Tonight was one of those nights that reminded me what sweet little souls I am raising.
After dinner, Aubrey asked me (again) if she could have her Blankey back. (You can read about the recent Blankey drama here.) Telling her no was heartbreaking, and she was so angry at me. Aubrey has yet to learn how to deal with her anger without lashing out, and with her vocabulary and gift of sass, her being angry means I get a tongue-lashing of words meant to hurt my heart. I tried to explain to her that as a mom, I didn't delight in keeping Blankey away, that it was a hard decision for me, too. "Really, Mom? You don't know what it's like to have something special taken away. Not like you've EVER lost a stuffy! You have no idea how this feels!" (Yup--only 8 and already pulls this level of sass. I'm DOOMED.)
So, I told her about my own Raggedy Ann doll, a doll I treasured when I was a child, and how one day, after my dad had been telling me for days to clean my room, he swept up all the toys littering my floor into a big trash bag and carried them out to our burn barrel (I grew up in the sticks) and lit them all on fire. My Raggedy Ann doll was in the mess of toys in that barrel, and I was simply devastated. "So, I do understand how difficult this is for you. And that makes it even harder for me to take Blankey away, but sweetie, we have to do this right now. I'm so sorry."
During the story, I watched my daughter's face go from contempt and anger, to shock, to disbelief, and finally, back to anger again. "MOM! HOW COULD YOU TELL ME THAT STORY!!!" And off she stomped, up the stairs, to her room, furious at me for telling her an upsetting story about a stuffed animal.
When I reached her room to tuck her into bed, she broke down crying, her anger spent. She clung to me, sobbing, sad for her beloved Blankey, sad for my own lost Raggedy Ann. Suddenly, she broke away and ran to her toy box, and rummaging inside, she grabbed a teddy bear and handed it to me. "I want you to keep it. To take the place of your Raggedy Ann doll. So you won't be sad anymore."
Be still my heart.
No matter how many ways I tried to explain to her that I was OK, that I'd long gotten over my lost lovey, she wouldn't take back the bear. Then I told her the story of how she'd come to own that bear (it was a gift from her Gramps at Disney World on her first trip to the park, when she was just a baby). I saw her face change, and I asked her, "Would you like it back?" She ran back to the toy box, rummaged around to pull out her stuffed horse, Midnight, and offered me a trade. Then she made me promise that I would sleep with Midnight tonight. Looks like I'll have a little extra company in the bed.
After these dramatic events, I was in Aiden's room, tucking him into bed. He had heard the entire exchange, and we chatted about how sad she was about the Blanket. Suddenly he jumped up, and dragging a chair into his closet, he reached up onto the top shelf and pulled out a plastic linen bag from the corner of the closet. Inside, Aiden's own baby blankets were neatly folded and tucked away. A few months ago, Aiden decided it was time to pack away those sweet baby blankets that he'd treasured as a toddler, and we decided on a linen bag in his closet (put away, but still close--just in case). He plopped the bag on the floor, unzipped a corner, and laid out the three blankets. Running his hand over each one, he settled on one, grabbed it, and ran into his sister's room and tucked it over her, offering his own blanket--the softest of the three--for her to snuggle.
And darn it, if my heart didn't break again.
In the span of this one evening, there have been pre-teen meltdowns, stomped feet, angry words, slammed doors and endless complaints. Brad and I have doled out lectures, handed down a grounding, and threatened more consequences. We've laughed, tickled, hugged and kissed. I've wiped away tears--a tiny girl's and my own. And in the course of the day, these kids have exasperated me, driven me to drink, and filled my heart in a way that nothing or no one else has ever been able to. This motherhood gig has to be the hardest, most intensely-frustrating-yet-amazing job I have ever had. And I am so incredibly grateful for it.