Writing about things after the fact always make them prettier than they were: right now I am sitting in my most unpacked corner of the living room, drinking a beer, am freshly showered skin still tingling from the scalding water, watching the sky darken out the window while Ben's making a bath for the kids with music playing in the bathroom (they can't get over it). But that is now.
Last night as I sat practically under the table texting Ben a message (I am unfit to be a mother right now! -- Eden is screaming in time-out in the bathtub. Silas and I have been at each other all afternoon -- Please come home!!) I realized I was more than tired; I was plain worn out. Six days after our move, the house looks calmer, a little bit settled in some corners, but days have been constant chains of errands, and time in the house is a constant shuffling things around. And so, I landed at zero tolerance, especially for Eden, the rascal child I've heard about but haven't parented until now, who, every time I turn around is into a new kind of mischief: lotion in the hair, Sharpee on the toys, stickers on the floor etc. The most frustrating part is that I don't know to speak so she'll hear.
Tonight, after a dawn-garage sale and another day of doing, I hit the same wall while Ben was on a bike ride. Eden had just knocked my computer on the floor, then sneaked off to the bathroom to cover her face in smuggled blue marker and then broken one of my favorite glasses, all without a dash of remorse, just a smug sing-song-y "Saaaaaaa-wy." This series was the last straw of feeling helpless -- Ben walked in and I burst into tears. He and Eden left to have a talk (which sounded from the kitchen only like a temper tantrum) and Silas, who caught me crying, climbed onto my lap and began telling me knock-knock jokes.
With Eden in her room screaming her way through a time-out (a form of discipline we haven't really used before and one I'm not sure I think is useful) and my sitting on the kitchen floor with my back to the cupboards, it crossed my mind that Eden and I rarely have one-on-one time. She seems so independent that it's easy to be busy with her. Nonsense, I know. So when Ben came back, we both realized what she needed most was attention.
I walked into her dim room and took her on my lap. I looked right into her brown eyes that actually met mine, and told her a thing or two, but gently. Then we read, and read, and read. And the book we ended up reading a few times is The Runaway Bunny. As we read it, I realized that's the whole lesson here -- as parents, that's what we must do: pursue and pursue and pursue. When our kids are awful and perched stubbornly on sharp, snowy ground, we climb. And when they are flying recklessly through the air on a trapeze, we push hesitation aside and walk the tightrope. Our job here is to pursue relentlessly.
I haven't wanted to do that these days. At all. I've wanted to put people in the bathtub (the only toy-less, small space in the house). I've wanted to get in the shower where I can't hear anyone. I've wanted to run away, myself. But if we all runaway, we're all lost. SO, I'm going to try to remember that mother bunny who became the wind, the tree, and won her child back.