It had been a long weekend.
My husband had been out of town for business since Thursday and wouldn’t be home until late Monday night so I was having the artificial single-mom experience with my son who was about 3-years-old at the time. My son was and still is a calm child who rarely got in trouble on a daily basis. No, my little boy saved his trouble-making for enormous doses rather than spacing it out in reasonable amounts.
This long weekend happened to be long before I knew had a depression or anxiety. Years before I knew I had PTSD or bipolar. I am a much better mother now that I know these things. Hell, I was a rad mother then, too, I just had days when I couldn’t keep all my marbles in order. Sometimes they fell out of my brain right after my eyeballs popped out. I was a working mom who taught a full schedule with no prep period. So I was basically going banana crackers until the weekends.
My son and I had a fun weekend together while my husband was out of town. We watched Thomas the Tank Engine at least eleventy billion times and read 30-zillion books. I let him eat processed crappy wheels and cheese until it came out of his nose. Good times until Sunday. Sunday it became Naughtiness On Parade. All day long with the naughty. All day long with me closing my eyes and the deep sighing. I do not imbibe but I was considering drinking every bottle of cooking wine I had in the pantry.
After a full day of chasing a feral 3-year-old who had turned against me I left my man cub in his room while he read books and sat on my family room couch, wondering what had happened to make him turn against me. Suddenly I heard something that makes all mothers panic: silence. Not just any silence though. It’s the silence that can only mean one thing: trouble. Like the silence before a worldwide catastrophe. Or maybe the silence before your head explodes. Either one.
I sat up on the couch, suddenly alert. Confirmed. My boy was not in his room. Definitely not in his room. I quietly walked down the hallway and locked in on my target — wild giggling in my bedroom. Oh no. No, no, no… not the wild giggling. Unsupervised wild giggling on a Naughty Parade Day is not a good sign. I wanted to cry but I could do this. I was an adult with advanced degrees. I could face whatever was in there. Deep breaths.
My room was covered in a white cloud of dust with my little boy jumping on the bed having the time of his life. In his little hands was a brand new Costco-sized bottle of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. Open. An enormous POOF! of powder would fly into the air each time he landed on the bed and he giggled hysterically. My eyeballs officially fell out of my head.
Baby powder covered my carpet, my dresser, my clean baskets of laundry, my drapes… everything. And he jumped, and jumped, and jumped — absolutely delighted with himself and each POOF! that covered him. I couldn’t say anything at all, could only stare at him, until he noticed me and dropped the bottle on my bed saying, “Whoops!”
I didn’t yell. I refuse to yell at my children because that is all I knew growing up. I took a deep powdery breath and said, “You’ve been having fun…”
And then my sweet little boy who had been on such a naughty rampage all day long said something that made all the difference, “I just wanted to make your room smell so pretty, Mama…”
All I could do was hug him, “Well you certainly did a great job, didn’t you?” And he really did. Each time the air conditioner went on a big puff of baby powder would come fluffing out with the air.
It had been a long weekend but I would give anything to go back and relive it again, to be able to watch my son who is now 15-years-old jump on my bed with that bottle of baby powder and giggle uncontrollably with each puff of powder. I can’t remember even of the things he did that day that had frustrated me so much, only the general eau de naughtiness of it all. But I remember so vividly watching him jump in such innocence wanting to make room smell so pretty.
Mothering can be so damn hard sometimes. But I can promise that the hardest days can be forgotten and all that is left are the puffs of delight.