A few days ago I had a wake up call that reminded me that motherhood will not always be as I know it now. One of our children did something that in our house will probably always be remembered as "the Terrible Awful" (name taken from the book "The Help"). I was shocked, disappointed, angry, and just about every other emotion that comes along when your child does something that it is far beneath them.
After a severe reprimand and taking away some privileges, I stood at the kitchen sink fuming as I washed the dinner dishes. Where had I failed as a mother to make him think that would ever be okay? Is this how it feels to be truly disappointed in someone? Because if it is, this is a first for me. So this is what mothers with older children mean when they look at me with my four little ducklings and tell me to enjoy these days- it's because after the diapers, sleepless nights, and car seats comes this.
After simmering down a bit I went up to his room and found him huddled in a corner with his head in his knees, sobbing. I sat down next to him and asked him, "Why are you crying? Are you sad that you were grounded?"
He looked up with red, swollen, watery eyes and sobbed, "No... I just can't believe I did that!" He reached up, wrapped his little arms around my neck and continued to sob. As we talked more about it, he never mentioned the privileges lost, only heart-wrenching remorse for his actions.
After the kids were tucked into bed with hugs and reassurances that "mom and dad still love you very much" and that "it's in the past," I couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief. It was there- the pricking of the heart when wrong is done and a desire to make things right again.
And so that night a sliver of light was shed on some of the obstacles that lay ahead... and it terrifies me. I realize that as a mother I will never be able to squeeze them into a little mold of who I think they should be no matter how noble my motives might be. The decisions they make and who they choose to be are wild cards and in a way it leaves me feeling terribly helpless. But even as I sense the unchartered mine fields that lay ahead, there come moments of sweetness as I see them into growing loving little people. Little people with a sincere desire to be good and kind despite my own poor example at times. I realize there will be many times when all I can do is hold on tight and provide a soft place to fall after the tumble. It's this realization that makes me savor these times of formula, potty-training, and high chairs, and brace myself for the ride ahead.