, like his father, has an almost compulsive need for his things to be just so, even if "just so" happens to be a giant mess all over the floor. The J-bird absolutely adores his sister, but even so....she's moving his cars. She's messing up his toy train tracks. She's sticking his puzzle pieces in her mouth. So his hands (or feet, or whatever) act before his training can catch up, and little Miss V gets knocked down, her hard-won treasure snatched from her hands, and the J-bird looks as startled as she does when he gets in trouble. As the oldest of five children, I have plenty of empathy for the plight of the child whose younger siblings constantly get into his belongings, but knocking your sister over will not...um...stand.

Anyway.

The other evening, after having been warned a couple of times for pushing Miss V away with his foot and then his hands (not hard, but still), he knocked her down again, to keep her away from something he wanted. She didn't even cry, but that was it, as far as I was concerned, and I informed him that he was going to bed. Like NOW. He has no real concept of time, so even though it was only 40 minutes early, to him, it was the end of the world. I led him upstairs and handed Miss V off to James. The J-bird became increasingly distraught as I led him through his bedtime routine of potty, handwashing, teeth brushing, and pajama donning. When he realized I really meant business, and that he really was going to bed, the freak-out got serious. And then, between bellows, he said it:

"I DON'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE, MOMMY!"

And even though I knew he didn't mean it, my heart trembled. No mother ever wants to hear this, though I'd wager a large number of mothers with small children (or teenagers) do hear it a time or two. My mind reeled for a second - where did he get that? Where am I going wrong? Etc...etc...etc.... Then I very calmly told him that it was time for bed, took him into his room, kissed him goodnight, turned off his lamp and exited the room. Later, when Miss V had been tucked into her crib, I heard the J-bird talking quietly in his room, so I went back in and sat on the edge of his bed. He said in a quiet voice, "Mommy, I do love you." I cuddled him and told him that I was glad he'd said so. I said that I know it's tempting to say mean, hurtful things when a person is angry or frustrated, but that it's important to try your hardest to remember, even in that moment, that the person you are saying those things to will be sad and hurt by what you've said. I also told him that no matter what he says, no matter what he does, even if I am unhappy with his choices, I will always, always love him.

Later, when I checked on him as he slept, I pulled his covers back up over him (he always kicks them off) and bent down to kiss his cheek. My own cheek brushed against his ear, and I was flooded with memories of holding him in the quiet dark when he was a baby - his head on my shoulder, his face in my neck, of kissing his tiny face and feeling his perfect little ears against my cheek, of dancing with him in the middle of the night as he would finally drift back to sleep, of feeling such overwhelming, unending, saturating love. I don't think I'll ever stop feeling that way. Motherhood is like this. Almost unbearable love that sustains you in the moments of stinging pain, memories of sweetness that make up for the awful, sometimes slogging difficulties, snapshots of wonder filed away in your heart to pull out and cling to when your sweet little four year old loses his mind and tells you he no longer loves you. It's worth it, of course. It's all worth it. But wow. What a ride.


2 comments:

TootsieandFruitsie said...

I was blog surfing and come across yours! Your post was so sweet it made me tear up!!! I love how you came back in and he said I Do love you. I love the heart to heart you had with him.

My little girl is only 7mths and I know the time will fly and the time will come when she says this to me. I only hope I handle it with such grace :)

take care momma

Geneva said...

Thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the entry. Congratulations on your 7 month old - such a wonderful, sweet time!