I don’t always run to her room when I hear crying. No, it’s not because I’m a terrible mom. It’s because I’m a third-time mom. I’m on my third round of deciphering cries and I’m getting pretty good.
There are the “I just don’t want to nap” cries. There are the “I’m testing you” cries. The “I don’t want to be alone” cries. The “I’m on the verge of falling asleep” cries. The “I want something and you better believe I’m going to make your life miserable until I get it” cries.
Then, there are the “Something just happened. Something bad. Something so bad there are no words – just wails. Come.Get.Me.Now.” cries.
And this was one of those days.
I flung open her door, not sure what to expect. With a fairly empty room, there are only so many potential calamities and casualties. Generally, they are predictable.
But I hadn’t seen this one coming.
She was stuck – no, trapped – in a nightgown 8 sizes too small. And this is no exaggeration.
A few months ago, she got this adorable “my doll and me” type pajama set. One in her size and one fit for a doll. A very small doll. They are identical, so her error was understandable. Size differentiation isn’t yet her thing.
We’re talking head-in, arm nearly-through, trapped.
And the tears. Oh, the tears!!
It was completely justifiable! 35 pounds of toddler wedged through a hole the size of a quarter. If my arm was stuck in a tiny elastic flanneled Minnie Mouse sleeve, I’d be red-faced and sobbing, too. This was an all-out emergency.
Now, I’ve managed to grab the camera for pantry-climbings, Sharpie art, Rice Krispie explosions, I’m-about-to-jump from the half-wall situations and much more. But this was so dire, no camera was retrieved. This moment wouldn’t be captured.
I shudder thinking about my poor girl if I’d deemed this one of those lesser cries. How long would she have been trapped and what would the end result have been?
Once she was rescued, I demonstrated (for the billionteenth time) how this dress fit on Belle, Doc McStuffins, her build-a-bear and Rapunzel but did NOT fit on her. And she happily went back to not-napping (a developmental milestone she has reached well ahead of her peers.)
Things often look like they are mine. I can have a hard time deciphering boundaries. Solving problems that weren’t mine to solve. Speaking into situations I wasn’t invited into. Fighting fights that aren’t mine. Jumping in out of turn and out of line.
With my friends.
With my kids.
With my husband.
Even with strangers.
I’m not suggesting we all just mind our own business – we are better together and have much to offer each other. But, I think a more mindful, slow-your-roll approach keeps us where we are welcome.
When I’m inserting myself into a problem that’s not mine to solve/assess/speak into, I don’t have a collected way of slipping back out. Fully tangled. Circulation cut off by bitty elastic. Doll clothes that weren’t fit for my wearing.
I just don’t look as adorable once someone comes to my aid.