Hidden Pond

The other week a play date canceled at the last minute and Madeline slept way late (why can’t our children sleep in together…and on the weekend?).  I packed it in during the morning for Wes so he’d nap and after lunch we headed to a nature center.  This nature center has everything a playground, a pond, and a building with animals.

It was a really nice time initially. We played on the playground, put together the puzzles in the nature center, saw the baby turtles there too, and ventured around the pond.

We’d intended one last play on the playground before heading home, but I mentioned this was after lunch.  So Wes was tired.  Sometimes I wonder if I should give more allowance to defiance that happens when he’s tired and I’m the reason.  He really should have been at home but I was pushing for a) a nap (not just quiet time) and b) to start that nap at the same time as Madeline’s.  But then there’s that look.  You’ve given me instruction, Momma, and I heard you but I’m going to half smile at you as I stick my toe over the line as little as possible to make sure you’re serious.

I could stand to be more consistent, but this time I was serious.  Because I hate that half smile.  So we went home.  Crying child all the way to car and all.

When it comes to parenthood, why doesn’t winning always feel good? I set the boundary, it was crossed, I reinforced the rule. That’s a win! I did the hard thing. I was unwavering. Why doesn’t it feel better? Why does it feel like I still lost a little? Especially when there’s a child crying all the way to the car. Why doesn’t it feel like I made progress toward the end goal? What is the end goal here exactly?  Am I meeting it?  I really have to wait 20, 30 years to find out?

In the short term I didn’t even accomplish the goal of a nap. So long term, I’m really holding out hope for you. That the combination of these difficult moments really will matter.