“Mommy, you’re mean.”
He said, today, in the bathroom.
I’m sure that moment comes in most mothers’ relationships with their sons, at some point.
Thing is, this particular time, he was probably at least partly, and actually possibly mostly*……
I do stuff just about every day where as soon as I do or say it, I look down at my 3-foot-tall, chubby-kneed compatriot and think “Well, that was a terrible way to handle that.”
Sometimes I think back to when he first came, and we were basically (emotionally-speaking) kind of like on one of those canvas army cot thingies that people are always on in movies with like limbs missing and dirt stuck everywhere and grody bandages that you’re like “really wouldn’t you probably just be better off without that?” And so was he, and we were trying to care for him and he was trying to figure us out, and I’ve gone over this before and I won’t go over it again. I’ll just say that I don’t know if I would have this perspective anyway, or if it’s because our first months together were just a little bit of PTSD… together. He did not get the most amazing deal on the planet, not really, not at first. But I do tend to look at our little dude sometimes and be like “Man, I hope he can forgive me.”
I hope I’d have that perspective in any situation, with any kid, because no matter what I wouldn’t do it all right. And in some ways I’m glad I was a hot mess at the beginning because it probably taught me some humility that I lacked before.
Super secret: You don’t do it all right either.
Dane and I met a guy at a party once that I hope isn’t reading this because he’ll probably recognize himself, but that’s unlikely.
Anyway, this guy had a wife and 3 kids there and sort of strong-armed Dane into a conversation (that I managed to weasel out of because dude was assertive and I had the handy excuse at the time of a hungry infant). I was there for the beginning part of “how do you know the [hosts],” “What do you do,” “How’d you meet your wife,” etc. (during which part he mentioned in some context that he had met his wife at church, but she had gone to lots of churches and had been a “church slut.” Charming guy, this one.)
Anyway, he was pretty eager to share his Personal Life Philosophy and kind of charged ahead in a (probably-quite-rehearsed) party conversation version of it, which started out by asking point blank if we were “really” believers or sort of “playing the part” believers. Then no matter what we answered he was basically like “no but REALLY,” and eventually we got to the part where his belief was essentially that if you are really a Christian, and if you really understand the gospel, you can (and should) be actually completely free from sin. As in, you don’t do it any more.
And he claimed that he, himself, had been free from sin for 3 years.
Like, had not done anything wrong, at all, for 3 years. Not that he was forgiven of stuff, but that he could live perfectly.
I was in and out but asked at one point why, then, did people like, oh I don’t know, Paul (as in “I-wrote-most-of-the-New-Testament” Paul), or like… Mother Teresa, why did they keep talking all the time about how they still struggled with stuff? And he essentially alluded to the idea that maybe they didn’t actually understand the gospel. At least not as well as this dude did.
Dane looked for every polite way to eke out of that conversation that he could find, and offered up some pretty solid rebutting ideas, which were each shot down with pre-packaged and vacuum-sealed retorts, until eventually Dane just said “Look, I don’t know about all this, I just know that you lost me when you called your wife a slut,” and walked away.
In going over the conversation later, I was mostly thinking that I saw his sweet baby/toddler/preschool children, and I talked to his very warm and kind of overwhelmed-seeming wife, and the idea of a father of those children and a husband of that wife, considering himself head of that family, and believing he is infallible….. that is terrifying. You see that nonsense on horror movies, not usually in real life.**
Some people don’t think that consciously, and wouldn’t tell people that they are currently completely perfect, but they kinda act like it anyway. Look – I know a LOT (lot [LOT]) more about the world than my child does. And I will teach and discipline him, and I will expect him to listen to me because it is my job (I was actually trained, licensed, tasked, and legally ordered by the State of Texas) to keep him safe and healthy, and to teach him how to not be a jerk to people.
But. All this to say. I am a mean mommy, sometimes. Sometimes I am a strict mommy and my discipline is for his good. Sometimes I lose my temper or expect things that are too much from him. I hope he will forgive me, and I mostly hope that I will never stop being able to ask for his forgiveness (which yes, I do sometimes, even now at 2 1/2).
I mess up.
You mess up.
If you don’t think you do, you probably SUPER do.
But think about it, and respect your kids enough to own up to it when you do. I think it might help them respect you back.
*Yes, editors/editrices and other individuals embittered by my constant grammatical know-it-all-ishness, that is a lot of adverbs. Call it artistic liberty. It’s like Picasso said: If you really know the rules SUPER well, it is then practically a sign of genius to creatively break them. Muah ha ha ha. (Now is the part where someone points out a totally not-on-purpose NOR artistic flagrant embarrassing typo/goof I made, because pride goeth etc.)
**Plus also, I’d be like “please please please can you not talk to people, at all, outside of the church because hopefully the church people can be like ‘dude what is UP with you’ but the outside-of-church people will just think we are all completely nuts.”