Adele and I went to Phoenix last weekend for MommyCon. We had a long day of traveling Saturday, and by Sunday night after the event, we were wiped. She started crying off and on while I was packing up all of the shoppe inventory, but I tried to distract her with the iPad and her Mickey Mouse toys in hopes that I could finish the task at hand. It worked intermittently, but she was just over the day and ready for rest and time with mama. One of the vendors, who was also packing up, offered Adele and Lily leftover balloons from the day. They were thrilled, and they proudly ran around with their balloons floating up from their little wrists. As I walked with her out to the u-haul to load up some of our boxes, I watched her run through the grass with that balloon. She was so happy to be outside.
On our way back into the building, she again ran out into the grass, about 50 feet away from the walkway I was standing on. I watched for a few minutes, but then called out that we needed to head back inside to finish packing up. I explained that she could play more later on, when we were finished, but she didn’t care. She wanted to play outside right then, not a moment later. I asked nicely, I begged, I bribed. I pretended to walk away, towards the building, alone. I hoped that it would make her nervous and she would run after me, but it didn’t. She stayed in the same exact spot, with her feet firmly planted, unwilling to budge. Initially, I didn’t want to walk out into the grass after her, feeling too tired to take the extra steps to pick her up. But after a while of this back and forth, I was becoming irritated. I felt like I needed to prove a point: I will not come to you, YOU will come to ME. I can be so stubborn, and for some reason I was really giving in to that feeling that day. I figured I would just wait her out.
But the longer I waited, the more irritated I became. The more irritated I became, the more frustrated Adele was that I wasn’t coming to pick her up. She started to whine and cry, telling me that “No!”, she would not walk over to where I stood waiting for her. Soon her whimpering cries turned into full blown tears, tears that rolled slowly down her rosy cheeks. As I stood there watching her in my stubbornness, my resolve began to fade. I slowly felt my frustration slip away, and in it’s place I felt compassion. Rather than seeing a stubborn two year old bent on having her own way, I saw a little girl, barely more than a baby, who was overwhelmed and frustrated with the situation she was in. She stood there crying, wanting me to walk over, pick her up, and to carry her inside. She felt out of control and needed her mama, the one person who could ground her in the way that she needed.
As I walked across that lawn towards my sobbing baby, I felt tears in my own eyes. When I had nearly reached her, with her little arms outstretched in anticipation of my stronger ones picking her up, her balloon slipped off of her wrist and floated up into the impossibly bright blue Phoenix sky. Suddenly she cried even harder, screaming for her balloon, reaching to try to grasp what was beyond her reach.
I held her, whispered that mama was there now, and told her it was okay. I told her her balloon had floated away, and we waved goodbye. This didn’t help, but it solidified the loss as we walked back inside. I sat down behind our little booth and held her close, nursing away her tears. She eventually stopped sobbing, then the whimpering subsided, and soon her breathing had returned to normal.
This was my favorite moment of the weekend, this sweet little lesson in putting aside my own stubbornness and connecting with someone else. I am working on seeing beyond my children’s outward reactions to look inside at what is causing them to feel whatever they may be feeling. Most of the time I fail, and I miss it, but this little moment showed me that it is definitely worth it to keep looking.