When Momma Fails

He was so wonderful this morning. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t easy. Never easy. But wonderful. He wanted his Momma. Kinda crabby and kinda clingy. His first words today were “No going nowhere today”. And that’s where I failed him. Right there. He told me he wasn’t up for it. He wasn’t ready for today. He needed a break.

So when the promise of garage sales dangled and he took the bait I thought I’d won. I thought he’d be fine once we were out and about.

I was wrong.

30 minutes into our first attempt at getting into the car, Grandpa had to come help. I had managed to get Boy IN the car , but not all the way to his car seat. Then I couldn’t get him back out of the car. Grandpa did though.

They sat and watched the brush fire, Boy on Grandpa’s lap, Grandma pacing with the water hose. Then boy decided to run TOWARD the fire. Grandpa promptly brought him back to me. Then grandma cajoled him into heavy labor. Then he got to play with the water hose. Then some jumping on the trampoline while I sprayed him with the hose (oh ecstasy). 

Then he wanted to go to the garage sale.

And I failed him.

Because we tried again. We didn’t make it. And sitting in the car I realized it was lunchtime and we still had to stop at the store.


I don’t know if anyone in that store had ever heard screams quite like his before. They ranged from intentional/high pitched/tantrum to guttural/meltdown. They varied between the two in waves. The only bonus was that at this point he was so beyond salvation that he remained in the shopping cart. He couldn’t even fight it anymore.

Two cashiers checked me out. They scanned the card while I held his fists. One asked if he was my only. I laughed. Right there with screams on one side and horror on the other. Yeah, he’s my only. My one and only.

It took 28 minutes in the car before I could get him in his car seat. I rocked him. I kissed his tears. I apologized for not staying home. I plugged my ears when he screamed. I kissed him some more. I squished him between the seats. I wiped his tears (when he would let me).

I failed.

When he fell asleep, .5 a mile from the store, he was sobbing in his sleep.

When we got home he snuggled on my lap while he ate his hard won, organic, grass fed meatballs.

Then I snuggled him in his bed until he fell asleep. 

My heart hurt.

I had failed him. I failed him when I decided to treat him as if he were typical. I failed him when I didn’t listen to him. These past few years, working so hard every day to give him words. And I didn’t listen to them.

In the quiet of his room I looked at my beautiful little boy, napping under his glow in the dark murals. I painted those. Painted them because he asked. I had listened to him. I looked back at him as he smiled in his sleep, his breath steady and peaceful, and I realized I hadn’t failed him at all. Failure is when you’re done, when you stop trying, when you give up. Through all my wrongs in this life I have never, not once, given up on him. I didn’t fail. I made a mistake. I made a mistake but I was there with him the whole time and we came through it together. 

I didn’t fail; I learned, more clearly today than yesterday, to listen to him.

And now he’s napping. And everyone knows, nap time resets the day.

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