From the first moment I became a mom, I poured my entire being into loving and caring for my baby.
Even though I really didn’t know what that looked like, God has an amazing design. Most of it came naturally. I cuddled, kissed, soothed, and sang to him. I knew when he was hungry and when he needed to burp. In those first few months and even years, my little baby poured love on me as well. He was so dependent on me, so really he didn’t have a choice. Mommy was everything.
Now that baby is seven. His dad and I have done our best to teach him how do things on his own and not expect so much from me. He has his chores and sometimes he has to make his own meals. But sometimes there is an ungrateful attitude that rears its ugly head. Sometimes the rolling of his eyes tears at my heart and brings a new sorrow I’ve never felt before. (I thought eye rolling was a teenage thing.)
These days it’s more difficult to see love in his actions.
Now he is saying, “I don’t want this,” “I don’t like that,” and Is this all I get?” Many times, when I ask him to do something very simple, I receive a huge sigh like I just ruined his day. A couple weeks ago I went to a weekend conference. When I got home, I greeted my son and tried to kiss him on the cheek. He said, “Ewww, gross, Mom!”
Ewww, gross, Mom! What is going on?
Where is my sweet little boy who used to snuggle with me? Where is the toddler who used to follow me around like a shadow never wanting to be without me? Where did this rude, ungrateful, and unaffectionate child come from? Well, that is probably taking it too far. I know he is a fantastic young man. That is just how I felt when he pushed me away. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t tear up about it later that night. Sigh…
As I’ve thought this through, I understand he is growing up and starting to use that free will and unique mind on his own. And just because he is testing the boundaries, doesn’t mean I need to take all hands off and let him go. He needs to see love exemplified and he needs to be taught respect and gratitude. I need to learn a few things as well. My complete source of love is not my son. I cannot depend on him to fill my emotional cup with love. I cannot dictate how he is going to respond to everything that comes his way. I can only teach him the best way and pray he makes good choices. When he fails, I need to be there to help him get back up again. I cannot allow my hurt feelings to alienate him and make him feel like I’m not going to still love him.
I came up with a plan.
The day after the “ewww, gross” statement, I talked it through with him. I told him I understood that he was getting bigger and he didn’t really like getting lots of hugs and kisses from mommy anymore. We compromised. I told him that if he gave me one big hug and let me kiss him once on the cheek before bed, I would not smother him throughout the day. He took the deal. I was expecting him to still resist our once-a-day display of affection. I didn’t set my hopes up too high. However, the most amazing thing happened. Over the next few days, he became the one to not want to let go when we hugged good night. He would ask me for another hug and then another. I still honor our agreement and do not force hugs throughout the day. By the end of the day, he is searching me out for the affection. He didn’t realize how much he needs and wants it. Boy, was I ever relieved! I couldn’t imagine already being in the “gross mom” phase. I’m praying I still have a few more years of cuddles.
Day by day, I remind myself to let my children grow.
I’m so grateful for a Savior who doesn’t change. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. As my kids change with the seasons, I can rest in His consistency. Their affection may change for me and that is perfectly healthy. Jesus remains the same. What a blessing!
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)