Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Boy

Today was a good day.

In spite of the fact that my tummy didn't want me to have a good day. Oh no. It was determined to ruin my day.

But I did the unthinkable.

I hit the bottle.

The pink bottle, that is.

You know...that bottle called Pepto Bismal.

I realize that may not be a big deal for most people. But I am not most people.

I can't STAND the stuff! AT.ALL!

And today I took a dose. That means my tummy was being very rebellious!

Guess What?

The Pepto won!!!

But that's not what's really on my mind. As the title of this post is not "My Tummy".

No, I want to talk about the day with my son today.

I have to admit something that is very difficult for me, as a mom to admit - as I'm sure it would be for any mom.

I love my son with ALL my heart. But, for the past few years, we have really butted heads...a lot. And I hate that...desperately.

It rips my heart out, actually.

I long to have a relationship with him that is happy and sweet where we always get along.

I know...I know...that is extremely rare, if it even exists. I understand that there are ups and downs in every mom/son relationship.

But I want it to be happy more of the time than not.

He's 13 - I don't have many years left to influence him. I want him to be able to look back on his teen years and smile, not be sad or angry with me over them. I don't want him to say things like, "I wish my mom had...." Or, "I wish my mom hadn't".

And again, I know...there is no way everything can be perfect. But I really want him to have many more good and happy memories than bad.

I certainly don't want the only thing he remembers about his teen years is that mom was on his case or yelling at him all the time! Even if it's not all warm fuzzies, I want there to be some!

Why do we clash? I'm not really sure. It could be that he and I are too much alike. It could be that I just don't "get" boys. Maybe I'm too controlling. Then again, maybe it's a combination of those. Or something else. I'm not totally sure.

What I am sure of, is I can't do this without God. And I'm praying God will help me get a handle on the situation and help me make the most of these years.

Thankfully, I have an INCREDIBLE husband, who helps keep me in check, so I don't totally destroy our son's life! And he does his best to help me "get" CJ. I am so thankful of God's plan to have a mom and a dad to raise children. I know sometimes circumstances get in the way of that, and single parents are left to do it. I honestly don't know how they manage though! I wouldn't have a CLUE how to raise this boy without the help and encouragement of my husband.

Anyway...about today.

In the mornings, it is always my goal to have a good day. To listen to my son, and talk to him. To be calm with him, and try to keep my emotions and feelings under control. Not to let him to get to me. To choose my battles wisely. Many days, that doesn't last past breakfast. And definitely not past lunch time.

But today was going quite well. We did make it until after lunch. Nice, kind, soft words were being spoken. It was quite pleasant.

I needed to run a couple of errands. I don't always take him with me when I need to run out for just a little while, because...well, there will be no conflict between us if he stays home. And I will be much calmer the rest of the day if he wasn't asking me for this, that and the other, and doing all the things he does to push my buttons while we are out. But today was going so well, I was more than happy that he tag along.

Now, I didn't say the day was perfect...I said it was good. When were were getting into the car, I was buckling Ruthi into her car seat, when I heard CJ say something like "oops". He had unbuckled the seat belt that holds her car seat in, and then acted as if it were an accident.

I knew better.

There was no reason for him to have even touched that - and it couldn't have been done accidentally.

Yes, I'll admit...I got upset with him, and I even raised my voice yelled at him a little.

The thing is, once that thing gets unbuckled, it is EXTREMELY difficult to her her seat tight enough again. My husband can do it, but he even has some difficulty with it. It's nearly impossible for me. And I was NOT happy with the fact that I couldn't get tight enough for my satisfaction. I realized we weren't going far, and in reality, it would be ok. If we were to be in a rollover, it may possibly not be tight enough, but in a collision, she would be fine. I explained to him the importance of the seat being tight, and how difficult it is to get it tight. And how him messing around with something like that is not alright.

I don't believe he will ever unbuckle that seat again!

Yes, I yelled. But then I got over it and let it go. I have been known to bring things back up to him later, but I'm trying not to do that. So I said my peace, and I dropped it.

And everything was good again. We had a pleasant little outing. He was very well behaved. And I enjoyed the time we spent together running errands, and enjoying frappucinos from Starbucks.

We got home and I suggested he cut the grass since it appeared we would have a dry day today, and this was a good chance to get it done before it got wet again.

He was out there with the lawnmower for a few minutes. Then he came into the house with a big attitude. I asked him what was wrong, and he says something about the lawnmower being broken. I questioned him about details, and he got a bigger attitude and said, "It's just broke!"

I remained surprisingly calm. I told him that was strike one, as he wouldn't have spoken to his father in that tone. (We have a 3-strikes you're out [in trouble with dad] rule.) I proceeded to talk calmly to him. I asked him questions like, "Will it crank?" "Will it roll?" and "Will it cut?" to which he answered yes to all. And I infered that if it could do those three things, then it couldn't really be broken.

He just had more attitude. I don't think he liked my calm, rational questions! So I asked him if he wanted to show me what he was talking about. He said yes.

But when I got up to go to the door, he looked a little surprised. Apparently he thought I was bluffing, and that I would drop the issue and go about my business. Wrong!

So we went outside, he cranked it, and I began to run it across the grass. It was working. However, the grass was clogging a bit in the thingy that it blows out of. Thingy...that's the correct term, right?

I told him that the grass right there was probably still too wet, and it would continue to clog, and he'd just have to clean it out. He then claimed, "Well, it ALWAYS does that!" To which I replied, "Then what's the problem? There's no difference."

Obviously, he wasn't really in the mood for the job. I told him to cut the grass that was in the sun, as it would be drier and probably wouldn't clog. I went back inside.

I was feeling pretty good about the way I had handled the situation - calmly and not making a big deal out of it.

Then...

The good part happened.

He came in a little while later and said to me, "Mom, I owe you an apology...I shouldn't have talked to you the way I did. I'm sorry."

Talk about warm fuzzies...I was feeling them...right after I picked my jaw up off the floor. I could hardly believe what I was hearing! Oh the joy I felt!

Hubby is at the station today. When he called to say goodnight, I recounted the situation to him. He could hardly believe it. He asked me if CJ had EVER apologized on his own, without being prodded to do so by him. And no, I don't think he ever had.

This was monumental! It got me to thinking. Maybe it was because, instead of yelling at him or blowing him off, I TALKED to him and remained CALM. I actually handled the entire situation much like Chip would have - and he even agreed. I was quite proud, not only of the way I handled myself, but of my son - what a huge thing this was!

You know, just yesterday, I was feeling quite crabby, and very much on edge. Call it PMS, that's what I'm blaming it on. And I knew I was on edge...and irritable. I had snapped at CJ for something - I don't even remember what now. But I knew I was wrong. Later, I asked hubby if it was my crabby day. (He keeps up better than I do -lol!) He asked why, and I told him what had happened, and we decided it was close enough, that this was indeed the culprit. At least I was aware, and could do something about it, and try to be less crabby the rest of the day!

When CJ came in later, I apologized to him. I told him that I was on edge, and that I was sorry that he had been on the receiving end, and that me snapping at him the way I did should not have happened.

Did I set an example yesterday, by apologizing when I knew I was wrong? Did that influence him at all with his decision to aplogize to me today? I'd like to think maybe it did.

Today wasn't perfect - but it was a VERY good day! Would it have been even better if I'd not gotten upset with him over the car seat? Sure...But I'll take more days like today.

I'm not perfect. I never will be. And when I make mistakes, I try to apologize. I find myself apologizing frequently to my son - I'm definitely not above that (though I'd like to not need to do this as often.) But I'm working to be a better mom. I want a better relationship with my son. I want him to actually want to be around me...at least sometimes!

I want more days like today. And I know they are coming!

With God's help.

And my husband's!

5 comments:

  1. Praise God! First of all, thanks for sharing parts of your life that are less than perfect. It's a blessing to the rest of us who are also less than perfect.

    Second, I have seen the exact same thing with my girls - when I'm calm and consistent, they respond much better. Now I don't know why I can't just manage to keep it calm and consistent all the time! I guess because I'm human like they are, huh?

    But like you, I'm trying every day to do better. Thanks again for sharing!

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  2. You know, my CJ and I often struggle with butting heads too - and he's only 6! But, I have seen the same thing you have - when I remain calm and rational, he responds very well to me. More often than not, I have to admit to dh bring able to do that much better than myself!

    What a blessing that you had such a great resolution to the lawnmower issue!!

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  3. Oh Jennifer...what a great post! I think that that's something so many of struggle with. The trying to remain calm and rational, that is. I hate how often I have to apologize to my munchkins, but I do apologize. And even my 4-year-old has learned to apologize, without prompting. He has a tough time not losing control at times...but after he calms down, he almost always comes back of his own volition to say he's sorry. I think maybe admitting that we ourselves aren't perfect is one of the best gifts we can give our kiddos.
    It's so funny that you mentioned your "crabby day"...I have two "crabby days" each month myself. And I have to work very hard those days to not take it out on my family.
    Anyway, thanks Jennifer, for this special post!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experience with CJ - I know I struggle with staying calm and handling myself the way I want to. It is good to know that the payoff for doing that can be huge - even with a teenager. CJ is lucky to have such a great mom!

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  5. This was a wonderful post!
    My son is only 5 and he and I clash often.
    I find yelling at him only causes him to yell back or show more attitude. And there are certainly some days that no matter how calm I stay he still acts up, but I am much happier regardless of his response if I keep my cool.
    I actually wrote a post just yesterday about trying to get him to clean his room and how I lost it. I hate those moments.
    Oh, and I think being big enough to apologize when you are wrong breaks down a huge barrier that would be there otherwise. I know I apologize to my kids when I am in the wrong and I think they will respect me more for that, even if they don't always follow the same example.

    ReplyDelete

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