[bl]L[/bl]uke shuffles into our room, unable to sleep. I half sigh, half smile. When I take my mother apron off at the end of the day, I look forward to my treasured time with Mark. We cling to those late night moments of togetherness. So, it can be frustrating when all the children are restless and unable to find sleep. But, when it’s a single child who is held awake by thoughts or dreams or fears, Mark and I enjoy the rare opportunity to focus our love on just one.
Luke crawls between us in our bed and we begin to talk. Without any prior thought, I ask questions about how he is. How his brother relationship is doing. What excites him about the coming warmer months.
Initially, the answers to such questions are short. Good. Okay. But after a little coaxing, I’m able to enter into some real dialogue with him. And at some point the conversation shifts and Luke talks about his relationship with his dad. Mark is present and we are thankful that he’s able to be so honest.
As the words pour out of him, I feel rich with understanding. His recent temper comes into focus. His outbursts make a bit more sense. And his anger is seen with more grace than I’ve offered him before. Instead of simply having a bad attitude or stubborn spirit, we understand better that Luke struggles with power, with wanting to be in control.
Luke is able to express that he often feels like Mark is big and he is small. And it makes him angry when he feels out of control and unable to make decisions for himself. He wants to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. And he resents Mark being able to tell him differently.
Don’t we all?
Mark and I hold back giggles at Luke’s impression that parents have this freedom. To do what they want. When they want. One day he will realize. Probably not until he has children. But one day Luke will understand all the sacrifices a parent must make in order for a family to thrive.
In the beginning, the parent sacrifices are difficult. I remember feeling like I was becoming someone new and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Motherhood was taking me over at a pace I wasn’t comfortable with. And everything I knew myself to be was dissolving right before my eyes.
But somewhere along the journey, I came to really love the becoming me. To appreciate the roll. The apron of motherhood fit me quite well – I just had to find a cute stylish pattern.
I needed to discover how to be truly me in my new and forever role. How to let my values and personality shine as a mother, rather than sweeping them under the rug until my children were grown — only to find they had collected dust all those years.
I don’t get to do what I want, when I want. But the joyful irony is that the tasks and chores and responsibilities that have been mother sacrifices, are now the very things I want to do. Not always with joy. Not always without complaining. But deep down, they are my heart’s desire.
I share just a bit of this with Luke, though I realize he won’t fully be able to appreciate my journey. But mostly I want him to know that life isn’t about doing what you want, when you want.
Life is really less about you, and more about others.
Luke looks at us and smirks, Enough of the speech. I guess this is what I get for not going to bed. We laugh and surprise him with a late night invitation to watch an episode of River Cottage with us.
In my asking, we discovered Luke’s misperception about the life of a parent, his struggle with control and a genuine insecurity he has with his father. Just twenty minutes of conversation gives me great perspective into his little heart. And I know that I will respond and discipline with more grace as we help Luke work through his struggle with power. Mark and I are not alarmed by Luke’s confession. We’ve been noticing things in him that point to this. It plays out in mild ways in the heart and mind of a ten year old. But we know this sin. We recognize it as a generational sin in my family, and we can project how it manifests in an adult. So we listen and try to understand so we can help.
Children won’t necessarily offer this kind of information on their own. Most often these issues surface during sibling conflict, discipline and arguments. But those moments are not environments of grace. They aren’t the most fruitful time of discovery because elevated emotions can prevent honest dialogue and responses.
I’m learning to find moments of asking. Spontaneous moments, random questions. Safe times of exploring our relationship, or his relationship with others. Of listening. Of responding, rather than reacting. This is a mother being an environment of grace for her children.
I’m glad I asked.
#93 A warm cozy house no matter how badly we want to be outside
#94 A son who helps without me asking
#95 1000 Gifts seen on someone’s bookshelf
#96 Good food and honest conversations about life, family and Jesus
#97 Big brothers who want to camp out in Little Brother’s room
#98 Phone calls from Texas and Oklahoma in the same week
#99 A reason to keep trusting in God’s provision
#100 21 minutes of (almost) quiet a day