And Again

I was looking forward to tonight, because I knew I would have the chance to write again.  I planned to tell about the newly fallen snow, and the warm, cuddly times we’ve been having as a result.  I wanted to share the fun times with my kids, the adorable way Lil J “helps” me in the kitchen, the cuteness of William trying to do everything his brother does, and how they both could sit for an hour on my lap – or Daddy’s – reading book, after book, after book.  Or actually, just one book, over and over.  If there’s any variation, it’s because I can recite “Roadwork” in my sleep, backwards and in French, and I am sick of it 😛  But anyway….

That is what I WAS going to say.  And then dinner time happened.  My one year old (who is the sweetest thing when he gets his way) decided, suddenly and emphatically, that he does not like peas.  He has eaten peas.  Many times.  Cheerfully.  Begged for more.  But it’s been a week or two, and tonight, he decided it’s a no-go.  At first, I thought we would have a little battle – the kind we’ve been experiencing with more frequency as he tries to exert himself – but it was no such thing.  Thirty minutes of hysterical crying, spitting, gagging, choking and spoon-wacking on his part, thirty minutes of calm correction, insistence, and repetition punctuated by bursts of temper, yelling and desperate prayers on mine, and we were done.  I lost.  I lost twice,once because I never got him to swallow a single pea (aside from the ones he accidentally sucked into his lungs while sobbing), and again because I completely lost control of myself.  I yelled at my baby, snapped at my one year old, fought a strong desire to shake, smack or otherwise exert painful, unkind force on my stubborn child.  I was horrible.

Finally I realized that I needed to stop.  William was no longer the problem.  I was.  His peas were no longer the issue.  My flouted authority was.  It was my pride and will against his, and since I had already yielded to my own sin, I was in no place to correct his.  How do I expect to teach my little boys self control, when I lose my temper?

To be honest, I never struggled with temper until William was born.  I don’t know what changed then.  I would give anything to go back to the pre-temper self I used to enjoy, but it is what it is.  When William was a meager week old, I experienced my first bout of real anger, and it was terrifying.  I would like to blame it on hormones, but I’m pretty sure those have worn off by now, and I still face those crazy, flying off the handle, wish I could hurt somebody urges, and I hate, hate, HATE it.  I don’t know how to deal with it.  I don’t even know where to begin!

And so, my blog post about my wonderful life has turned into a sort of confession that I need more of a spanking than my kids ever have!  Does it matter than I canned spaghetti sauce from scratch today?  Or that I made my own stuffing mix, and cooked nutritious meals, and got the laundry done, and played with the kids?  Not really.  It matters that when things didn’t go my way, I threw a fit.  I am so ashamed.  I am thankful for a God and children who forgive, but I can’t get over the shame of myself.  I would give anything to go back and re-do those thirty minutes!

Yeah…

So… it’s one of those days.  I feel restless.  I struggle moment-by-moment not to snap at my children for little things like, oh, the two-year-old dawdle when he sees something super impressive – like, a person, or a street lamp – and pauses to tell me about it, halfway across the parking lot.  Meanwhile the one year old is catapulting himself out of my arms because he has an insatiable appetite for motion, and the diaper bag hangs heavy on my other shoulder, and I want to snap at both of them, and make them stop being so….little.  My Lil J keeps excitedly relating EVERYTHING to me, seemingly oblivious of my bad attitude.  I feel guilty for rejecting him, for wishing he would be more responsible and not knock his dinner off the table in the middle of his enthusiasm.  I know that this is my problem, not theirs. Even if they are misbehaving, it is my problem, because they are just little.  They don’t know better.  The only way for them to know better is for me to teach them, and these are all golden opportunities to do so.

What I really need, is to teach myself first.  How can I teach them self-control, when my whole day has been dictated by the emotions of the moment?

Times like these remind me why I had children.  It wasn’t for me.  I thought it was.  I thought it was because I wanted a sweet baby to cuddle, a baby who would smell good and love me more than anything in the universe and make me proud of him.  But children are more than that!  They are souls.  If I want them for their cuteness, for the pleasure I can get out of them, then my focus is wrong, and I will be sorely disappointed.  This is the kind of disappointment I think a lot of American Mommies face, because society helps us build these high expectations and encourages this self-focus.  But the only good reason to have children, is to have human beings.  Eternal beings.  Independent men and women who (we pray) put their faith in Christ and live an eternal life.

Today, I have been irritated because these sweet kids aren’t fitting into my plans.  They aren’t pleasing me.  They aren’t letting me chill with a cup of coffee and a book as I would like to do, because my head hurts and I want my way.  I think I have a new item on my list of things to do:

– Learn to love my children the right way, not the way I want to love them