Thursday, August 12, 2010

She Still Loves Me

If there is one thing about parenthood that never ceases to amaze me it is the love that my children have for me.

Everyday with Annabel is challenging for me. She is not a difficult child, but she is in a difficult stage, and I don't often feel that I have the tools necessary for dealing with the job. She is an ordinary 2-year-old... I don't think she's any different than most 2-year-olds. But being patient, gentle, kind and nurturing don't seem to come naturally to me. I struggle a lot with meeting the high expectations I have for myself as a mother. I certainly know what kind of mother I want to be, but it doesn't always play out that way. And I'm not easy on myself when it comes to my many shortcomings (and I guess I don't really feel like I should be, either).

By the end of the day, I find myself looking over the events of the day and weighing whether I feel like it was a success or not, kind of like weighing the good interactions with the bad. As long as there are more good, I sleep easy that night... but when the bad outweigh, well, that's when I'm the most critical of myself.

"Took Annabel to the park this morning and played tag with her. Check. Giggled about something nonsensical, check. Snuggled up and read lots of books while nursing the baby instead of making her play on her own. Check. Sat her in front of the tv so I could catch up on internet time. Fail. Didn't let her help with making supper because she was getting on my nerves. Fail. Said hurtful things in a harsh voice. Fail. Wasn't as gentle as I could (should) have been when making her stay away from her brother. Fail. Took her to the pool and continued teaching her to swim. Check. Punished her for something that didn't deserve punishment. Fail. Made her feel bad about trying to "help"- fail, fail, FAIL."

And yet at the end of the day, when we're all exhausted and at our most raw, it's me she's begging for. "I want mommy to put me to bed. I WANT MOMMMMMYYYYY!" For some reason unknown to me, I still satisfy a place in her and meet a need that no one else can, regardless of the way I've treated her that day. It is a very humbling knowledge. I don't deserve to be loved so unconditionally, and yet there it is. In her little 2-year-old eyes, I am her whole world. She sees herself through the lens of mommy and how mommy treats her. Eventually she will view God by the way she is treated by her parents.

I can not take this for granted. I know there will come a time when she will stop loving me unconditionally, and her love will be based on our relationship and how I make her feel about herself. And truly, that's the way it should be- it's not the job of the child to love the parent unconditionally. But it scares me to think that if I don't get myself together and do better at this, that one day we may not have the relationship I want.

One verse keeps coming back to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). And grace is for us mama's, too. But it is so hard.


Tera said...

You ARE a good mommy!! A bad mommy wouldn't care about all of the things you just poured your heart out about. I think that even though we make mistakes, our children realize we love them no matter what and only discipline them because we want them to have pure, loving, caring, giving, servant little hearts! I do have to apologize to my girls sometimes when I sin-- for not speaking kindly or for not being patient, etc. I think admitting our own inequities allows the child to realize not only that it's normal to have faults but also that we are ALL sinners in need of a Saviour! And the verse you shared is perfect! Discussing our weaknesses with our children is a perfect time to say, "I can only do this because He gives me strength!" You are a good mommy!!

lilmack3562 said...

I think about this ALL of the time, especially when I find myself at the end of a day home with the girls and where I may have gotten the house work and other "chores" done, I feel I've neglected the most important obligation, to be a good mom in the process. I often feel there is not enough time- or energy- in a day. Great post! It's good to hear others struggle with the same thoughts and emotions and to know we aren't alone, even when we think we are.

Jason and Lisa Jones said...

I have met bad moms and they aren't writing about this and they aren't worried about spending too much time on the computer or not playing with their kids... It is awesome to want to do better but there has to be a balance too so yo do not drive yourself crazy and then it is counterproductive to what you are trying to be a good mom!!! Kids are very forgiving and that is my favorite thing about Shannon... She is so forgiving... I have cried and asked her to forgive me before because I messed up or shouldn't have talked to her that way and she says it is ok Mommy we all make mistakes!!! So true... We can teach our kids through our mistakes about forgiveness and grace... When I grew up my parents were never wrong and never apologized... How humbling it is to ask your kids to forgive you, and maybe I am wrong but it helps our relationship because she will also ask for forgiveness when she does something wrong and is genuine about it. Thanks for the post. I really enjoy your blog and writing style and it is nice to know that this is something people struggle with.

Rock 'n Roll Momma© said...

i feel the same way at the end of the day...there are lots of days when i count too many fails and not enough good stuff, in my opinion. but unfortunately i'm usually the last one javen wants unless he has no choice when it's just me at home! if i come into his room in the morning instead of papa, he throws a fit and usually the whole morning is ruined because it puts him in a rotten mood to see me! i don't think anyone realizes how awful it makes me feel! but at least he has a dad who is involved enough that he could just do without his mom altogether and not be phased. some kids don't even have a choice of which parent they favor. i have a feeling ryann will be much closer to me because she's 100% breastfed so we have bonded more.