Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Those 'I Can't Help You' Moments

Moms are supposed to be able to do anything, true? Right every wrong... heal every hurt. Draw, sing, help with crafts, kiss boo boos, and make peaches into Nemos. P. frequently tells me that I'm the best and she's 100% sincere. In the moment, anyway. And when nothing else has captured her enthusiasm. But hey, I don't mind being on equal footing with dark chocolate covered pretzels.

Fact is, though, I'm not the best. Just pretty good most days. And downright terrible now and then during what I call 'I can't help you' moments.

I can recall the first of these moments like it was yesterday even though P. couldn't have been more than two years old at the time. She was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a half peeled banana, when an overzealous bite knocked the top of the banana to the floor. I, er, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the offending fruit part before placing it back onto the table and turning my attention back toward whatever I'd been doing. Probably dishes.

Whatever it was, I was interrupted by the sound of P. bursting into tears. What's wrong, I asked, thinking maybe she'd bitten her tongue or had some sort of other mishap alarming enough to warrant this level of sobbing.

"Mama!" she wailed. "Put. It. Back. Together?"

No can do, I told her. And if the broken banana itself was singularly painful event in her young life, the fact that here was mom powerless to turn back time was absolutely devastating. P. must have cried for half an hour. While I tried to console her between alternating bouts of frustration and amusement.

While we do work hard as a family to be good problem solvers and to find effective compromises, there are times where there is literally nothing I or the mister can do to bring about the desired result. Like when P. suddenly remembers how she sweetly gave away the heart-shaped balloon from her third birthday which was nearly a year ago and is suddenly so sad that it's gone.

helping children heal

Or any time she makes a bad decision that results in a consequence and realizes seconds too late that what she's done isn't nice, smart, or thoughtful. Because, dang, look at that face.


Luckily, there haven't been too many 'I can't help you' moments in P.'s life but I get the feeling their number will increase as the years go by and she enters a wider sphere. Broken bananas will probably turn into broken hearts, and I won't be able to put those back together. No matter how much I might like to. The broken banana incident was at least undercut by humor. The other stuff? Will just be plain old heartbreaking.

*double sigh*


  1. I feel ya. Just wait till they get older and you have to start using google to help them with their homework - in third grade. Oy!!

    1. I don't even want to think about that! I keep hearing about the new new new math. The old math worked just fine...

  2. That's so hard when you want to protect and coddle them!


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