I suppose there are many moments in a mother's life when she recognizes that profound willingness to jump in front of a train for the love of her child; the moments when you recognize that the love you hold for your little one causes you to sacrifice self, time, tears and freedom...anything. You know the moments I'm talking about. Today I would like to list a few of those recent occurrences in my life.
1) We are quite certain that our two year old is our last child. For that reason, I think I've tried to keep him a baby for as long as possible. I know, I know that is definitely more about me than him. Nevertheless, he is not potty trained and still uses a pacifier. By this age, both my other children were paci-less and diaper free. I've tried several times to get him off the pacifier and I've given in every time. Most times giving in out of sheer desperation to stop the incessant crying...so again...more about me than him.
Today, as we were leaving Walmart, my third kiddo dropped the paci accidentally and, of course, it rolled all the way underneath the car next to ours.
I thought: Now is the time to rid ourselves of the pacifier. I explained how it was gone and dirty and "bye bye". I expressed to our two year old the goal of being a "big boy" and not using a pacifier ever again. I offered ice cream. I offered cookies. It was pathetic. I even went over how irrational it was to retrieve a pacifier from the ground of a Walmart and the viruses/germs/anti-freeze that was sure to cover it. No go.
Two year old response: GIANT TEARS. QUIET SOBS. Pleading, "mommy, get paci. Pweeeeeese. Pweeeeeeese, mommy...my paci. Paci gone gone, mommy?"
Please understand that if this had been a tantrum, that pacifier would still be in the parking lot getting covered in motor oil. This was not a tantrum. It was pure unadulterated sadness. I could not bear it. So, I did what any other mother would do in this situation. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled under someone else' vehicle to retrieve the stupid thing. I will say, the best part came later when I heard, "oh tank u, mommy. I nuv u. I nuv my paci." It was worth it. Of course, ask me if it was worth it when he is 15 and still chewing on the thing and I'm sure to have a different story.
2) I have dolled out time outs, spankings, groundings, and toy removals all in the hopes that my four year old will stop climbing over the couch. Every day...no exaggeration...every day we go over this. I knew he was going to fall. It was imminent and he did. He fell head first into the heating vent getting a giant bruise over his eyebrow, a black eye and a scrapped up bloody nose. He was screaming.
Normally, when my children are injured my gut instinct is to be the nurturer and comforter. I hurt with them and I have never done well in bloody situations. I am a over-reactor. This time was no different. When he ran screaming into the kitchen bleeding from his face my stomach started to climb out of my throat. I immediately felt that knee jerk reaction to inform him that no other child had experienced such horrific trauma and that mommy will heal all the wounds afterward providing sugary treats until the Disney channel lulls him to dreamland.
However, I knew that I had to hold it together for the lesson learned. Sure, I comforted him, but we had a long talk about why it happened, how it happened, and how to keep it from happening again. These moments are super tough because your instinct says one thing, but your head another. I will fight my knee jerk instincts every time for him. He is worth my discomfort.
3) My daughter brought home a blue slip yesterday. This is the disciplinary sheet that our elementary school uses. Apparently she had, at the request of a friend, sneaked a frog into her backpack after recess. When her teacher asked about it...she denied doing it. Uh oh.
Firstly, I was totally pumped that she touched a frog. I really don't want a squeamish kid that won't touch worms or goes squealing down the hall at the sight of a lizard. That part did not bother me at all. I was impressed.
She lied. That was the worst part. She was very penitent. Through tears, we made her write an apology letter and had a very long conversation about lying that night. Before bed I told her stories about my past struggles with not always telling the whole truth. We talked about that even if the truth hurts someone's feelings or even if you get caught in a bad situation, it is always better to speak the truth because God says so.
At the end of our conversation, my little one prayed and asked God to forgive her (without my prompting, I might add). Then she thanked God for me...for me. I can't express in words what that meant to hear. I love her so much and when I see that just a tiny bit of my faith is passed to her...it makes every diaper, every frustration, every late night and early morning, every fingerprint or glass of spilled milk just disappear and not matter any more.
A close of mine mentioned something to me yesterday that I think has changed my life, a little. My kids are not mine. They belong to God. I get to share them for a few short years and then I must let them go. I would jump in front of a bus for each one them any day, but after all is said and done I also have to be willing to let them go. I am treasuring the moments that I have while I have them. I hope you do the same.
Happy Mother's day, my dear friends.