While I was putting Lucy to bed a few nights ago, I asked her to pick out a story. I was already in a grumpy mood, having spent the day in a funk. Tired and wanted a pretty quick story. She didn't want the latest installment from the Seven Year Old Wonder Book, as we had read that for the last several nights. She brought her first choice, too long and then a second, also too long. I got out of her bed and said, "I know! Hold on a minute." I went to the living room to get the Autumn Wynstones. We haven't had most of its stories yet this year. I thought she would be excited and felt like I was doing a little more in the story department then I had planned when I sat on her bed. Instead, when she saw the book she said whined, "Oh, not that one. I'm sick of that one."
Really, I had had it. No story! I sent Jack to my room to read, as he normally does after I've read a story, and marched right back out of the room to return the book to the living room. I was mad! Didn't she understand how tired I was? I was trying to do something nice for her. I'm SICK of every initial comment being negative and including false assumptions. Waa, waa, waa. She wasn't going to win over me THIS time. I went back into her room, as the hysterical crying had already begun. I needed yet to turn off the lights and pull up her covers. In the dark I sat next to her on the bed. I consciously caught myself feeling so separate from her, so intent on winning? (winning what?), feeling more wronged. I could feel a wall between us.
What happens in these moments that sometimes allows us to step out of our own crap and baggage and move closer to unity and love? Because, God knows, I am often all too happy to wallow in my own baggage. Was it that conscious moment of feeling our separateness and knowing that wasn't my goal? What ever causes it, when it happens I can feel my brain shift out of the crazy, reactionary section and back into the rational zone.
I took her little hand in mine and said, "I feel mad because I thought you would be excited about the book and it hurt my feelings because you complained." She stopped crying and looked at me. I went on "You feel sad because you said something you hadn't thought about and all of a sudden your mama was mad and there was no story." She nodded. I said, "I'm mad so I feel like I want to win by not reading you a story, and you feel sad and want to win by making me read a story." A tearful "yes" came after that. Then I told her that we don't have to win over each other, and that if just one of us wins, the other one loses. We are on the same side and can win together.
We put our hearts together and hugged. I felt the wall disappear.
I told her a story that night, instead of reading her one. A little win for both of us? Just a simple retelling of "The Gingerbread Man". But her eyes were lively and engaged, and her cheeks rosy by the time I finished. She hugged my arm and told me, "I love that story. You are mine, Mama."