Gosh, I really hope today is a better day for Liam. Yesterday started out well. For about 2 minutes. He woke up fairly happy and glad to see Henry and me. Then I stepped out of his room for literally ten seconds. When I came back, he was screaming. I thought he was just mad at me for disapearing so quickly after saying good morning. He continued to wail as I picked him up and attempted our morning routine. He would have none of it. Liam's high-pitched shrieks echoed through the house. He struggled to get out of my arms but once down on the floor, he cried even louder. I tried everything to comfort him. I checked him for a fever and other physical causes of the distress. I detected nothing obvious. Still the screaming persisted. Finally I gave up on the upstairs routine, came downstairs and put him in his highchair.
Sitting at the table is one of Liam's favorite activities as long as there is finger food in front of him. Not this day. By now he had been bawling for ten minutes and I still had no idea why. He wouldn't eat any of the favorites I put in front of him. Bananas never fail to make it into his mouth and leave him with a smile. Not this day. I considered it a victory that he held tight to the banana slice instead of throwing it to the floor as he continued to scream.
Henry stood in front of him, asking "What's wrong Yee-um?" I believe he was just as perplexed by his brother's bad mood as I was. "Don't cry, Yee-um. Mommy's here. See. It's okay." Really, it was a very sweet gesture on Henry's part. I could barely hear his words though; Liam shrieked through the entire exhchange.
At this point I gave up all hope of being on time for work. I sent a text to my babysitter telling her we'd be late. I figured I'd call the school office from the car (whenever I managed to get on the road) and ask someone to cover the first few minutes of class.
I was glad that the windows were closed. Otherwise the neighbors would be concerned by the cacophony coming from our little house. I could barely hear myself think. Maybe that's why, in desperation, I reached for the leftover birthday cake in the refrigerator. I thought it couldn't hurt. Who doesn't love birthday cake? Even if it didn't help quiet Liam, cake would comfort Henry and me. Yes, it was 7 am, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I put a small slice in front of Liam and another on Henry's USA placemat. Both boys were stunned. Liam cried until the first morsel of frosted chocolate reached his mouth.
Then he was quiet.
The walls seemed to shudder as if they, too, could not believe the relief silence brought. Now all I had to do was sustain the quiet, pick up the pieces of the morning routine, get some real food in the boys and get us all out the door. I proceeded through each task walking on eggshells so as not to disturb the delicate balance that had resulted in Liam's precarious calm. I even had a slice of cake to calm my nerves.
I spent many moments throughout the day trying to figure out what caused Liam's prolonged screaming. Lately, he does not want to be held. He gets upset when his brother takes his toys. He is picky about food and refuses to eat half of what I put in front of him. I believe that's all normal for a toddler his age. But when he pushes me away as I greet him (upon my return from work or first thing in the morning), I wonder if something is really wrong with our bond.
It's a mother's job and privilege to comfort her child. What a terrible feeling when I can't do that. I'm realizing that having a second child does not mean I can tackle every situation with expertise. It just makes me twice as unsure of what I'm doing. Henry and Liam's demands are so different right now. Even when I know what Liam needs, I can't provide for him the way I did with my only child. At least not with the breadth and depth I think he deserves.
So, let's hope today is a better day. We're completely out of birthday cake and I'm out of ideas...