Sisterhood of Motherdom

August 24, 2006

There has been a good bit of buzz lately about the so-called Mommy Wars. It’s not the kind of thing I spend much energy worrying about, but today’s little adventure showed me that the Sisterhood of Motherdom is far stronger than any media frenzy garbage.

My newly adopted 2-year-old, AKA M-2, has learned that for the most part he has to do what Mom and Dad ask at home.  He’s a bit more difficult to handle in public. I take total responsibility for this because I try to keep him out of situations where he will want to test his boundaries and when he does I usually re-direct him rather than forcing the issue. The smart little guy has picked up on my strategy and does what any normal 2-year-old would do . . . he works that much harder to push the envelope. So, today M (my 5-year-old daughter), M-2 and I went to the Nature Museum without the stroller with the intent of some major fun and learning. We were not disappointed.
The great thing about the Nature Museum is that it is small, little-kid friendly and never crowded. We had a great time visiting with the animals and crawling through tunnels and made it over to the play area filled with neat puzzles, books and a cool puppet theatre. Both M’s had a great time putting on a little show and checking out the books and then decided to do some puzzles. M-2 promptly dumped his pieces onto the floor and then decided to return to the puppet theatre to play. I called him back and reminded him that we needed to clean-up first. He absolutely refused. An epic battle followed. I offered the choices.

Mom – You may pick up your pieces or stand right here between my knees with your hands by your sides looking at me.

Yep, you guessed it – he picked the standing bit accompanied by blood curdling shrieks. Then, like any defiant 2-year-old, he decided to see what would happen if he grabbed me and flailed a bit. Like any loving mother, I “helped” him control his hands and body. Each time he took a breath, I asked him if he would like to pick up his pieces. Each time he looked at the pieces, looked at me, and began the shrieking again.

Mom – No problem, we’ll just stand here until you are ready.

M was a champ and busied herself with the books and puppets. Other children and their parents came and went and I did my best to pretend they weren’t there and focus on the task at hand. Some people ignored us and others said variations of, “Lets come back with that little boy stops crying.”

About 10 minutes into the process, I wondered if I should have removed him to another area for this little drama so that we wouldn’t disturb other NM patrons, but who knew he was going to make such a big deal out of it? (Okay, I should have seen it coming.) It didn’t matter because I was committed by that point. Any change in the plan would have sent us backwards and I certainly don’t want either of us to have to repeat this process more often than necessary. So there we stayed, me sitting on a tiny stool with him between my knees yelling, screaming, blubbering and drooling. This went on for 49 minutes.

Finally, he took a breath . . .
Mom – Would you like to pick up your pieces? ( praying to all that is holy for a “yes”)
M-2 – (accompanied by snubbing and whimpering ) Yes!
M and I both cheered him on as he reached down and picked up the first piece, still crying a bit, snuffling and scowling. We erupted into a happy dance and a “Go M-2” cheer as he went for the second one. By the third piece he was grinning and after the fourth and final piece we were all hugging and clapping and hi-fiving one another. Hallalujiah!!! We were making yet another scene, but hey, they were never going to let us back in there again anyway.

I scooped M-2 into my arms to make our exit before they threw us out, trying not to look any one in the eye and considering whether we would ever leave the house again and whether it was appropriate to stay at home or in the woods until M-2 is 29. I had to look up when a soft voice said “I hate to ask, but I don’t have a single diaper in my bag.” The poor woman looked absolutely mortified. I handed her a diaper and beamed “Hey, it happens!” She relaxed a bit and smiled as she bustled her fragrant child towards the bathroom. Feeling a little better, I turned to step over my stool and an grandmotherly type in a Nature Museum polo shirt said “Honey, you did great!” I wanted to hug her. I swear, I’m going to buy that woman a present!!

As the three of us walked to the car, I snuggled the sweaty M-2 a bit tighter and looked into his eyes. He was smiling. He learned that the boundaries exist, even in public – no matter what he does. And my sisters reminded me that there is nothing more important than creating that security for him.