We have one son, who is now 24, on his own, living the Army way. It wasn’t in my plan for him to be an only child, but that’s what happened. I’ve often said that God knew that it was going to take all my strength just to raise this one. I have to admit that while this is a sorrow of mine, when I look back, there are years that I don’t know that I could have successfully raised another one because the one I have was so all consuming.
I wanted this child, oh how I wanted him! And there were days I could have walked away….. oh, I say this half-heartedly. I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have EVER walked away from him. But I did entertain the dream!
I was one of those young women who scoffed and scorned parents whose children were out of control in the store or restaurant. “My child was NEVER going to do that!” And, for the most part, my son was great in stores and restaurants. (There was that one incident in the middle of the drug store that gave me all new insight on what you can control and what you can’t.) But my child made me pay in other ways, in ways that no one in my family understood, in ways that no one around me understood and in ways that I clearly didn’t understand.
Simple punishments did not work on him. We had locks on our TV’s so he wouldn’t spend his life in front of one. We couldn’t ground him long enough to get his attention (and we tried). The more we punished him, the more isolated he became. It was having the opposite effect.
His room was never clean. I learned to help him sweep through it a couple times a year to get the trash out of there and then I’d close the door.
I thought I’d be the fun mom of the neighborhood. I’m crafty and creative. I’d enjoyed fun gatherings when I was in high school. I thought my house would be the hangout house with the cool mom. Hah!
My son’s friends thought I was the toughest mother they’d ever been around. (This is in stark contrast to the adults who counselled me to quit being so easy on him) One of his friends actually told me that for years he didn’t understand it but then one day, he clearly got why I was so tough. My house occasionally had a kid or two in it but never the gang. This house just wasn’t the fun house.
Why do I share this with you? Because sometimes your plans don’t go the way you think they should and there isn’t an option of turning around.
I tell you this because if we can raise a kid who this day is responsible and plugged in and happy, you can, too.
So, in those moments when you are wondering what you were thinking wanting to have a sweet little munchkin take a deep breath. And then take another one. And take one more. Your job is not to raise a straight A student (although it is a plus) or the star gymnast. Your job is to raise a productive, responsible grown up. I encourage you to look up and look around and look to the future person your child is becoming. It’s really easy to get caught up in the small things that can ruin the enjoyment your own child.
And if you see a young woman giving you the stink eye because your child is misbehaving, smile at her and know that one day she’ll have clarity.
And if you see a young mother trying to deal with a child who is having an unholy meltdown, smile at her and give her an encouraging word.
And if you see me laughing at my son when he calls to tell me how rotten his (not yet conceived) children are — you’ll know that God smiled on me that day!!!