22 June 2009

Mom Goes Nutso

I have one (at least one) of those kids that just makes you crazy; makes you question everything about yourself. Two things happened today that illustrate this:

1. I was peeling a carrot for my three-year-old, Lily (aka Cactus Flower). I missed a stroke and said "Whew! I nearly peeled my finger there! That was a close one!" and my daughter sucked in her breath real hard and said "Watch out mom! I don't want you to cut your finger!" And my heart swelled up with this unusual display of love. I should have left it at that, but no, I said "Do you love mommy?" "No."

2. I told everyone to get into pajamas and pick up their bedroom floors. After a few minutes, nothing was done, so I announced "No ice cream then!" and had to explain that no announcement was necessary to reward people; I shouldn't have to pay my children to obey; that I could just reward them for listening. Then Lily (aka Cactus Flower) came into my room and while I helped her get pajamas on, she explained how she was a listener and how I said put on pajamas and how that's what she was doing, and how she should get ice cream. So I said, "Yes, you are a listener, you may have ice cream." And I carried this prickly pear into the kitchen, we determined by taste-test if she would prefer strawberry or mint, and then gave her a big spoonful and put the lid on and put it back in the fridge. (a spoonful of ice cream is standard portion for us when we just want a taste or no bowls are clean- this wasn't a strange thing) Then, instead of "Thanks, mom, so glad I was the only one to get ice cream, what a nice moment we shared there on the counter" there was a 20-minute melt down (pardon the pun)... screaming, clutching door jambs, clenching teeth, bucking... the whole nine yards.

CJ Mahaney says in his book Humility: True Greatness "...if you're a parent, be assured that parenting is something God has called you to and that He has personally assigned your children to you both for their good and for your sanctification." Well, gee, thanks! I think on days/nights like this.

Lily make me question myself- makes me question my abilities- make me doubt myself and my motives. I am constantly assessing if I am reacting to Lily or to what I think Lily will do. Am I seeing her actions, or am I coloring them to match her past actions? As I see those things listed in front of me in type, they don't look like bad things. They look like careful and good things. But in the moment, in the evening sometimes, when she is crying and I don't go try and fail to comfort her -again!- I think that they are the mark of a bad parent. Why don't I do this constant assessing and guilt-carrying with the other three? Is there any hope for our future? I think of hormones and the frustrations of the next 15 years and if what I've seen for the past 2 years with this little girl is a harbinger, I may run screaming into the street!