I am listening to Silas and Eden play "baby" -- Silas is the baby and Eden is "little mama." These role play games are brand new, born largely out of cousin-play. Every time Slias "cries" for Little Mama, I hear Eden say, "I'm here, I'm here" in a soothing voice.
For months I have marveled at the fact that while sobbing, both of my children will cry, "I want my mama!" when their noses are only inches from my face. At first I thought it was funny, but then I realized what they were saying -- they want their mama, their ultimate ally, the adult who soothes and calms them, who can bring them back from the scariness of feeling so out of control and accept them along the way.
So often when a tantrum flares up, I watch myself become cool and impatient in response to my own helplessness. And they, of course, feel me shut down. The cry "I want my mama" is their cry for help, their way, unknowingly, to call me back -- it is my reminder to gulp in deep breaths, to think before I say anything else, to remember I am their only mama, and to start again.
So like Eden, in their little game, I hope to be able to stay with them, to look in their panicky little faces, even when they are throwing themselves on the ground because of shoes or losing a race, and say, "I'm here, I'm here."