Last night I sat at the dinner table worn, exhausted, contemplating my effectiveness as a mom.
An hour earlier I had been kneeling in the rain on the edge of a busy sidewalk as dozens of people walked by. I was clinging to my four year old and using every tool in both my mom and counselor arsenals to get him to calm down and talk to me about what he was feeling rather than screaming. He was not a good listener in his occupational therapy appointment and did not receive the prized lollipop from the therapist – the lollipop that he had been talking about since before we got there. He ran out of the appointment and down the busy sidewalk, angry and stubborn as only an extremely strong-willed 4 year old can be. I was the crazy woman running down the sidewalk after him, frustrated and in love with this wild child, afraid for his safety, and embarrassed by his actions.
And now here we were on the sidewalk, rain pouring down. Here I was trying to rationalize with a child who at this point was definitely not in a rational state of mind. I pulled out my cell phone to call my husband to pick us up. There was no way a taxi was going to pick up this soaking wet pair of mom and screaming child.
He ran again, down the sidewalk and around the corner. A stranger blocked his way to allow the frantic, running mom shouting “stop” to catch up. The rain came harder. I held him in my arms. I told him I loved him, but we had to find another way to handle this.
We hunched under the awning next to a hairdresser’s shop. Little by little he started to calm down, all while still begging for his lollipop. He rationally understood why he did not earn it, but oh how he wanted it. The rain poured harder. A kind mother inside the shop knocked on the window and told us to come inside. We called Dad again to tell him we were okay. After all, I frantically hung up on him the last time we both went running. He talked to his dad and gradually calmed down some more.
Eventually we climbed into our taxi and made our way home. He fell asleep in my lap in the car, sweet and peaceful; a totally different child than he had been 30 minutes earlier.
And now here I was at the dinner table sitting next to my 6 year old.
“Mommy why do you look so sad?”
“Your brother made some bad choice tonight and wasn’t a good listener. Sometimes when he behaves that way I feel like I am not doing a good job as mom.”
“When we misbehave and don’t listen you feel like a bad mom?”
He contemplated this deep within his 6 year old self and patted my arm in reassurance.
After the boys were in bed I hunched over the toilet getting rid of most of the dinner I had eaten. Apparently my third child, still in the womb, needed to get in on the evening’s action.
I laid in bed and I prayed. I prayed that I would learn how to parent each of my children individually and love them well. I prayed for stamina, wisdom and strength. I snuck in a few prayers that this third baby would be more relaxed and a little less strong-willed than my second child.
This is my life. This is motherhood – the highs and the lows and all the in between days. It’s not for the weak.
6 thoughts on “It’s Not for the Weak”
Abby, as I read the story on one day’s experience with Josiah, I remembered a period long ago with our youngest son. We dealt with similar behavior on a daily basis and it was exhausting emotionally and physically for us as parents. The one thing that we found most effective was to simply wrap our arms around him, effectively binding him and not allowing him to move. Acting on the advice of his therapist we said nothing, expending all of our energy just holding him. My wife wasn’t pregnant at the time, but she did suffer from serious physical problems, so it was especially difficult for her. There were instances when we would have hold him for 15-20 minutes, and it seemed like hours. We could tell when it was time to release, as he would go limp as if he was finally giving up. At that point he would become a “normal” child again. We discovered that the silence was more effective than the verbal reassurances that we loved him. I wouldn’t presume to suggest that this is the answer for what you are experiencing. I can only tell you that in our case it worked and that we can understand and identify with what you are going through. It was a very difficult period for all of us because we knew that he was in emotional pain. Praying for all of you! ~Chuck Grimm
Thanks for sharing your experience, Chuck. It’s good to here the stories of others who “made it through”. Thanks for the prayers!
Thank you for your gift to so many of us. You share so much heartfelt Love. You are courageous to pour out your heart.
You are in my heart and in my prayers on this Mothers Day. My prayers for you, your husband and your little ones will not let up.
May you feel His hand in yours every step of today. Love Barbara
Thank you so much, Barbara!
Abby, You are not alone in this and neither is your son. I also have a daughter who sounds very much like your son. It is exhausting and challenges everything you thought you knew about parenting. We have found that doing similar things to what Chuck mentioned above, have worked very well. Sometimes doing what seemed to be counterintuitive (yet it was doing what my deeper intuition told me was the right thing to do), was what worked best. I learned that I could not use the traditional methods of discipline or even types of reward systems that so many parents use. Eventually, we found some ways that helped her, “decompress” and as Chuck mentioned, she was then a “normal” child again and we could talk about and deal with what had occurred. Probably the one thing that helped the most was helping her to plan and anticipate certain situations, especially those where she might encounter disappointment or an unexpected situation. For instance, before going to a birthday party I might walk her through a situation where she did not get to choose which color balloon she would get. Helping her practice her response. We have done a lot of role playing! I have to say, your mom had a way with her that made her feel safe and she responded very well to her in Sunday school. I pray that you will be given wisdom and peace as you raise this wonderful little man.
Thanks for sharing your story, Cherie. It’s good to know that we’re not alone. Thank you so much for your prayers and sharing your personal experiences. I really appreciate it.