This morning was one of those warm, rainy, drizzly days where you think you can walk through it without getting wet, but before you know it you’re drenched. I was going through my normal morning routine with my three children, just trying to get them out the door to take my son to school so I could make my way to the grocery store. With the normal hiccups of the morning (getting my daughter into her stroller, getting the stroller down the stairs, etc) I asked my son for help per usual. He’s a bit of a daydreamer which I actually love, but on mornings like this, it just served as an irritant for me. I had to ask him repeatedly to put down his umbrella to help me bring the stroller down the stairs which at the time seemed like an unachievable task to him. He finally did it, but there was a quiver of the lip after my not so gentle requests for him to “hurry up” and “get it together”.
After that small hiccup, we were on our way in the rain to school. No more than 20 steps into our walk, I hear whimpering. My son had begun having issues with his umbrella and couldn’t keep up with me. The whimpering turned into whines, and the whines into “I JUST CAN’T DO IT!!” followed by sniffles and crying. *sigh* I’m not one who’s against crying, but nothing irritates me more than whining and crying over EVERYTHING. I’m one of those people that bulldozes through every frustration and I unrealistically expect the same of my son. However, what I said was, “You CAN do this. Now, get it together and follow me. You’re going to be late if we don’t stop this nonsense.” I just called my son’s feelings nonsense. Shit.
My son’s face clearly showed not just frustration now, but the beginnings of defeat. His head hung low, and his little feet rushing to catch up to my long and speedy stride, I just hoped that he would shake it off and make it to school. But could I leave it alone? Nope. I kept trying to give him advice. I mentioned how he was a big boy now. How he couldn’t act like this when he begins his taekwan-do lessons next week. And THIS and THAT and THIS and THAT. I was THAT mother. The nagging, irritating, commanding mother. What happened next broke my heart.
He just stopped and started sobbing. And really sobbing from his heart. Not the whiney, whimpers that I heard earlier. True sadness pouring from his little body. I stopped in my tracks. I no longer cared if we were going to be late. Locking the stroller, and slowly crouching down, I opened my arms and just held him. Feeling his tears trickle down my neck I knew I needed to listen to the small, gentle boy that I call my son. So, I asked him, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” He said, “I’m crying because I’m hurting. That’s what you do when you hurt. You cry. I’m just trying to be 6. And…I feel really bad about myself.” He broke down crying again and I about started crying myself as I held him.
I looked into his ocean colored eyes and really looked at him. He’s still a baby. He’s my baby. With the other two babies that I have, I’ve forgotten that he’s still one himself. Studying his little face, I began to say the words to him that I should’ve said a long time ago. I said:
“I want you to listen to me…and listen to me closely. You are stronger than you know. Do you know why? Because you’re you. I know you feel weak sometimes. That is ok. But you need to remember that you aren’t weak. You are strong. And you are beautiful. Do you know why you are strong? Because I am strong. Because you’re my boy. You will always be my boy. I want you to know something else. When I was little, I cried too. I cried a lot but was told not to cry. That’s why I said those words to you. And you know what? I was wrong. You were right. When it hurts inside, you do cry. And that’s okay. I love you little man.”
This was one of the first times my son listened to me with his eyes locked with mine in a very long time. He took every word I said and let it soak in just like he did all the other times I used those rushed words of hurry, worry and anxiety. In fact, what I fail to realize on a daily basis is that he listens to EVERYTHING I say. And he takes it to heart. And what I was saying was making him hurt. After a hug, a kiss, and another ‘I love you’, we began making our way to school again. About a block away from where we last stopped, I hear, “mama?” to which I said, “Yes little man?” “I’m still sad.” I figured he would be a little sad, but the reason why is what blew me away. I stopped again to face my little guy and asked “Why?” He looked at me with his wide innocent eyes, and said, “Because I didn’t know I was special. I thought I couldn’t be special until I was a big person.” *heart breaking again*
To this I replied:
“You are especially special because you AREN’T a big person. You’ve been special from the very day you were born and will continue to be special everyday from there forward. Do you know why you are special to me? You were my first baby. Before you, I wasn’t a mama. That means you are forever special to me in my heart. You will always be my first baby. My special baby boy.”
A hint of a smile crossed his face and a flicker of the glimmer in his eye returned.
When we arrived to school I told him that I wanted him to remember two things today.
Number 1: You ARE Special
Number 2: I love you.
We repeated those two reminders a few times before parting ways this morning. This is a morning that I will never forget. Not because it was raining. Not because we were going to be late. But because today, I was forced to take a good hard look at myself and realize that I have a lot to learn about what it means to be human. To allow myself moments to cry. To allow myself moments to feel weak. To allow myself to make mistakes and not yell at myself for them. To allow myself the time to stroll instead of hurry. But most of all…to take moments to stop and listen to my son because what he’s thinking and feeling comes directly from his heart. And that alone in itself is something that can’t be taught. It must be felt. With all my heart.
Thank you little man for being my greatest teacher this morning.