It's been a long time since Madeleine opened her mouth and broke the night in two. But last night she did it, with all the power a six-year-old possesses, which is surprising in its scope. Because in some ways, they have all the power. Their little minds unable to process an overwhelming emotion, a dawning frustration, they freak -- and everything falls to pieces.
You can ignore these episodes all you want, but damage is being done anyway. It's like closing your eyes while the hurricane destroys your house. You might not get worked up about it, but it's still happening. Everything is being torn down.
Last night I got torn down and even as I stood in the middle of the storm, desperately pulling the last vestiges of my patience together, trying to tie them into something workable, something that could withstand the onslaught, I lost them. Away it went, any control I had in the situation, and so I walked away from my screaming daughter, who at this point was just begging for hugs, screaming "Come hug me and then I'll calm down," I walked away. And she screamed harder.
It's hard to see in the fury of the moment when you should drop your guard, when it's okay to drop it all and snuggle. Some part of me says it's always okay to drop everything and snuggle. Another part of me, the larger, louder part, said that if she's coherent enough to bargain like that she knows what she's doing, and she should calm herself down. That same part of me was also more than a little upset at this point. It was like she was asking me to snuggle a recalcitrant honey badger that had already torn off half my leg. I just couldn't do it.
But that never feels okay, walking away from your clearly bereft child who is begging for a cuddle. Right and wrong. That's what the situation was. I can't see clearly even now if walking away was okay or not, if it was the right thing or not. Maybe it's just that it was the only thing I could have done just then. I don't know.
My husband said he didn't know if what I did was wrong or not. My husband said he couldn't say that. He could say that he isn't like me, unable to give affection when I feel so thoroughly wronged in a situation. What I hear is: he is capable of unconditional love and I am not. If he had been here, he would have done things differently.
I took this as well as you can imagine. I hung up the phone and sobbed like I'd just lost everything, which is ridiculous and not all at once. That's what's hard to deal with, isn't it? All those stupid shades of gray. It's hard to rest easy in a shade of gray, hard to make a decision when you're stuck there.
It was what it was and today is a new day and tonight will be a new night, and we both get another chance to do it better. I want to. I want to fix things. I also want to hide under the covers, head under a pillow, and never come out again. And there you go, another shade of gray. Bleh.