Monday, March 19, 2012

Lessons from Mama

Last night, feeling rotten and fearing the week ahead, I called my Mama in tears.  Will you come?  Six hours later, she had flown up the coastline and was perched on the edge of my bed, patting my hand.  The tears rolled again, but this time, I was happy.  And relieved.  It feels so good to be the child again, sometimes.

Every time I watch Mama with my boys, I learn something about being a mother.  This morning, she was encouraging Little Guy to make his bed before they hit the sidewalks for a museum adventure.  He had been very helpful all morning, but was beginning to get cranky.   You could just see the little storm of defiance brewing behind his eyes.  Another few challenges and he was going to be outright bad.

He has this thing he does sometimes, where he'll go from turning somersaults and jumping up and down, to telling me he's sooooooo tired and his legs hurt and he really needs a snack and he doesn't know how and he just can't.  Can't clean up his toys, can't take his clothes to the hamper, can't clear his plate.  You know, the un-fun stuff.  It pretty effectively riles me, but this morning, Mama refused to let him get there.  She patiently showed him the corner of the sheet to pull on, and once he'd given it a grunting, half-hearted effort, moved on.  At her direction, he then tugged at the coverlet--so minimally that it moved only a few inches--with a little squeak that was supposed to indicate that was all the strength he had in him.  I'm sure he thought there would be a reaction to his display of grumpiness, but Mama just quickly finished pulling the coverlet up to the pillow, tucked his lovey in and announced, "There we go, Little Guy.  Tomorrow, we'll do it even better!"  And then, they were off for their adventure.

I know it wasn't how I would have approached the matter.  I would have stood my ground and made Little Guy make the bed by himself, to the level of completion that I know he can achieve.  And, given the circumstances, I probably would have encountered a good bit of resistance.  We likely would have had a timeout or two in the midst of the bed-making.  Our departure would have been delayed.  My frustration level would have been high.  Quite high.  The whole ordeal may have soured our morning.

And, really, to what end?  The bed would have been made to {3 year old-level} perfection by the 3-year old himself, but he would have been given an opportunity to lash out at his mother and become the center of attention and throw off the family's plans.  He would have wielded an awful lot of power, and I'm not sure my correction would have outweighed the excitement of the power grab.

I think it was better, in that moment, to ignore his efforts at misbehavior, squelch them before they had a chance to fully develop, gain a bit of compliance and at least symbolic obedience, and just move ON.

It's a lesson to remember.

9 comments:

The Cagles said...

that's so awesome that she was here in six hours. She must have missed you just as much as you missed her. Love moms!

Golden Gate Fam said...

I'm happy to hear your wonderful mother is up there to help. I love that lesson you learned, as well. We really do have a lot to learn from our mamas.

Aunt Betty said...

You know you are learning the leassons that you taught her : )

Julie said...

Yeah for Bettie Boyd - I know y'all are in good hands now!

whatuhaveidontwant said...

OH my eyes just welled up at this! SO sweet....perfect display of grace. And so thankful for mommas that will come at the drop of ANY hat!

Laura said...

moms are the best and i'm so glad you have one that could be here so quickly to help out this week! hope you're getting some of your strength back and that you two have some time to catch up and enjoy your time together!

Wanting What I Have said...

I got so teary reading this...and then I tried to tell The Engineer and got teary all over again. There are few things as precious as needing your mama and having her come - at the drop of a hat - in six hours. Precious! And hooray for your daddy sending her! I'm so happy for you and so thankful for your sweet mama.

Morris Middleton said...

Your mama is one of the great heroines of our time. She has such grace and presence, and she is so perfectly brilliant yet brilliantly humble. And her inborn sense of decorum -- when combined both with her extreme presence of mind and a history of positive experiences with wayward chillun -- can do nothing but result in the most successful of all possible childrearing circumstances. And she is swift with the jet transportation too! You know I adore BettieBoyd; she is at the very top of my topmost list. Please tell her I said so. And your cordial dad Brian was very nice to respond tonight (via your mama's Facebook to my question concerning your due date) that she had been called out of town to tend to the clan's imminent expansion. He thanked me for my interest. I responded that I had been interested in the Sullivans well before he and your mother ever began their own expansion of said clan. Blessings to all, Elizabeth, and much love. You're in my prayers.

The Steffens said...

Brought tears to my eyes thinking of how very lucky and blessed you are to have such a wonderful, supportive mama like that.