I want to teach my boys compassion and kindness. Not anger and harshness. And yet, I'm definitely doing more of the latter with my bad attitude. Why does it make me so mad that he won't eat his bananas? Why do I get so irritated when he insists on doing things a certain way? When he cries about something as routine as a nap? His little childlike ways often grate my nerves. And so it's easy to assess my day on the negative interactions alone, since I feel they outweigh any good interactions. Or rather, I fear for Jack, the bad outweighs the good in his little heart. That I just keep damaging him with my words and actions. Even though, for instance, I went into his room after letting him cry for a few minutes to settle him for his nap, gently stroking his head, speaking softly to him, rubbing his back, I feel like it doesn't make up for being insensitive to his feelings and the fact that he'd rather stay up and play than go to bed.
In the words of another mother - "I never knew how much anger was inside me until I had kids." I feel like this defines my mothering experience at the moment. And I desperately want that to change. And so I've made improvements and I've been praying for God to soften my heart, and in small ways that blazing fire of anger inside me has calmed a little bit. Is a little more under control. But it is still there, and it still burns my children more than I'd care to admit.
I miss feeling for Jack what I feel for Moses - compassion and tenderness. For some reason, when they're babies, it's easier to forgive so much. They ask so little of me - just to be fed, changed, and cuddled. They're little bundles of cute, chubby love. But when they're two - they demand so much. The need, the dependency upon me for what feels like more than I'm able to give is exhausting and draining. When Jack discovered his autonomous nature, it was as if we went to war, and ever since we've been trying to bend the other's will to our own. And so I find myself in hostile territories at times; one moment we'll be having a perfectly pleasant conversation or time of play and the next he'll be coloring on something he shouldn't or hitting Moses on the head (or me) for the hundredth time, and now the pleasantries are over. I know this is all typical, that he's acting exactly as a two year old might. But for some reason, my 28 year old self does not do well in handling naughtiness or irrational behavior, and so I find myself struggling to be understanding (while still firm, of course) instead of irritated.
The thing is... I also desperately love my boys. There is a deep ache for them as well as a deep compassion for them that flows from an entirely different place than where the anger comes from. It seems that the evening is when I have the most clarity, especially when it comes to my relationship with Jack. We are both doing our best to exert our will over the other person's, so we frequently butt heads throughout the day. But at night, when he's laying in bed and we're whispering to each other, it's my chance for confession and repentance. To tell him once more that I'm sorry for the way I spoke to him earlier. To remind him that despite what I might say or do, he's special, smart and important. To try and heal the emotional wounds I may have caused with a thousand I love you's. Last night as I laid my head next to his and looked into his soft little eyes and whispered "Jack" and he whispered back "What Mommy?" something inside me broke and all of my guilt and shame over the ways I've been too hard on him or too unforgiving or too irritated or too impatient came flooding out in sobs and "I'm so sorry's." Naturally, he had no idea what to do with himself except lay quietly and wait till I collected myself and stopped crying. And when I did, I invited him to cuddle me in my bed because the need to hold him close to was so strong and I knew it would heal us both a little bit. And as I pressed my head to his chest, he wrapped his arm around my neck as if to comfort me in my sorrow over my sin and the lost innocence of our relationship which I so desperately want back.
I'm thankful I serve a God of redemption who desires reconciliation and good to come out of any broken relationship. And I know that through all of this, the light that shines in the darkness of my heart is Him exposing my anger for what it is: a refusal to lay down my life for another. He is carving my heart to be more like his, and the more parts he shaves off the more painful it is but the further He gets in completing the good work which he has started in me.
I've made progress. I'm making changes to better serve my children. And God is working on the parts of me that only He can change. All I know is I want to be filled with the JOY of mothering and I want to rejoice over my children and be filled with compassion and love for them in a new way!