Some days stretch on forever and it's all I can do to keep my cool until his bedtime.
Supper time is a nightmare. He's tired, I'm tired and hungry, and the men stressed from long days at work. It's not a good time some evenings. Somedays when I go to bed I fight back the tears, doubt, and guilt. I tell my husband that all I ever say to Stomper is "No." I tell him I feel like a horrible mother. I tell him I feel like a monster. He assures me time and time again that I'm a good mother. Some days I believe him.
In bed I rewind the day and review each "No." I question myself. Was there a better way to say that, to do that, to help him? Am I not involved enough, too much, do I keep him too busy? Is his temperament my fault, am I ruining him?
On one of our rough days in the last few weeks Jason came home and could tell I was at the end of my rope. He suggested a walk outside. Stomper screamed non-sense at us. We forced the little guy outside. He fought getting shoes on. He screamed. He cried when we took him outside. He screamed some more. I gave him an apple, he told me it was yucky. Then he ate it.
We went for a walk he screamed at us around bites of apple.
Then slowly the apple disappeared into his belly. He hit stuff with a stick as Papa worked on clearing a path through the brambles. For a moment the sun came out and it felt like we were going to be all right.
Those nights when he passes out from exhaustion from fighting with me all day I try to remind myself that this is just a small moment in a long life. I tell myself while I review my day and consider what I could have done better, that I am doing my best.
And in the morning I work at remembering to use the tools I have learned:
- Love is patient (take a breath before redirecting unwanted behavior),
- Love is kind (no yelling, no name calling, let the "discipline fit the crime"),
- It does not want what belongs to others (when we are having a bad day don't compare him in my thoughts to other children, he is his own person, he learns differently, behaves differently, plays differently, and that is all right),
- It does not brag, It is not proud (sometimes even Mommy needs to say "I was wrong."),
- It is not rude (I watch my words and actions and behave appropriately, even when redirecting or disciplining him, when I am often at my weakest),
- It does not look out for its own interests (his needs are more important than mine, I need to look at things from his point-of-view more often),
- It does not easily become angry (get more sleep and this will be easier, spend more time with God and this will be easier, be less "busy" and this will be easier)
- It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs (his memory is short, mine should be shorter),
- Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken (praise him when he does something right!)
- It always protects (if he is not exposed to certain behaviors he will be less likely to act them out, if I am not exposed to certain attitudes I will be less likely to act them out),
- It always trusts. It always hopes.
- It never gives up (God hasn't given up on me, I won't give up on me either),
- Love never fails.
And I remember his smile, his hugs and kisses, how he loves me to sing to him every night, snuggling in bed and watching Elmo far too early in the morning, reading and rereading his favorite books, the sound of his voice when he is playing with his trains, his laughter when I tickle him, the funny way he jumps, his boundless energy:
Oh how I love this little boy that God sent us!
Someday I will look back on this rough time and know that the hard work was worth it. I will look back and wonder how I could have ever thought I was a bad mother.