My hand rests on the gingerbread man. This blanket, that I’ve had since I was a child, now rests on the back of my son. My hand rises with his breath…a gentle rise and fall.
This blanket was my favorite because of its weight. It went with me to camps and college. When I was a teen, I tucked both arms underneath it, my hands clasping a little New Testament – fearing the demons that I believed were inhabiting my home.
I prayed a lot under that blanket.
Now, here I am. Knees knelt on the hardwood floor. Hands resting on his back. This child who seems to be fighting proverbial demons all the time.
I bow my head on top of the hand upon his back. It’s a prayerful position, but I can’t seem to compose my thoughts into a prayer. That is the story of my life these days. But I know God is here in this moment. My silence an offering, a request to the All Powerful One.
When I was away camping this past weekend, I shared a room with my son. That being the case, our night-time routine of rock-for-ten-minutes-then-leave-the-room-listen-to-him-cry-put-him-back-in-bed-five-million-times-over-the-course-of-an-hour-and-a-half was impossible to carry out. So I resorted back to the tactics of infancy: patting and rubbing the back until the child falls asleep.
Each time his breathing slowed rapidly, and he was asleep within twenty minutes.
It was strange, this success.
How can something feel like two steps forward yet twenty steps back all at the same time?
He’s four years old. I shouldn’t have to do this.
Pushing him to act his age and be independent hasn’t worked. Yet treating him like an infant seems counter-intuitive.
His body and intellect so much four (and beyond). His emotions and impulses still like that of a toddler. Having to mother both sides of him using only my personal experience and intuition…it’s like being pulled in both directions at the same time. I can’t imagine what it feels like for him.
At the end of the day – especially at the end of the day – what really matters is what works. What meets the need in the moment. Even if it goes against what you think should be the right solution.
I long for the day when he will learn to self-soothe. But expecting that of him has just left us all frustrated and exhausted. So, maybe for now, I’ll choose the twenty steps back if it means I can take two steps forward.