Today was a day.
Seemed simple enough at first. Two kids to school; the younger two home due to an unexpected teacher work day. Late breakfast, phone games, a trip to the playground. Easy peasy extra squeazy.
But then, sometime around lunch time Jing Yun tried out playing with the automatic van door, hitting the button so many times in a row that the confused door just couldn’t stop moving. The whole van rocked back in forth in the store parking lot as I waited, dumbfounded, for it to stop. Turns out the door is broken. Bummer.
Startled and regretful after this turn of events, Jing Yun’s inner tiger emerged. What should have been an easy trip to the orthodontist for Naomi to get her braces repaired turned into my wrangling him on the floor of their waiting room, using all my therapeutic skills to help him through. From there, once home, he bullied the cats, his sister and me. Recklessly he broke several other things in the house, ran out in front of a moving car (by mistake, not looking), and generally made an ever- escalating bigger mess of things.
Meanwhile, I have spent hours over the last few days on the phone with a medical insurance company that is currently refusing to cover his doctor visits and any necessary medications. Quinn has developed a rash that looks unpleasantly like something picked up from the orphanage in China. Naomi’s post-orthodontist mouth hurts too much for her to eat and Ava, well, Ava found life overwhelming today and required a very quiet long hour of audible books in bed to help her settle down.
So, it’s been one of those days. One of those days when I feel maybe I can’t be gentle one minute longer. One of those days when I struggle not to worry about what Jing Yun’s behavior will look like once “the honeymoon” is over. One of those days when it all felt too much.
And then, bedtime. We snuggle and we read and I keep my voice quiet and happy and I think “I hope he doesn’t know what a big act this is right now” and we carry him to his bed and I kiss him and I say, as always, “wo ai ni baobao” (I love you baby) but this time he returns “wo ai ni Mama”. And because it was so sweet to hear, and because I wanted to hear it again, we played the I love you game where I said ” I love you baby tiger” and he said ” I love you mama tiger” and then he was a baby panda and then a baby koala. And soon, we had spoken these words so many times, with so much laughter and love, that I had forgotten, for just a minute, how very tired, and frustrated and overwhelmed and DONE I was.
For just a minute, even at the end of a very long day, he was just my tiger baby and we were lost in each other’s gaze.
Who knows when he will finally sleep or what it will take to get him there. Regardless, tomorrow we will wake up and do it over all again, but a little bit better this time. Because love is always enough. And because tiger mamas refuse to fail.