It said Thursday on the calendar, but the calendar lied. Thursday apparently decided that one Monday for the week wasn’t enough, so it dressed up like Monday.
In fact, Thursday did such a good job of pretending it beat Monday at its own game. That week I went to war with Thursday and I became its casualty.
The morning started off with me waking up late, which happens all the time. But today, it made everyone in the family late because my husband had to act as my chauffeur since my clunker of a car decided to break down. I waited all day to hear about my car, hoping it would be an easy fix, praying the voice on the other end of the line would tell me he was bringing me my vehicle. That didn’t happen.
My car remained out of commission. So my husband left work early to pick our son up from daycare. I worked late while I waited for him to pick me up, too. In turn, we got home late, which meant we ate late. For most kids, this wouldn’t be a problem. But for mine, it was.
Late dinners are hard for my boy. When he’s sleepy, he doesn’t like to eat. So, to make things easier, I made one of his favorites: popcorn chicken. I threw some vegetables on the plate with the chicken as a last stitch effort to make it nutritionally sound. I sat his plate on the Mickey Mouse table in our living room with his big boy cup next to it, and called for him to come eat. Silence. I called again. No sound of footsteps.
Watch: Mamamia staff discuss whether it’s ever okay to smack your child. (Post continues after video.)
I went to his play room and coaxed him out. We went into the living room and I made him sit down. I walked away, breathing a sigh of relief.
That was easier than I thought.
My relief was shattered by a streak of a two year old running past me, back to his play room. I took a deep breath and followed after him. I picked him up, carried him to his seat, and told him to eat. He laughed, jumped up, and ran to his room again. I followed once again and brought him back to his seat, asking him to please sit down and eat for Mummy.
The frustrations of the day boiled inside me, to the point an eruption seemed eminent. The Thursday that was really a Monday had worn all the patience I was capable of mustering beyond thin and now my son was trying to squeeze out every last drop of it. I was angry. I was tired. And I just wanted him to eat.
I crouched down to be at eye level with him. I wanted him to know I meant business. I meant to tell him to stay in his seat. I meant to tell him if he got up again, he was going in time out. I meant to tell him he had to eat. But that’s not what I did.
Instead, I looked at him, really looked at him. And for the first time since we’d been home, I saw him. His lips curled in a mischievous smile, the silliness and innocence of childhood exuded from his toothy grin. Suddenly, the lava of emotions inside me cooled. I felt the inner me throw up her hands in defeat. His smile was contagious.
I gave him the you-better-run-cause-Mama’s-coming-after-you look. He recognised it immediately and did just that. He ran, not to his playroom for me to follow him and bring him back in his seat, but away from me and the tickle monster to the opposite end of the living room. Finally, he retreated under his table. He giggled, opened his mouth, and screamed. His shrill voice seemed to echo within the walls of my heart, begging me to retaliate. And so I did what any Mum who had a Monday-Thursday like I had had would do.
I screamed. (Post continues after gallery.)
I screamed at my son, and it freed me.
Everything that had been weighing me down dissipated as I stared at him under that Mickey Mouse table. All my disappointments and frustrations melted away as our voices rang out. The scream I had held in all day finally let loose and so did I.
It didn’t matter that the car was still broken. It didn’t matter that my son’s dinner was getting cold. We were all that mattered, me and him, and the memories we were making. Truth be told, he won’t remember the war Thursday waged against me that day. He won’t remember his popcorn chicken and veggies. He won’t remember our screaming match. But I will.
Because every mother needs a war cry, and that night, my son gave me mine.
Have you ever done something as a parent that had an unexpected effect on you?