June 24, 2010

maybe this is why God let me have children

Some nights I look back over my days with a great deal of shame.  Let's take, for instance, Tuesday.  Most of the day went really well:  play group, folded laundry, dishes done, visited with Mom, talked to some friends on the phone.  And then during nap time both of my kids were sleeping and this was exactly what I wanted.  Some quiet time to myself to check my email without Ben or L grabbing at the laptop, or my leg, or my arm, or my hair.  To sit without anyone on my person.  Ahhhh..

And then L woke up.  I held her so she'd go back to sleep but then she wouldn't let me put her down.  Every time I tried to lay her back down she'd cry and cry and cling to me.  This drove me over the edge and I yelled at her to go to sleep and leave me alone.

She then gave me that look.  The one where she's afraid and sad and confused, and she just wants her mommy to hold her, but her mommy is the one making her feel that way.  So she just cries a little harder.  Hopefully you don't know what I'm talking about.

It is the worst feeling I have experienced. 

And then I am reminded of what another mom shared once.  She told the story of snapping at her son one day in the car.  Her son began to cry and said, "Don't yell at me, Mommy.  It hurts my feelings."

She then said, "My mother has her defense mechanisms; my husband has learned to protect himself against my words and moods, but my son has nothing.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe this is why God has let me have the one son I have - so I can see how I really treat people."

I have thought about that comment so many times over the months since she first shared it.  I don't freak out at everyone the way I do my kids, but I do loose my patience, jump to conclusions, make snap (usually harsh) judgements, grumble, and become easily frustrated.  Often I find myself wanting to walk away from people who are annoying or frustrating me because I just don't want to take the time to see their side, understand their point, show a little compassion and mercy.  It is very similar to me yelling at my child to "just leave me alone."

In all of these interactions with people I know that it is not only from them that I am withholding charity, but Christ Himself.  The Judgement of the Nations in Matthew 25 is very powerful for me, and I know that many times I am a goat instead of a sheep.  Goats go to Hell - but not this one.  I've still got some filing down to do on my horns, but I fully intend to not spend an eternity away from my God.

"God will give you for eternity what you love the most.  If it's Him, you go to Heaven."  Fr. Larry Richards

I believe that in my vocation of motherhood God is asking me to love Him in a special way through my kids.  So sometimes that just might mean sacrificing my body and personal space to snuggle with a napping girl who craves my presence when I just don't want to.

I'd like to thank my friend, J, for giving me permission to retell her story.


  1. What a wonderful post. So glad I found your blog today!

  2. I really like this Bonnie. It speaks to my heart more than you know...

  3. Thanks for posting this. I actually read your blog frequently and find it thought-provoking, comforting, or anything else that meets my similar moods/feelings for the day or about the topic. This one really got me since I have had a rough day at my day care job. (I'm with 10 5 yr. olds and I'm the only teacher today.) Needless to say, I understand where you're coming from even though I don't have my own kids. You're a great mom and I really look up to you!

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Bonnie. I know that look, too - confusion and fear mingled together. It breaks my heart that I have caused that pain in my daughter. I resolve again and again to do better, to be better, with the Lord's help. Sometimes things go well and sometimes I selfishly choose my flesh over following after the Spirit. I pray time and time again that Hannah's memory of this will not stay with her and that God's sweet forgiveness will wash over my sin.

  5. Thank you for your continual posts about this subject. I realized this week how increasingly frustrated and short I've become with Avery recently, and I know it's not right. I've noticed how little patience I have with her these days, and it just makes me want to cry because she doesn't deserve that. Your posts have become an opportunity for me to sit down and reflect on my behavior so that I can only become a better mother. Thanks. :)

  6. i'm sorry to say that i know this look as well, and it is heart rending, humbling, and makes me feel so ashamed. i think every mother knows this look on her own dear child's face. part of growing and learning as a mother is to see that face and use it as a reminder to act better next time. also at our house the parents (especially me) do a fair amount of apologizing. i don't think there's anything wrong with realizing you could have reacted differently and then saying to your child that you are sorry and you snapped because you are tired (or whatever the case may be). it makes me feel better and my kids are at an age where they seem able to understand and accept my apology. i think it also helps them express their own feelings sometimes, like, "I think I hit my brother because I am feeling grumpy." i'm a big fan of emotional awareness, on the part of the parents and the kids. i think we cannot always avoid unpleasant outbursts, but we can help smooth things over with our words and our kind touch afterward.

  7. Maiasaura,
    I totally agree about the apologizing. I ALWAYS apologize to Lydia and Bennet when I lose my temper. The last time I got mad at Lydia I apologized and she looked me in the eye and said, "It's okay, Mommy." I felt even more humbled to so quickly receive pardon and love from my 2 year old.
    Also, I love that your boys can identify how their feelings and actions are related. Hopefully I'll follow in your footsteps and teach my kids to do the same.

  8. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

  9. oh Bonnie. this post hits home. I could have written it myself. One thing God has been teaching me lately is that I am to be servant-hearted with my kids. Especially in the Summer, I just want to them to go with MY agenda so I can get my work done and stay sane. BUT I am working on choosing to do FUN things with them despite all my housework and chores. Going to the pool takes all day by the time I do the prep and the clean-up but I have been trying to provide fun opportunities anyway and see it as a way to serve my children. I, too, am being refined by my children on a continual basis. God is so good in not letting me stay as I am and always pushing me to be a better Mama, wife, and child of God. You're a great Mama, Bonnie. So proud of the wonderful woman you have become and privileged that I get to watch it all via this blog. You are always an inspiration and a light.

  10. On the flip side, parenting also shows how loving and caring and selfless you are as well. It shows how you give up sleep, food, time, wants for the sake of someone else. How you can love someone so much and put them before yourself.
    So while, yes, at times, it is a mirror into the ugly parts of everyone, you also need to stop and look at the reflection during the time when the beauty of God is revealed. When you see God is in you through your love and care for these children without thought to your own regard.