Last week, I failed my kids in the most horrible way possible.
It was one of those bold yet bad moves, really. My older son was sitting by himself in the back row of our car and I was in the middle row with our younger son. At night. That time when at least one of them (read: the younger one) should be sleeping.
You can already see where this is going. I didn't. This story has the benefit of hindsight.
The Internet connection failed us. YouTube (see the next mistake right there?) wouldn't load properly. I was nursing our younger son. The older one started screaming for me to fix the iPad. I asked him calmly to wait. At first. Then he started screaming louder and louder until he began to cry.
I kept asking him to wait. I had hoped to put the younger one to sleep so I could give him my full attention.
See that right there? It was one mistake after another. Again, hindsight.
He began crying for Mama. I asked him to wait just a little longer but my patience was wearing thin because the child in my arms still hadn't fallen asleep. I began to tell him off for screaming. In my dangerously calm tone--the one he knew means trouble.
Finally I was able to put the younger one down. (Allow me to diverge from the conversation a moment to yes, confirm that the child was out of his seat. In fact, neither child was strapped in at this point. If our laws were more stringent about this they and I probably would have been better trained with the whole car seat matter. But that is for another time.) I turn and fix the YouTube connection, finally.
But he kept crying. And forcing coughs to get more attention. But mostly crying. For me to hold him. He'd gotten upset and he needed me to hold him.
And I told him to wait. Again. Over and over. Wait, wait, wait.
Toddlers aren't good at that, usually, especially not mine. Not this little boy who would freak out if his toy train derails or falls apart when his bike gets stuck on something. (We are working on this.)
So yes, he fell apart. And when he did, his younger brother did, too. Oh how they cried, screamed, and wailed for most of the ride home! It was excruciating and broke my heart. The older one begging me to put down the younger one so he could cuddle with me for comfort. The younger one wailing because he couldn't fall asleep in his car seat and needed me to hold and nurse him to sleep.
Surely the Lord must have been with me at that moment, holding me together that I would not fall apart along with my two sons. Surely he must have been there when I remembered: I am your mother. I can do this. I can keep you both calm and comforted.
So I did. I hugged both of them tightly and whispered, "Shhh...Mama's here...shhh..."
Over and over and over.
And just like that, the struggling, the tears, the screams...they died down. Both boys closed their eyes and leaned against me. Calmed and comforted.
I failed them in the most horrible way. I forgot my power as a mother. I forgot that if I panicked with them, they will be lost.
I keep feeling guilt over that and thinking I traumatised them for life. But both boys, they continue to cling to me, letting me know that even when I am at my weakest, they love me and find strength in me.
Mother, Mommy, Mama.
This is to remind myself that I am theirs and I will always have the power to soothe my sons. I just have to remember and believe.