Tonight I didn’t pick WV up and chuck him across the room. I didn’t crack him in two over my knee. I didn’t reach into his throat and rip his voice box out and raise it up in the air with a primal “yalp!” I didn’t Jackie Chan face chop him with my palm and a loud “hi-ya!” And the fact that I didn’t do any of these things is, in itself, a major accomplishment. Oh Lord, I wanted to. I imagined each of these scenarios in perfect detail.

It started with his dramatic screaming about his dad cutting his hair. He cried that it hurt (it didn’t), that it was taking too long (it wasn’t), that the hair was itchy (get over it). It was nonsense about something that we have to do every month, something that he should be used to by now.

All day, he had sipped away at my patience quota—this morning it was overflowing. We had weeks and weeks of good leading up today. But somehow, it was “one of those days”, and my solid store of patience had been leaking. A thin layer remained after the haircut drama. I said he did not get gummies (a reward for a good haircut), and he wouldn’t get his story before bedtime either. I had nothing left to take away.

My voice was raw from yelling. I do not always yell. But patience is like a gas tank. At a quarter full, I have no option but to raise the decibel. My light was on at this point—actually, it had been on a while. I was in the 5 miles left warning zone. Then his cries continued after his shower, but for pathetic reasons. His pajamas were twisted. His Lego guy wouldn’t stand up straight. Vivvi had his giraffe-y.

And so I imagined all of those wonderful scenarios from the first paragraph. They seemed so satisfying. And I realized how much “patience” equals “goodness.” Children can be vampires some days. They can suck everything that is good right out of us, until all that is left is (thankfully, blessedly) restraint.

At the realization that I was running on fumes, I left his room and pulled his door closed. Wally clawed at the door and screamed. He continued his fit about some nonsense—I lost track of what he was complaining about at this point. And I held his door closed to keep him safe from the monster he had turned me into. I asked Husband Wally to put him to bed, and he obliged.

Then I laid on our bed and recovered. My brain and body were a buzz of angry static—why did I let him wear on me? How can he be so grating? Why, when I’m empty of patience, does anger and ugliness and meanness fester at the bottom of my barrel?

I didn’t move. I didn’t talk. I let life return to my body. Husband Wally and Vivvi laid next to me—I noticed them eventually, when my tank had bounced back from E. They were looking at Nature pictures on Instagram, a photo feed Vivvi loves. She was turning to me on occasion, saying, “Mommy, see that animal? Mommy, talk to me.”

The Nature photo feed shows nature scenes like dogs swimming underwater, 140 year old turtles with their 5 day old babies on their heads, tigers playing. Vivvi especially loves the pictures with mom animals and their babies. I requested a closeup of an elephant at sunset in Africa, trailed by her two little ones. I imagined them, in the desert, wandering, looking for somewhere to get a drink—the dry, hot air. I imagined all of these mom animals and their babies, thirsty, wild, surviving. It brought a tear to my eye, because it was real, and I was raw, and it told me that I was not alone.

Photo Credit: aftab. via Compfight cc