It was 42 degrees yesterday when I was driving home from the mall with Toddler Child, recovering from a fit, in the back seat. I thought it looked deceptively warmer than what my car thermometer registered. The bright sun, clear skies and calm air made it appear at least 20 degrees warmer. The snow has mostly melted in our small town and surrounding areas, but the mountains remain snow-capped. I find the transition from winter to spring, pretty.
The two older boys were spending the afternoon at the home of friends. Friends that are brothers the same ages as Oldest Boy and Middle Boy, attend the same school, and have a new puppy. They were overflowing with happy and content.
I took Toddler Child to the mall, thinking it would be nice to get out of the house, return a couple of things, and leisurely stroll with my three and a half-year-old son. The final child in our tribe. I assumed with another month of natural maturation under his belt, he might behave and not throw a fit. I was wrong. Not even close. It was miserable. He actually screamed shut-up a few times. [Please no judging. We do not say shut-up in our house. He saw it on a Muppet video. Toddlers can behave like belligerent drunks sometimes, and it doesn't mean he's spoiled, or I'm a bad person. Shit happens.]
I wrested him into the car while a few people watched and wondered if I was hurting him. I wasn't, but the ordeal was painful for both of us. I managed to get him buckled in his car seat while trying to look calm and composed as I closed his door, resisting the urge to slam it. I climbed in the front seat. Once in, I sat there panting with frustration and feelings of self-pity because my experience mothering infants and toddlers has not been normal. [I realize there is no normal and being home with small children is difficult - even for the mothers who have kids who nap. I wouldn't know what that's like, but I can imagine, and I'm sure it's still difficult. No sarcasm here. Sarcasm is cheap and unattractive.]
I pleaded with him, "Honey, you have to stop throwing those fits. What happened? It's not appropriate. We can't go back to Build-A-Bear - not today. When you can be calm we'll try again another day." He screamed and kicked and didn't hear a word I said. I felt like I had to say something, even if it was to myself.
Fifteen minutes into the 30-minute drive home, Toddler Child found his calm. His head resting on the car seat, his eyes pink and swollen looking out the side window, at nothing, and he was touching his ear. [He's an ear fondler.] He was exhausted and so was I. We were empty. I asked him if his fit was over and he said yes, Mom. I told him I loved him even when I was angry - there was nothing he could do to make me stop loving him, but I didn't like his behavior. He just looked out the window, touching his ear.
We continued home in silence.
The day was so beautiful. The quiet in the car was nice.
We were only five minutes from our house when I noticed a group of men, maybe five or six of them, sitting in the grass taking what appeared to be a lunch break. They were construction workers. A few were large men, a few were small, almost wiry. They were dressed in jeans or coveralls, flannel shirts, sweatshirts and various shades of brown lace-up boots. They all looked happy. Happy to be employed, happy to have lunch on the grass on a beautiful day, happy to be sharing life anecdotes and laughs with one another. Just happy.
One man, a larger person, was laying on his stomach. He wore faded blue coveralls over a gray hooded sweatshirt. His boots were light tan and he had the toe of one boot balancing on the heel of the other - his feet stacked like a tower behind him. His arms were folded under his chest and his chin was resting on his arms. He looked to be in his late 40s or early 50s and I bet when he goes to the barbershop, he simply says, "High and tight!" with a grin.
These men... so full... filled me.
Toddler Child and I sat on the couch together when we got home. He watched television and touched my ear while I read the paper and rifled through a stack of magazines and catalogs. He may not have been satiated, but he was on his way.