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The rain patters on the tin roof. I’m wrapped up in a quilt in an Adirondack chair, my second cup of coffee at my feet. The morning air is cool but pleasant.
The child next to me keeps crying about everything. How he doesn’t want to sleep, how he wants to go next door, how he wants my blanket instead of his…and now it’s just an exasperated “HEYYYYY!!!!” every time the app he’s playing doesn’t do what he thinks it should.
He finishes his first puzzle. I take a sip of coffee and choose another for him.
I stood there in the principal’s office on Friday, and she said the words. “I think you know what I’m about to say.” And I did. It was only a matter of time before they would tell me that this arrangement simply wasn’t working – for him or the school. I had sensed the inevitable for the last two weeks. Every drop-off had become more taxing. The phone calls home kept coming. I held my breath through each day with proverbial crossed fingers.
So when the decision finally came… Relief, I suppose. No more holding my breath wondering when it would happen. It’s done.
I lead him to the car, he so blissfully unaware of what had just happened. He fights getting into his seat – climbs over it, and sits on the other side. It is then that the tears press and spill over. “Please, just get in your seat,” my voice no longer strong. I send the text messages and Vox my best friend.
On the way home, I make the decision to drive three hours to visit my parents and my brother’s family in the mountains of South Carolina. I turn on Tree Fu Tom and head upstairs to print off directions and throw things haphazardly into bags and coolers. Miraculously, the only thing I forget is my computer’s power cord.
He falls asleep thirty minutes into the trip and stays that way for the next hour and a half. All I can think is that I’m glad – in this moment – his troubled mind and heart are at rest.
We stop in a downpour at Ingles for a meal from a salad bar. He eats his watermelon then jumps down to hug me. “I just don’t want you to die, Mommy!” A few moments later, we are rushing back to the bathroom where he sits and poops in an adult-sized potty for the first time. We get back on the road and I tell him how proud I am of him. We play “I Spy” and chit chat until arriving at the cabins shortly after dark.
There’s movies, nature walks, tetherball, and King of the Mountain. There’s fists full of marshmallows and kisses on the forehead of his baby cousin. There’s One Fish, Two Fish and Go Dog Go on the top bunk.
There’s fits and yelling and a few times we had to escape outside to the porch swing or our own cabin so he could decompress.
My brother tells me that I’m amazing at calming him down, that I pick my battles wisely, that I’m doing a great job. I hold his baby close to my chest and try to remember what it was like to hold a baby so peaceful. Their child is easy and happy and I try to remember the moments when mine was this calm and happy. This little one soothes my aching mommy heart.
I look into the campfire – my child tucked into bed in the cabin, the sound from the baby monitor a stark contrast to the sounds of the fire popping and the nature surrounding us. I ask for Calm Baby again – almost gaining strength and peace from his still, warm body.
I apologize for being so quiet and tired this weekend and my brother apologizes for having such an easy baby.
“You shouldn’t feel bad,” I tell him. “God gave me mine. I’ve asked Him a million times why it’s had to be so hard and He stays silent.”
My mom cracks a joke about God sending me an email, and the mood lightens. All the sudden I’m telling them about the tired moms who come to my blog every day seeking hope. At least there’s that. Then we are off to talking about analytics and WordPress. Eventually, I leave the fire to go shower in peace.
The next morning, I awake to rain and sit here on the porch with a purple pen scratching words in cursive across the lined pages of a notebook. My mom joins me with Calm Baby taking his morning bottle. He smiles at me – and I put down the pen to reach for him.