Wednesday, September 05, 2007

my heart

Last bed I went to bed scared... scared that Swee'pea would spend his first morning at daycare screaming, scared that we'd made the wrong decision, scared that we're on the verge of another wrong decision to up sticks to the Big City, scared that living in that big city, riding its subway, working in its skyscrapers with bullet-fast or rickety-slow elevators, would make me scared like I was years ago.

My anxiety didn't last long though, and I slept well. Swee'pea began playing with the daycare centre's trucks immediately upon arrival, and barely managed to pull himself away to give me a hug and kiss goodbye. He returned to the toys happily, singing, "Bye bye bye bye." I left feeling a bit superfluous.

At work, my morning was hectic and stressful trying to get everything that needed doing before noon. I felt like I'd been overprotective starting Swee'pea at the centre with a half-day; he probably didn't need it. I extricated myself from work, not altogether successfully, and raced to the centre. When I got to Swee'pea's room it was dark and quiet with little children spread all over on their little cots. Except for one who was in the arms of a caregiver I hadn't met before. Swee'pea started weeping as soon as he laid eyes on me, and we ran to each other. I held him as tightly as I ever have, feeling slightly vindicated that I was right about the half-day, but mostly awful for putting him through what was obviously an emotional and stressful experience for him. Even after he stopped weeping, his breath still came in those sob-style mouthfuls, like he couldn't quite catch his breath for sadness and relief.

I held him tightly, feeling like my heart would burst into tears at any moment, unable to contain my love. I held him for longer than was strictly necessary to get him to sleep for his nap, and contemplated his fluttering eyes, moving side to side as they followed his dreams, and I hoped his dreams were of happy things and not parental abandonment. I am sadly aware that even now at this young age, I cannot know everything or even anything of his internal life, except for what he is able and willing to share. And I suspect his internal life is more complicated than I'd suspected.

After his nap I fed him some lunch (he'd refused to even take a bite at the centre), then took him to the playground and a baby ice cream. I just gave him an ice cream yesterday, but I figured he'd had a hard day, and ice cream is good. I wonder if perhaps I'm setting him up for a lifetime of emotional and over-eating, but then I think that perhaps this is an important facet of resilience: recognizing when you've had a hard day and giving yourself permission to take it easy and eat lots of ice cream.

23 comments:

Bon said...

i think Swee'pea is lucky to have a mama with such a heart, who knows when to come get him, and who knows when a little ice cream is an important part of a rough day.

and the comment about knowing little or nothing about his internal life...? wham. i know. it's just struck me, and i'm mildly traumatized.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm with bon--that comment really hit me--hard. I had to re-read it over again, it was so moving and right-on.

Swee'pea IS lucky--oh so lucky.

bubandpie said...

Pie is stressed too this week. She's fine at day-care - no crying or clinging - but when she gets home she's a mess: fussy, clingy, regressing a little (asking for a soother!). It's a rough transition, even when it's a smooth transition.

As for the ice cream - well, you know my feelings about that. :)

b*babbler said...

What a scary transition, for all concerned. I'm so glad we've decided to wait another year, around here.

Your comment about their internal life? I've often wondered what is going on in my Peanut's head. There's so much going on behind her eyes, and I can only guess and wonder at the half of it.

cinnamon gurl said...

B&P, I was TOTALLY thinking of you when I wrote about the ice cream. Totally.

slouching mom said...

You may not know all there is to know about his internal life, but you (and his dad) know more than anyone else.

And that is something.

You certainly knew what he needed this afternoon!

Mimi said...

Awwww. I'm sorry it's been hard for you two. I know what it's like to have the baby burst into tears when they see you ... and to lie awake at night worrying.

Here's hoping it eases into something more comfortable soo.

The ice cream idea is a good one: you gotta call those hard days like you see 'em.

kgirl said...

My heart is aching for you. Swee'pea seems nothing but smiles, so his crying would certainly do you in.

It's tough mama, it really is, but I think you know more than you think. You know that he needed an extra long cuddle, and ice cream. Two very important things to know.

Hope it gets easier.

Christine said...

oh swee'pea! that beautiful boy has a mysterious heart, and like all kids he will not ever reveal the entirety of its contents to his parents. and that makes a fissure in the heart.

and ice cream is good. it is practically a prescription for happiness.

Kyla said...

You did well, Sin. I think we all wish someone would take us out for an ice cream treat after a hard day.

The portion about his internal life was really something, it is so true. We have no idea really, just what we can infer and what they actually share. Strange to think about.

Jennifer said...

How I ache to know more about my kids' internal lives, too... You captured that feeling so beautifully.

You are a good mama. I hope each day is a little easier, until the day arrives to celebrate with ice cream

Jennifer said...

(p.s. Not that soothing a bad day with ice cream isn't good, as well. We're all about the ice cream, here!)

Beck said...

Two days of ice cream isn't a bad thing at all. You're a good mama for comforting your little one.
It IS sad and scary to think about their private inner lives and how unreachable they can be when they're unhappy, but really you KNOW him.

jen said...

oh Sin. i've done the same thing. seeing M flailing in the arms of a provider who doesn't know exactly what she needs to feel better has put me over the edge.

NotSoSage said...

This was so lovely and thoughtful. Speaking of mindful parenting, Sin, you've got it down.

I want to echo others' comments about how lucky Swee'pea is to have you and SD.

Mad Hatter said...

For us it's salty carbs and tv. You do what you do, you know?

Miss M kept repeating a mantra on the way home yesterday: "put your tears away, put your tears away..." It was almost too much to bear. And, like Swee'pea, she cried the second she saw me when I came to collect her. Oh, and as B&P notes, there is the regression. A potty? What's that? Never heard of that!

So now what I want to know is when do we mom's get our ice cream? I'll take mine in the form of single malt scotch.

ali said...

ice cream is good. always good. ;)

metro mama said...

Ice cream helps. I hope things get easier soon.

DaniGirl said...

Sigh. It's as hard to read about as it was to live through. But, it does get better. Hugs to both of you, and hope for better days ahead.

nomotherearth said...

It's rough on everyone. I know. I too wish we could see inside their heads - know what's going on beyond the limited communication we get.

You're doing a great job.

Denguy said...

... recognizing when you've had a hard day and giving yourself permission to take it easy and eat lots of ice cream.

Amen to that, sister.

Nancy said...

My kids both switched schools this week -- Rosie started at a new day care center in addition to Mimi starting kindergarten -- and it's been emotionally draining for all of us. We did a half-day with Rosie at first and I think it was just right.

I hope the rest of your week went a little more smoothly, and that every week thereafter will be a piece of cake.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My son started kindergarten last week and was an emotional wreck, too. He alternated being clingy and aggressive. This week he's much, much better. We spent a lot of time eating ice cream & going to parks, figuratively speaking -- I gave him lots of time to do whatever the heck he wanted. It seemed to help.

Hang in there! You're a good mama. You & your son will figure this out together.