I stood, speechless, watching my 4 year old son sob on the sofa. I'd just been very short with him. Actually, I'd classify it as a low-level yell. He was sputtering and stuttering over a sentence while I waited to see what he had to say. "I want a different...a different...a different..."
"I want a different mommy."
I stiffened. Hurtful. But then I thought, of course you do. I said it out loud.
"Of course you do." His sobbing subsided a little to listen. "Why wouldn't you want a different mommy. This one is yelling at you. Hold on. I'll get you a different mommy."
I closed my eyes. Breathe two three four five. Out, two three, four five. I thought, poor little man, so sad about so little. I need to help him learn to work through this grief, whether or not I agree with the severity. I want to be a different mommy. I am a different mommy.
"Okay, here's a different mommy for you."
He came willingly to my lap, and sighed.
"It's hard when you really want something and it turns out a different way, and then mommy starts getting mad because you're upset and that just makes it harder, huh?" He cuddled in like he did when he was smaller.
"Maybe we can think of a way that you can keep track of whose turn it is yourselves, so I don't have to keep arbitrating this conflict."
He looked up, excited. "Yeah! I can have ideas! I'll think about it!"
"What do you need to think about?"
"Maybe like using stickers, or maybe we put a paper and practice writing it, or maybe...I don't know. I want to think about it."
He jumped off my lap. Tantrum finished. Because I was a different mommy.