The other night, as I was trying to get Brogan to bed, he kept calling me for various requests. As I tromped back up the stairs and into his room, aggravation all over my face, he said to me, “Mommy, when something goes wrong, I call you.” He gave me a hug and all of my frustration went away. I feel like I wrestle with the balance of wanting my boys to be independent, but also liking the fact that they need me. As moms, we feed hungry bellies, bandage skinned knees, wipe runny noses, grab what’s out of their reach and try to fulfill every other random request. We do so whether or not we are shown appreciation or thanks. But it’s nice every once in a while, especially when it comes surprisingly from my three-year-old, to be affirmed that they do in fact realize that moms get stuff done; we’re the fixers and the problem solvers.
So that was the sweet side of the equation. Now let’s talk about the manipulation.
Knowing that moms come to the rescue, and sensing our weak spots, kids will exploit the you-know-what out of you. My soft spot is hunger. I never starved growing up, but for some reason the thought of my children being hungry is something that does not sit well with my soul. This drives my husband crazy. He can see that sometimes (notice I just can’t give him all the time) Brogan takes advantage of this fact and tries to prolong naps and bedtime by telling me he’s hungry. Here’s the thing, statistically speaking, I know there are times when he’s pulling one over on me and he’s not really hungry. I do truly believe, however, that there are other times when he is, in fact, hungry. The problem I have is that my overwhelming fear of starving my kids clouds my vision and I can’t tell when it’s real and when he’s faking it. So what happen? 98% of the time I give that little slickster some food. I really wish it ended with the food. In the 20 minutes that I’ve been typing this post, in addition to the “I’m hungry” episode, I’ve been called on to turn off his fan because it was shaking. “Mommy, come quick, it’s an emergency! My fan won’t stop shaking!” And while I was up there, “Please turn off the bathroom light.” Oh, and, I need some medicine because my legs are hurting (eczema). And once I returned back downstairs to continue my writing, he declared that he wanted more milk. On the simple fact that I don’t feel like cleaning up a wet bed in the morning, I said no. But dammit, I said yes to the rest. Oh, and I forgot to mention that while I was cuddling with him in bed, he asked me to read him a story. I explained that I had just (downstairs) read him three stories, and that was enough for the night. He then reminded me that Daniel Tiger says, “It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do.” And then that, “so mommy, you said it’s time to stop and so I get one more thing, and that means one more story.” You know that feeling, when your three-year-old beats you at your own game (if you only knew how many times I’ve used Daniel Tiger to get him to do things), yeah that sucks. So another book it was.
And I sit here knowing that I was worked over multiple times tonight. And I wonder how and if I will react differently tomorrow when I’m faced with this recurring dilemma. Honestly, I’m torn. Logically I know that no should mean no and lines need to be drawn, but emotionally, being met with a “mommy, I love you” each time I oblige makes it really hard to refuse. My husband, by the way, is going to love this post. He rarely gets me to admit that I’m a softy (I really try to hide it). Well honey, you’re welcome, I’m a softy. But the kids still aren’t going to bed hungry 🙂