Raising my Tender Bully (aka: My need for God's Grace)

>> Friday, April 3, 2009

Today has been one of those days where I feel like I have no idea what I am doing in regards to motherhood. Lucas woke up at 5 and was up for good. Which meant all of us were up. I have been fighting a sinus infection and ear infection and one of the most horrible headaches of my life. Caden took a decent morning nap which gave Lucas and I some good time to play together. But, by 10:30 I was out of steam and the day was just getting going.

I'm sure it goes with the territory of having 2boys, or maybe just 2kids, but Lucas is just so rough with Caden. I seriously hear myself a hundred times a day telling Lucas "Be Gentle!" or "Don't throw things!" or "Do NOT kick your brother" or "Why did you just knock him over?" Sometimes it is overzealous affection. He loves to lay on top of him or hug him a little too vigorously. Other times, it is because Caden was simply looking at his cars or "in the way."
On days like today, I just can't deal. I get SO TIRED of correcting him. I do try to let them "be boys" and be a little rough and tumble. I can't police every moment and I know that is part of being brothers and being boys. I want them to be close and have fun together and I know that sometimes Lucas is really just trying to engage with Caden and he just doesn't know his own strength. But, that is not really the problem.
The real problem is me.

I have derailed this mommy-train somewhere along the line. I know that when I get frustrated with Lucas and even with Caden, I am not good at controlling my emotional outbursts. Caden is SO clingy. He wants to be physically touching me, climbing on me, held by me ALL the time. And sometimes even this babywearing, co-sleeping mama just reaches my limit. Lucas is SO whiny. He doesn't want to stop playing long enough to get dressed or go potty or come to a meal. So when I ask him, he whines and cries as if I am pulling out his toenails or something. And on days when I am overtired and not feeling 100%, my tolerance for these things is almost nill.
I see Lucas playing with his trains and he is so rough. Crashing and smashing them together with his voice raised and using words like "dominate" and other aggressive language. Part of that is being a little boy. I get that. But that can't be the whole story. He is rough with his toys, rough with his brother, with the dog, with his friends. He is just a rough little boy at times. And I don't know how we got here.

During this self-indulgent pitty-party, I start feeling frustrated that I am not able to keep it together. Lucas' whining and rough behavior just sends me to the edge of insanity. However, it is becoming more and more clear that much of this current issue is due to my own "roughness" and not so much his. I know that my lack of self-control when my children frustrate me or are naughty has rubbed off on my 3yr. old and I don't know how to un-do that.

The irony of this is, this bully is not my Lucas. He is a sweet, very tender kid who loves to be cuddled and read to. He chooses me over everyone. He talks about missing me when I am away, and missing his brother Micah whom he has never met. Last weekend Hubby told him that one of the gorillas at the zoo went to Heaven. Lucas got really sad and said through tears that he just wanted to go see that gorilla one more time. He had no idea what gorilla we were talking about he just knows the concept of missing someone/something and he gets very emotional about it. His heart is as big as they come and we have some of the tenderest moments together that a mother could ever hope for.
Days like today feel so out of control, like I am doing all I can to keep my head afloat. I am simply responding to life and not in any way able to direct it. I am putting out little fires instead of being able to focus on fire prevention. You know what I mean? I just sometimes feel like I have failed him.
I tell him constantly that I love him. That he gives the best bear hugs. That I cherish having him close to me. I kiss his head and comb his hair with my fingers. We talk about everything and I love to hear his stories that come out of his imagination-driven mind. I love the moments when he is being a little boy and not so under constraint. But yet, I yell WAY too much and am not always good at keeping him stimulated. Also, he's never slept well (neither really do), is resisting potty-training and gets so rowdy when bored. He is stubborn, oh-so stubborn. But most of these things seem to directly indicate some sort of mothering-insufficiency. We are very slowly making progress with potty training and have been cooped up in this house all winter. So maybe I am over-dramatizing this in my mind. I tend to do that too. The moments when it is just he and I or when he can be outside running free seem to be without this drama.

Hubby graciously took the boys out for an hour this afternoon so I could have a quiet house to hopefully quiet my soul and my headache a bit. Our day ended with Lucas and I laying on the floor together reading books before bed, his head resting sweetly on my chest. As I prayed for him and sang his "Jesus songs," he innocently turned to say "I love you Mommy."
I just pray that the moments I tell him I love him or that I am sorry for getting frustrated with him ring more loudly in his ears than my over-emotional behavior corrections. I hope that he will see my imperfections, my rough edges, and then see our need for God. I can't smooth out my own edges, much less my son's, without God's grace. I may fail him in other ways, but I hope that I can at least be a living example to him in that way.

Any advice on how to raise my tender bully without breaking his spirit, or mine?

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TwoSquareMeals April 4, 2009 at 8:02 AM  

Oh, I could say so much about this boy thing, dear. I think I am learning that the aggression and stubborness are NOT my fault. They are a natural part of boys developing. Yes, they may be inheriting some of my faults, but I can't beat myself up over every imperfect mothering moment. Grace. Grace. Grace.

Cherish the good moments. Realize that a boy growing up means a boy learning about his aggression and energy and learning to deal with it appropriately, not hide it, not even the aggressive language and play. And spend lots and lots of time outside whenever you can. Lots and lots of time. It is amazing how much better that makes my days!

Boys just need to get that energy out in healthy ways, which may sometimes be good-natured wrestling and sword fighting and playing war but which often means running and climbing and exploring...while wrestling and fighting dragons...or whatever else their little brains think up.

Yes, they see and mimic our sinful patterns. But we are not going to be perfect this side of eternity. Sin is always part of the equation, so we can accept it, pray for forgiveness, and pray for our the next day and the next generation to be better. Or we can get held down by our sin. Grace. Grace. Grace. Did I say that already?

Just Me April 4, 2009 at 5:07 PM  

Oh Farrah-
I understand. I want to reach through the computer and hug you.

Part of it is being the big brother S get be rough at times and heaven forbid anyone look at B's trains...

I had never connected the roughness and my lack of patience- but reading this has given me a lot to think about especially in light of events today.

Sometimes I feel like I am not the mother they deserve that I am not cut out for the mom thing. Sometimes I can rock it though--- even on my own

Catherine April 4, 2009 at 7:18 PM  

I'm trying to figure out this three year old boy thing myself, so you're probably wanting to hear from someone further down the road. But I have noticed that since becoming a big brother, A is naughtier when he hasn't had one on one time with me, and better behaved when he has. But that time is hard to come by, I know.

But mostly, I think you should wait and see how things look in mid July. Its been a long, long winter. They might just need to run for about two months straight.

Melinda April 4, 2009 at 7:33 PM  


I sent you an email to the Baby Love Slings addy.

Atwood-Family of 4 April 5, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

Farrah, you are doing a great job. You have more tolerance and patience in your pinkie than I have in my entire being. I totally understand though what you mean about whining. That is our thing. Whining ALL THE TIME over EVERYTHING and I lose it too. I find myself responding harshly or yelling at her way too much and my heart breaks over it. And I do the same thing, hug her, hold her close, tell her I love her so much-much more than she may ever know-and I hope that's enough to cover up the times I am harsh to her.

Heather @ Not a DIY Life April 5, 2009 at 8:12 PM  

Since I don't have any experience with raising boys, I asked Hubby, who is the youngest of 4 boys about this. They were always very physical with each other; that's just part of being boys. But I think knowing the boundaries was very helpful to him growing up. His parents were strict yet loving. He still has a great relationship with both of them and he turned out to be a loving, attachment-parenting kind of man.

Set boundaries. Give Lucas lots of time for physical play.

If it helps at all, I am constantly telling Ladybug to be gentle and stop hitting. So I know that part of that is just the age that they are.

Praying for you, Farrah!

Heather April 6, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

Well I don't have boys and the girls are not rough and tumble all the time...only occasionally, but I do understand the frustration of constantly correcting some days and also not being able to keep my own emotional reactions in check.

I never feel like I do enough to keep them occupied or stimulated. We of course are in grad school bootcamp over here and I'm working on letting go of some mommy guilt that I always have looming...I'll let you know how that goes.

Otherwise all I can say is you are a wonderful mother...and where you are insufficient our Provider is.

Also, Spring come quickly and come for real!

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