“Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself.” Jean Anouilh
After 15 years as a mother, the reasons why I think it’s so important to be there for my kids are not what you would think. I hear and read, “I want to be there for their first steps. Or their first word. To see all the milestones.”
That sounds all nice, warm and fuzzy, but to tell you the truth, I can’t remember any of those. (I’m sure it’s marked in baby books somewhere. I do know the last two took their first steps to Grandma and Dad respectively. Traitors.)
The times when I have been so thankful that I was able to be there for my kids are quite different. I remember one time especially. Due to the graphic nature of this paragraph, no names will be mentioned.
I had a sweet little guy, maybe three at the time, who very suddenly had a terrible stomachache. He was a shy one, very private and modest, but I quickly gave my advice: sit on the toilet and things might get better. But they didn’t. They got worse - much worse. He started crying and I rushed in to sit with him. Soon he was in a serious panic. Typically a calm, good-natured boy, this was quite out of character for him. He was hysterical and in incredible pain. Things were stopped up. Coming out, but stuck. Get the picture? My heart was beating fast and I was trying to squash my panic down as we all do when our children are in pain. He needed help, and quick. So I helped. Do you get it? It wasn’t pretty. It was stressful and one of those moments when you think, “Did I ever think I was going to be doing this?”
He was sore and crying, but very sweet and tender. He sat on our couch wrapped in a warm blanket for a couple of hours with a snack and a little movie. And then I seriously cried. I felt so sorry for him! The next place my mind went was to all the little guys who have had something like this happen to them, but they didn’t have their moms around to do these sorts of things for them.
This last week has been another time when I thought, “Thank God it’s me.” Patrick has been so difficult. He’s normally such a sweet, happy fellow, but last week he wanted me to carry his thirty pound body around almost every minute. I don’t know if it was his teeth, the kids being gone at school, or just a new little stage, but it’s not easy to lug him around! And if he happened to be settled and busy, it just meant he was up to no good. He would find a pen or a pencil laying around, or stand on his tippy toes and fish one out of the drawer, and write all over everything before I had a chance to stop him. (My walls are his canvas!)
He’s also hurt me, physically, ten times this week. Slammed a door shut on my ankle, gave me serious love bites, head butted me – the kind that makes your teeth click! (All on accident of course.) He smooshed my lipstick, dumped out bags of cereal, crinkled my new magazine, ran his stroller into my ankles. When we went on walks, they were as far from enjoyable as you could get. He was up and down other people’s driveways, in the street constantly, in and out of the stroller every minute, mad as heck when he didn’t get his way, and whining like crazy.
Do you get the picture? He tested every ounce of my patience. He was very unlikeable, but because I love him I could handle it. If it had been anybody else, they would seriously dislike this usually sweet, good-natured boy. No doubt in my mind.
These are the real reasons I’m glad I can always be there for my kids. The little things like bouts of colic, annoying stages, private bathroom dilemmas, runny noses, bad days (or weeks). The hard stuff. The “no fun” stuff.
I want to be the one that takes care of all those things. I trust myself. I’m his mother. Who loves him more? I love never having to doubt he’s getting the best care every day no matter how impossible he’s being. I don’t think anyone can do it better than me. I’m not conceited, bragging, or full of myself. I just know that my husband and I love these kids more than anyone else on earth.
When I say love, I don’t mean the typical meaning that comes to mind.
I mean love, the hard way.
QUESTION: How do you love “the hard way”?
CHALLENGE: If you’ve had experiences loving “the hard way”, take a minute to write some of them down.