Monday, September 3, 2007

On Motherhood and Exasperation

It began when he was three days old. I wanted him to nurse. He adamantly refused. I wanted what I thought was best for him. He wanted his own way. We have repeated the same battle, in different forms, for the last five years.

His defiance is straightforward, honest, and vocal. There is never any doubt as to what he wants. I admire him for that. He is not like his sisters, who nod and smile at me when asked to do something, and then do what they want when my back is turned. He stands up to me, tells me right away he is NOT going to do that. It would be refreshing, his honesty, if it wasn’t so maddening.

The other emotions he expresses are just as honest. He loves wholeheartedly, he gives affection and verbal affirmation freely. He wants to take care of his sisters, and he wants to be my helper. Countless times, I’ll be busy with some unimportant task and he will walk by me, turn with a smile, and say, “I wuv you, Mommy.” He holds my heart captive, that boy.

Every time we have another battle of wills, whether it is over cleaning his room or just getting dressed in the morning, I feel a familiar fear welling up in my chest. I fear that I am failing him. I fear that he will only remember this angry Mommy, the one who yells and then apologizes, only to yell again five minutes later.

I fear that he will have to learn all of his lessons in life the hard way.

That is the scariest part. I know there is a bigger picture here, a wide, uncertain world that he will eventually have to navigate, and I want to prepare him for it. I want him to learn wisdom. I want him to respect authority. I want him to be obedient to God. I want good things for him, and he keeps dragging his feet in protest.

There are moments, fewer than I would like, that I see a break in that shield of defiance. His heart softens, and sorrow flows. Every now and then, I see that lesson carry over into the next situation, a glimmer of understanding sinking in. There are times when he obeys the first time with a smile, and basks in my exclamations of praise.

Thinking back to his first few days of life, I remember sitting in the lactation consultant’s office in tears, asking her what I was doing wrong.

“You’ve done this before, but he has never learned how to do it,” she reassured me. “Just keep teaching him how, and he’ll get it”.

And I’m still following that advice.


  1. This was beautifully written.

    Parenting Ben has been a lesson in grace and humility. I think I actually thought I was pretty good at this parenting thing before he came along. God must have been up there chuckling at what he had in store for me. Now, I never judge another parent for an out of control child. In my head I just think, Oh my. Maybe she has a "Ben"

    I think that all you can do is what you are doing. Keep fighting the fight. Pray for wisdom and patience. Because I am sure that more is sinking in that you know. And remember to forgive yourself when you have less than stellar parenting moments. It happens.

    (By the way, if you would like to join us over as an author at Worst Mama Ever, we would love to have you. Not that I am saying you are, but it's a great and comedic place for support.)

  2. Wendy said you were funny. I am sure that you are, but this is very moving. You are a wonderful writer.

  3. Joy, thanks for the encouragement. As for Worst Mama Ever, I could easily school all of you.

  4. this is beautiful post. so eloquent. it totally had my heart all the way.

    that boy sounds wonderful. keep holding his hand and leading in the right direction.

  5. Oh Chrissy - I so know that fear. It's so nice to hear that I'm not the only one who experiences it.


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