Sometimes motherhood sneaks up on me. I’m just bebopping along, doing my mom thing, when I’m struck sideways by something unexpected.
I’m not much of a crier. When my fellow chicas are bawling over a particularly emotional scene in a chick flick, my eyes might fill with tears, even though I really am enjoying the movie. I can even hold strong through This is Us. I know, I know!
A few books have made me sob (looking at you, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes), and I’m a HUGE sucker for YouTube videos showing military members surprising their families with surprise returns home. I mean, I’m not heartless!
But still. I tend to lean toward logic instead of dramatic displays of emotion. I think. You can confirm this evaluation with my husband.
Today, though, something happened on the playground that nearly had me in tears.
So, when I take the kids to a playground, I’m typically reminded of how different they are. Same gene pool, same household, very different personalities. Both personalities are precious and just perfect for their little selves, but strangely unique from each other.
A lot of this falls into the introvert/extrovert classifications, which I discussed here, and am too lazy to recap.
Olivia, my 18-month-old, blue-eyed pistol, always makes a friend. And that friend is usually an older kid who follows Olivia around like she’s the pied piper. It’s amazing to watch. Today, she had three older kids (somewhere between 8 and 5) holding her hands, pushing her in a swing, playing peekaboo, and enduring reps on the see-saw. She had a ball.
George, my brilliant, 3-year-old goober, rarely makes a friend. He tends to be the kid piling up mulch by the fence or climbing the rock wall over and over by himself. He loves to swing and talk about the periodic table of elements as my biceps burn. Today, he sat to the side, calling his little sister’s name as she tottled around with her posse.
The little gang that took a liking to Olivia was comprised of two older girls and a 5-year-old boy (I know this because he volunteered this info, not because I’m a creepy playground mom). The boy eventually took notice of George and tried to play. Well, George is 3, so his social skills are still in their infancy. I didn’t want to be a weird helicopter mom, but I sauntered over to broker an introduction, as George was being rather shy and distant.
“Hi! What’s your name? This is George,” I asked in a friendly (but not overly so) mom voice.
“I’m Ralph,” replied the kid whose name was not actually “Ralph”. “I have a toy dragon.”
“Yes, I can see that. George, would you like to play with Ralph and his dragon?”
“Does it glow in the dark?” George asked Ralph, much to my delight.
…little boy conversation continued about the little, plush dragon-thing the boy was holding. I went back to my book.
About five minutes later, Olivia was holding court over the two older girls, as they were taking turns pushing her in a baby swing and simultaneously holding her sippy cup to bestow upon her whim. Ralph rejoined them saying, “I don’t want to play with that boy anymore.” He glanced over at me, knowing he wasn’t saying something very nice, but didn’t know how to get his point across politely, as he was 5.
I looked around for George. He was watching the other kids through the window of a little house, all alone.
My heart just shattered for him.
And, yes, I realize that sounds a bit dramatic, but that’s how it felt at the moment. Being left out hurts, no matter the age.
I have no idea what happened. Little kids are fickle, and maybe Ralph decided he didn’t like George’s tiger shirt. No clue. I really don’t hold it against him as, again, he’s 5.
But I do know that social stuff is hard when you’re a kid. At 18 months, Olivia already seems to have a natural tendency toward others. She babbles to strangers and isn’t afraid to lean into someone’s arms. She’s more interested in the action than sitting on the sidelines to watch.
George, though, he already has more of a struggle. He tends to be more reserved and has trouble easing into new situations. He likes to wallflower it or even fly solo, enjoying reading to himself, spelling out words, and doing puzzles.
Again, he’s 3. I realize I’m being very dramatic and probably reading too much into everything.
It just feels like, where my kids are concerned, my heart is right on the line with them. They’re so little that they don’t even know when they’re mistreated on the playground by a stranger kid. But they’ll know it so soon, and it’ll happen again and again and again.
It really makes me look forward to heaven, honestly.
I tell George all the time that he is my favorite big boy (I have to be specific since my husband is also a candidate for “favorite boy”). I never expected to be this enthralled, enamored, and driven crazy by a tiny human. I mean, I get to call this child mine, and I praise God he entrusted George to me as his mama. What an enormous blessing and responsibility. I can’t wait to see the boy and man he becomes.
And I know Olivia will have her challenges too. She is a girl, after all. After high school, I think it becomes clear that being the popular kid isn’t always a boon to your future success, and sometimes it’s a detriment. Who knows if she’ll even be great at the social thing? I hope they’re both decent socially, but I’m really trying my hardest to raise brilliant, Jesus-loving nerds here.
I guess I just never really expected to feel this much love. I fell in love with my husband and choose to love him every day, but, wow, it’s such a different sensation. I’m resisting the urge to turn this into an “Everyone go hug your mom right now!” post, but, seriously, the things these women go (went) through!
OK, sob fest complete. At least for the moment. Thanks for watching.
Enjoy your Mother’s Day weekend. And, yes, go hug your mom.