This is my five-year old son, Finn. He is breaking my heart right now because I know I’m not doing right by him.
I’m not "getting" him.
He needs more something right now and I don’t know what – or who – it is. More boundaries? More time-outs? More time-ins? Or simply more time?
He is crotchety and tearful; one moment he is testing, pushing me with his words teetering on the boundaries of rudeness and knowing it – the next he is in a puddle of tears in my arms because a friend bumped into him unknowingly at a rough and tumble birthday party, Finn normally being the most tumble-y of all.
“He is my bestest friend and I can’t believe he hurt me!” he yells out to me, outraged tears rolling down his cheeks faster than his small hands can wipe them away.
It doesn’t matter that the child in question is not his best friend or that it was not a planned slight. Just like it doesn’t matter that the banana I cut up for his waffle this morning looked to me, perfectly fine. It doesn’t matter that when the Broncos won the wildcard game, I picked him up out of sheer joy and spun him around the room.
“Mom! You didn’t ask me first!” he protested loudly while I twirled, wriggling out of my arms and onto the floor, scowling at me.
This is my love, my sweet boy and at this moment, he and I are both reeling on a new growth curve. Something is happening, a shift, a phase that will most certainly pass and we will soon get back to comfortable ground where we both know he is fine. We will go back to knowing that a game of UNO will make things right again, that a bath will calm him, that making homemade pizza together will be just the thing to get our groove back. We will find our way to smoothness again. We will figure our what exact adjustments need to be made to help continue his journey into becoming the lovely, kind young man he is - with luck - destined to become.
But right now, today, it is a gravelly road. These days are like the first ones, the ones when you don’t know what your new baby needs and you try everything – binky, blanket, rocking, walking – just to find the exact right combination, the stumbled upon secret that will comfort him, that will mother him just the way he needs to be mothered so that he can comfort himself, so he can feel safe enough to become OK. To one day become his best him.
I imagine this road of every now and then discomfort, of new, surprising winding parental off-roading, doesn’t end at five. Or fifteen. It's the curvy road of parenthood where just when you think you know your direction, your handling, your speed - your GPS is turned upside down and sidewise and all you have is your love and devotion to get you both through.