Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sometimes I act like a five-year-old myself.


I’ve had a few frustrating days recently. Pull-out-your-hair-and-scream kind of frustrating. No joke.
We all have colds. We’re sick of being sick. We’re tired. Our patience is wearing thin. 
Photo by April Roskos
And then Camilla pulled something on Sunday that she’s never done for anyone but her parents. The Sunday School teacher asked one of us to come take care of our daughter. I let Todd investigate. When he reached the classroom, Camilla had retreated under the table and was screaming at the top of her lungs. From my seat in the adult Sunday School class, I heard her go screaming down the hallway in his arms.
Someday she will kill me for telling this story on my blog. 
But that was not the frustrating moment. It came later, when making her apologize for her behavior was like trying to pull out that new adult tooth growing in her mouth. And even later, when we had to leave her so we could go to Roger’s viewing and she prolonged our departure by half an hour with fits of screaming and crying and “I want you, Mommy!” By the time I extricated myself from her vice-like arms and legs, one part of me wanted to run away and never come back. The other part felt so guilty and confused that I burst into tears on the way to the viewing.
When we got home an hour later, she was perfectly happy. Until I asked her to do something she didn’t want to do. Then it started all over again.
Monday was better . . . for a while. Around 5 o’clock, however, she started crying and whining about something. I could not get her to settle down and talk calmly with me so I decided to grab her and hug her, hoping to diffuse the situation. It backfired. 
She screamed, “You’re hurting me! Ow! Let me go! My neck!”
I finally put her down and stalked to the other end of the house, angry and hurt.
Real mature, I know.
My boy then climbed into my lap and gave me a kiss. I felt more guilty than ever.
I don’t love him more, I promise!
But at that moment I did not know how to love my daughter.
Then I heard her voice outside my bedroom door.
“Mommy, I’m sorry . . . but you were hurting me.”

I sat for a few moments thinking hopeless thoughts—that our home was awful and I was a mess and my daughter was beyond my reach at a mere five years old.

Then I heard a small whisper in my heart.
She came and said she was sorry. Nobody told her to do that.

I went back to where Camilla was playing.
“I was just trying to give you a hug,” I said.
“I don’t like big bear hugs. They hurt me.”
“But I love you. I want to hug you.”
“I love you, too. You can just hug me gently.”
So I gathered her gently in my arms and more tears fell.
Tears of relief and gratitude.
I love her still.
Photo by April Roskos
I feel compelled to ask that if you are going to comment by telling me that I need to be more strict or follow a particular parenting philosophy, please restrain yourself. You have never parented my daughter. And you never will. Stories of encouragement or similar frustration are welcome, however!

12 comments:

  1. You're a good mom! We all have those moments or even days. Sending hugs your way!

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    1. Alison,

      I rarely find the time to read your blog but by happenstance, here I am. Since, we both have 5 year old daughters, I can relate. I am often heartbroken or saddened when I try to comfort or even reprimand Laila and her response is very similar...all of a sudden you have a child that is screaming, kicking and saying things that hurt your feelings. You try to gently make things better and they fly out of your control. You feel like there is nothing that can made things worse...you are defeated, then all of a sudden as fast as things started... things are better and your daughter is saying things that make you smile. That is the joy of motherhood:). I read something on someone's Facebook page recently that really made sense. Keep it in mind. When you are an infant you want your Mom all the time, when you are a teen you want to be as far away from your Mom as you can be, when you are an young adult you want to be a Mom, when you are middle age you want to be like your Mom, and when you get old you wish your Mom was around all the time. Motherhood is a gift from God. He will always give you the wisdom to do the right thing, even when we do not think it is so.

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    2. Claudia, thanks so much for the encouraging words. Maybe it's something about girls born towards the end of 2006 . . . ? I will keep those words in mind. Sometimes it seems like the teenage years are already here!

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  2. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world! I just called Ariana yesterday in tears asking her how she finds the patience that she has, because it is frustrating and heartbreaking sometimes. It's like these littles can hurt us soo much more easily and more deeply because we love them so completely, they are a part of us. Just keep on keeping on, you are an amazing mother and Camilla is such an amazing young lady.

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    1. It is the hardest job! So far it's worth it, though. I'm sure we will have many more tears and smiles to make up for them over the coming years. You are a great mom, too. (I'm sure your sister told you that, right?)

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  3. Recently, Claire (almost 4 - can you believe it!) has said that she doesn't like kisses. If I give her a kiss, she will wipe it off and yell, "Don't kiss me! I don't like kisses!" And I would proceed to kiss her cheek anyway, despite her objections. Then I took this training called "Darkness to Light" and it was a program on how to prevent childhood sexual abuse. One thing they stressed in the training (and I hope you don't feel like I'm telling you how to parent) was that in our relationships with our kids, they must be allowed to tell us no when it comes to their bodies. If I force my kisses on Claire, I am teaching her that she doesn't have a voice. Or, that when she uses it, she shouldn't expect it to be heard. So I have stopped kissing her. And it breaks my heart. Every night, I ask her if I can give her a kiss goodnight and the majority of nights she says no. So I've had to find other ways to show her I love her while respecting her boundaries.

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    1. Hi Peg! Wow, I would have a hard time with that, too. I don't mind suggestions like this and it's actually something I agree with for the most part. I think we do practice that, although I'll have to be more aware now. I think some kids could use withholding affection as manipulation. This is totally Camilla's personality, but thankfully she hasn't done that to me. Though she's less cuddly than Adrian, the only time she hasn't wanted a hug or something is during situations like the one in the post. I definitely try to respect kids' boundaries, even though it's hard to remember that they need this too.

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  4. I have been there with my girls so many, many times. Even the, "I'm going to try hugging her until she settles down" resulting in screams of "you're hurting me!!!!" It's hard isn't it? And the way self-condemnation rushes in is just terrible. How incredible though that in all of that frustration you could step back and realize that one tiny thing that you could build a bridge with.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Val. It is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. So thankful for God's guidance and trusting Him to make up for what I lack!

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  5. Getting caught up on your blog and love this story! We all have those days, but yours had such a sweet and loving ending. :)

    Don't feel like signing in...it's Kristina.

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    1. Thanks, Kristina! We ought to talk more often. Muah!

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