I often end up with tiny people sleeping in my bed. I don’t mind most of the time, and the last few nights I have treasured their presence. Maximus poked me; “Mommy, I am ready to get up now”. <yaaawn> “In a few minutes, baby.” Minimus was still asleep, and I was barely conscious. I snuggled up to my not-so-tiny-anymore boy, and he whispered “I love you Momma”… “I love YOU, sweet boy.” Minimus stirred, and then squawked, “Mommy!! Tuhn oveh to mee!” <yawn> “Mommy!! I am ready to get up NOW, come on!!” “Hang on a minute Max, I need to hug Minim for a minute.”
I turned over, and gathered my baby (almost 4 year old!!) into my arms, and hugged him gently. He sighed happily, “Oh, you reawy yike Minim, don’t you, Mommy?” <melt.ing> “I really like you, small one, and I really love you too.” “I know, Momma, I yove you too.”
It had occurred to me about 2 weeks ago that my kids were probably pretty starved for affection. I’m drowning in life, and they stand there on the beach… unable to help me, or themselves. But they do help me. In more ways than they will ever know.
It has been HARD. Very. Very, HARD. I’ve been angry. And it took me a while to realize that the anger I’m feeling- well, it’s not anything they have done. I hated how I sounded when I talked to them. I felt like I was strong-arming them through every situation. I’ve mentioned before that I firmly believe my first duty is to my own behavior- and so I cried out to God. I started praying for myself, out loud during our bedtime routine. Asking Holy Spirit to come and lay his hand of peace upon ME. Crying out for that most important of all Fruits, self-control. ‘Lord God! Stop my hands! Calm my voice! Give me your vision of my children. Help me to see them with your eyes! Help me to show them the Grace you have shown me!’
Minimus hadn’t been interested in hearing Bible stories, or participating in prayer. He didn’t like when I prayed or sang hymns. I prayed anyway, but I didn’t make a huge deal out of his reluctance. After about a week of me praying for God to change my behavior, Minimus asked one night to sing the ‘turn your eyes song’. I was floored and rejoiced in my heart. A few days later, he said, “Momma, I wan you to pway to Yord”. Ok then!! Now he says, “Pway ’bout Yord.” Or ‘Pway ’bout Hoyee Dhost’. I fight laughter, but I pray. I prayed for a long time that God would speak to Minim’s heart and reveal Himself to my tiny one. He had.
Recently, things have eased. I still yell sometimes. But God has been providing that control that is so necessary. I was reminded how important the command is to ‘provoke NOT your children to wrath’. I started to remember some of my tips and tricks for changing my responses. When I want to yell, whisper instead. When I want to grab, clap my hands. When I want to hit, move in for a hug. Minimus has started to say, “ahwight, mommy. I wiw yisten” and moving to obey. Once again, Maximus is catching on to some things by watching his brother. They are actually problem solving together. I had to work directly on Maximus- who was using intimidation to make his little brother play the way he wanted. One day I was so tired of correcting them, and helping them to mend their relationship- I cried. “Please just be KiND to each other! If you are kind, maybe you will WANT to play together!”
I was emotional that day because I was keenly aware of how unkindness had become a habit for me. Towards the end of a particularly terrible day, Maximus had come up to me cautiously and said, “Mommy? How about you try to use your kind and gentle words for the rest of the day?” (Thanks kid. I’ll just pull that sword out of my heart, now.) I took a deep breath. “I will try, Max, I promise’. I did try. I succeeded, partially. Through that and other days; days where I have cried, and been offered bowls of pink lemonade, glasses of water, Kleenex, chocolate, and had a stuffed monkey tenderly velcro’d around my neck; I have come to understand a few things. Namely- my kids understand how to show kindness. They care when I hurt. They WANT to learn. They need hugs, touches, praise, gifts, and time spent listening. They need me invested in them. And I must have been- because they invest themselves in me. They know I love them- and to them- love means those things.
More importantly, they know I LIKE them. They know that I choose to spend time with them. I care about what they care about. I think they are fascinating people. They know how to show love back. I think I’m starting to learn this Language.