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A Safe Haven

I have seen "Monster's, Inc" 1,492 times. Give or take a few hundred. Seems this movie is always the favorite when my kids are around age 2. My eldest daughter, Bria called it "Corporated" and watched it multiple times a day while I was dying on the couch pregnant with my second baby, Chloe. Chloe called it "Monsters" and saw it quite a bit, too, but since I was not pregnant I tried to limit her to once per day. My youngest daughter, Sophia, calls it "Ink" and has been on her kick for months now. She even finally wore out the video tape we had had since Bria was tiny and I had to go buy the DVD.

Sophia is funny when she watches it. That very first scene--the one where you see the child sleeping in a dark room and then the monster sneaks in to harvest his screams--scares Sophia to death. Interestingly enough, what frightens her is the anticipation of something scary. The shadows on the walls, the darkness, the music. Once she sees the monster's eyes, she's fine and starts to laugh because she knows what happens next. During the dark part, she either puts her blanket on her head and stealthily peeks out every few seconds or else she runs to my arms and actually dares to watch the whole thing, as long as I am holding her.

If there has to be a movie for me to see thousands of times, I'm glad it's this one. I actually really like it a lot. Besides its cleverness, I think it has taught me a little bit about being a parent. I love the scene where Waternoose needs Sully to demonstrate his scaring prowess, and when he finally does, he doesn't realize that Boo is right there. Boo is suddenly terrified of the big blue monster that she had previously trusted implicitly. Consequently, she finds solace in the arms of Mr. Waternoose, who seems to her to be the next safe adult around.

The other day, I lost patience with Sophia, and I hurt her feelings. She wouldn't have anything to do with me for a while after that and was crying for Daddy, the next safe adult in her world. I thought back to that scene in the movie and I realized that I literally do become a monster in the eyes of my children when I yell at my kids. It is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses as a parent, and I'm constantly working on it. Yes, I can blame PMS and I can blame low blood sugar, two very real occurrences in my life, but can I really? Shouldn't I be able to learn how to stay calm? For whatever it's worth, I am trying.

Later that night, after we had kissed and made-up, Sophia wanted to sleep with me. Which was fine, because my husband was out of town, and I always let her then. When we got into bed there was a scary shadow on the ceiling because of the way the bright alarm clock was sitting on the nightstand. Sophia looked at it for a while, told me it scared her, and then put her blanket right on her head, just like she does when she's watching the movie. Just when I thought she had fallen asleep, she would peek her eyes out to see if the shadow was still there, and then quickly hide again. I finally realized I could probably just move the alarm clock so it wasn't casting any shadows and I happened to move it right when she was stealing another glance at the ceiling. Instead of just going away, the shadow looked like it was growing across the top of the room and it really scared her. She rolled over and grabbed onto me and buried her head into the pillow.

Eventually, she worked up the confidence to look up, and was relieved to find the shadow gone. Then she cuddled up to me and fell asleep. Safe in her mother's arms.

As I was trying to fall asleep myself, I made a few resolutions. Never again do I want to be the monster in my children's lives, PMS or not. No, I want to be the one whose arms they run to when the monsters of the world are chasing them. I want to be the safe haven.

Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging). You can read all about her adventures at Overstuffed.

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