Letting your children grow up “wild and free” is sort of the thing right now. I see it everywhere–the arrows and floral crowns and woodland creatures that stir up ideas of adventure and nature.
I loved this concept when I was expecting my son. I decorated his room in woodsy animals and inspirational quotes by Emerson and Thoreau. I dreamt of days spent outside exploring with him at my side; we would be wild things for sure, he and I.
I can’t help but smile as I tap out these words. I got a wild one all right–no extra outdoor adventures required. He stirs up danger and excitement wherever he goes, however padded and sedate the environment may be. Yesterday, he got the third cast in six weeks put on his arm (almost a year to the day from when he was getting a cast for a broken leg). What a whirlwind of life this little guy has already been at two and a half years old.
I love him and I love the wildness that makes up who he is. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say too how much I’ve struggled with his strength, fiery temper, and will. He is tough. Tough in all the best ways and tough in ways that will wear you down and make you question why you ever decided to be a mother too.
I reached a breaking point with him not long ago. I had gotten to a place where I couldn’t control him–physically or otherwise. I was afraid to leave the house with him and every time I did, I’d recall and dread very loud, very public temper tantrums which required every ounce of my person to get him under control.
These last two years have been humbling–even humiliating at times. I have been that mom in the grocery store with the toddler screaming and freaking out. I have felt eyes on me and judgment passed and my goodness, for being someone who doesn’t generally care what other people think of me, that has been hard. It’s hard feeling like a failure every time you leave the house for milk and apple juice but that’s been life for a good bit now.
A couple of months back my husband and I sat on the couch talking about our son. It had been a really hard day with him and I was starting to realize if we didn’t get him under control soon, he was going to be too much for me to physically manage. I’m expecting baby #2 and it isn’t reasonable to be wrangling a kicking, screaming toddler when you’ve got another baby you’re trying to protect too.
I was ready to quit and I told Darren so. I had reached a breaking point where I knew something had to change because we simply couldn’t move forward with things as they were. But how…
We aren’t parents who simply let our child do whatever he wishes; we’re quite firm with him–and that made knowing what to do next all the more frustrating. Where do you go from here when you’re already staying home with your child full-time, working with him, teaching and correcting him around the clock? It wasn’t for lack of intense investment and trying that we ended up where we were.
I can tell you how we got here though–Roman is just like us. I know someone else with a temper and will for the ages–guilty.
I never imagined the answer to all this heartache and frustration would simply (though not easily) be to change myself, rather than my son, first. It turns out that if I don’t lose my temper with him, he generally doesn’t lose his temper with me either. If I’m not grumpy and begrudging, neither is he (most of the time). While I knew I was setting an example for my son, I didn’t realize I was setting the tone for our whole home and experience together. But as I have learned to control myself–my anger, my frustration, my hurried way of getting things done at the expense of others–my son has transformed before my eyes as well. I needed to slow down and win his heart first, even at two years old.
Though I regret the time we spent battling each other in anger, these days of learning to love and enjoy a relationship with him are certainly all the sweeter. There is redemption in this bumpy story of motherhood. There is hope when you feel hopeless. There is wisdom and direction when you are completely lost and at a loss. I know–I’ve seen the bottom and I’ve seen things turn around too. I have hated being a mother–truly hated and regretted it. But I’m learning to love motherhood now as God changes and grows me into this hard, demanding, and incredible role he’s called me to.
There are still humbling days in the grocery store but I no longer live my life as a mother with dread. I see hope and transformation and I know, by God’s grace, we’ll find our way through as he enables.
I got my wild one, all right. He’s every ounce of adventure and excitement I think I can handle but I wouldn’t change his spirit or energy for a simpler life (or fewer trips to the ER). However, if baby #2 wants to be a nice, quiet little girl–that will be fine too 😉