IN OTHER WORDS | Things Are Gonna Get Easier

O-o-h child things are gonna get easier
O-o-h child things’ll get brighter

The other day my eldest, my tween, said to me (in high-pitched, really fast stress voice) “You and Daddy treat me like a like grown up when I want to be a child and a child when I want to be a grown up. It’s not fair.” This was after asking me to make him a sandwich, something he is more than capable of doing himself. And, I had said as much. And, I was already doing seven other things. I was about to get into it with him, and then I stopped. I took in all five feet, ten inches of my baby boy in his Weezer glasses and his cool Beatles 60’s haircut. And his face was all red and he dragged the bar stool across the kitchen tile and sat down in a humph.

I went over and put my arms around him. “Oh, sweetie, it’s hard to be in between, isn’t it?” “Un huh,” he said nodding into my hug. “I know,” I said. “It’s confusing sometimes because you’re not sure who you are. But you’re capable and awesome. And, you also feel like a kid sometimes. It’s OK. That’s what it feels like to be twelve.” And we stayed interlocked for a few seconds and then he leaned his head back, gave me a kiss and went on to eat his sandwich. The sandwich he’d made for himself.

A few nights ago, my youngest, my nine year old, had a rough night. He’s been having them consistently since suffering a concussion six months ago. After a slow recovery, after the neurologist proclaimed his brain healed, he’s had issues with insomnia and headaches. A lingering, unwelcome bonus, apparently normal after a head injury. He also has other neurological issues. The perfect storm of brain switches and triggers to lead to insomnia and headaches. It’s been rough and scary. I wanted to comfort him. He’d get so upset about not being able to sleep and it would spiral. For too long, I cuddled him to sleep, after hours of back and forth to his bedroom, every minute of my evening taken up in care-taking, stressing my body, my emotional state, and my marriage.

Lots of advice, routines, and plans later and the headaches are mostly gone, but the insomnia lingers. We developed a specific plan with the doctor (an independent plan taking me out of the picture, no excessive cuddling, Mom gets her night back) and he’s been doing really well. But, a few days ago, he had a hard night. That’s all, it was just a hard night. In the past a misstep would have sent me reeling. Instead I acted on instinct (and fatigue) and climbed into bed with my over-exhausted boy. By the time I got to him, it was so late, for both of us. His eyes were red-rimmed, weary with tears, his body almost limp. Within seconds he was breathing heavily.

Later, in bed, I thought about that song, “O-o-h Child.” A friend had reminded me of it and I’d been watching the same YouTube video of The Five Stairsteps on Soul Train, tearing up with every view. I realized that he didn’t need a refresher course on the “plan.” He didn’t need another sit down. He just needed to know that things would get easier. And, that he’s not completely on his own.

Last night, he started his pre-bedtime routine. He read on his beanbag chair. The next step is to get into bed when he gets drowsy. But, he’s a little kid. He might be drowsy, but he also wants to read. So, he’d push it. He’d power through the drowsy and read one more chapter. Last night, at nine, after he’d been reading for thirty minutes and was, I knew, exhausted from a busy day, I stopped by his room. “Hey bud.” Sure enough, he’d moved on to a new book. “Time to climb in.” Not a second of resistance, he moaned a little and climbed into bed. “Goodnight Mommy. I love you.”

Someday we’ll get it together and we’ll get it undone
Someday when the world is much brighter.

O-o-h Child copyright The Five Stairsteps.


  1. says:

    Hey – you’ve been busy…… that song. I’ll have to look it up. How does it feel writing about your experiences? Does it take the stress away? Does it help ground you? Just wondering. Don’t you wish you had a mom like you? i know i do….J


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