This morning on our way home from the gym my five year old decided to have a really horrible attitude. It began as soon as he got into the truck and worsened with each fastening seatbelt. Each click making the doom and gloom inescapable.
One sad choice followed by another sad action followed by lots of sad words. I did what I could; before I even pulled out of the parking lot he had lost his water and toy. That's when the hurtful words began. "I don't have you guys in my heart anymore." God please give me wisdom. I never know what to do when he says this; nothing I am doing is working please help.
I have told him before that my love can never be taken away from him, it is a forever. My love. I’ve said always, 'I will always love you. I will always love you.' Still he is fickle with his words about love.
In the car stopped at a light, unsure of what to do (Please God give me wisdom) I tell him his words are hurtful to both me and his sister. His sister then generously hands him a batman that she's playing with exclaiming, "Me give Nathan Batman, me nice, me nice, me share." She is obviously more forgiving than I. Perhaps trying to stay on my good side.
Nathan then replies, "Gabi you are back in my heart." Love isn't something earned or purchased with gifts. Some giggles begin and I was about to let the whole thing go as I accelerated the car to the speed limit eager to get home, out of my sweaty clothes and showered. Thankful for deoderant.
More sad words and his consequence is handing over batman to me. Please God give me wisdom, I'm not being an effective parent and I can feel it. You have to give me the wisdom; I can't find it on my own.
Batman snuggled in my purse I hear his voice begin timid growing more intense with each word, "Mommy, you are not in my heart and I do NOT love you AND I want to go live with another family."
Really. I pause (for a long time I pause) eventually to calmly reply, almost comatose, "You hurt my feelings and I'm not going to be able to talk right now." Can the light turn green so we can make the next few turns and be home already?
Wisdom Lord, where is the wisdom, please, I am begging. He starts to talk and I actually tune him out. I turn into the driveway and pull into the garage.
Can I leave him buckled in his car seat until he has a change of heart? As I get out of the driver's door, I open my daughter's door greeting her with a cheerful smile. Unclicking and hugging her as I turn to my much loved son politely saying, "I will give you five minutes here, and then if your heart is grateful and happy and loving I will unbuckle you." Guess there is a perk that his car seat is difficult to unbuckle after all.
I shut the door not wanting to hear any response. Because I love him. Because God loves him and created him to be a special little boy. Because he cannot treat the woman who's done everything for him for nearly five and a half years this way, I am a great Mom.
Soap bubbles scrub tiny fingers (though not so tiny as they once were) and then long fingers. "Dry, dry, dry" we sing. Peanut butter and raspberry jam is smeared on the last few slices of bread. Triangles are his favorite. Sitting my daughter on a stool, I place two triangles in front of her and two in front of the empty stool next to her. We pray. I kiss her head telling her mommy will be right back.
It is time; I have to do this right. I am a fabulous Mom, he is a fabulous boy. God please let me say the words that will mean something to him please let me speak to his heart. Feet reluctantly stepping back out to the garage and around to his side of the truck. Deep breath, fighting back welling tears.
I open his door, look him in the eye, it's no use fighting and a lone tear slowly slides down my cheek. "Hi. Are you ready to be grateful and happy?"
He looks at me and looking away again responds with a defeated, "yes."
Again finding his eyes I say delicately, "You told me you didn't love me" –pause- "and that hurt my feelings and makes me sad." Tears are racing down now and my eyes close for a second to try to compose myself. A cold little hand touches my left cheek and then another on my right. My eyes open and we hug repairing the hurt between us.
"Your words have power and meaning. Words can hurt. Words should not be chosen for hurting but for loving. I love you and I love the special place you have in our family. You are a special boy and God gave you to our family. We love you very much and thank God for you."
"I love you Mommy."
A sparkle came back to his eyes that I hadn't seen in awhile so I continued, "You are a gift from God and I do my best (so far from perfect) but I don't think I've been telling you lately how special you are to me and what a special place you have in my heart. In this family, you are the one who keeps us laughing and playing, you are the one who makes us belly laugh and smile and you are the one who loves, giggles, cries, teaches, yells and sings. You are special to me."
I don't remember much of the rest of the conversation as we headed back into the house. I used to be a yeller, get angry and use my emotions and words as a sword but now, with God to help me maybe I can breath, talk, remain calm, shed a tear and maybe, just maybe break the cycle of anger. Because my kids, they deserve to be lifted up.
Words can be like little pins poking just under the surface of our skin. Where our self-confidence meets our insecurities they travel, each letter of every word reaching further in threatening our very heart.
The world hurts us, thicker skin, remember for next time, and don’t let those letters in so deep. Don't feel so much pain, don't let them past this part, make it tougher. It is easy to become hardened by the world sometimes by those in the world closest to us. They are the ones we hurt the most because we know just where to send those pointy words, just where to shoot the letters to get in.
I'm hoping that God can make my skin softer for my family. A thick skin toward the world and its harsh opinions can be a good thing, but for my family I am asking to be softer, gentler keeping strong as mother, wife and woman. Softer and open so I can feel the effects of both my words and those of the ones I love. All the way into my heart.
Back At It
1 day ago