Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stealing devotion

Graham is quite the lover boy these days.

Almost overnight it seems my boy understands the power inherent in hugs and kisses and loving coos and as a result showers me with them at every possible opportunity.

But even though, God knows, I’ve spent nearly every day of his short life teasing and coaxing out of him various expressions of affection, I feel like a bit of a fraud, gobbling up this new found goodwill as if it were my due.

How is it possible that he doesn’t sense how flawed his mother is?

Because I do have flaws, tons of them, and in those moments when he lifts his innocent, rapturous face to mine I can’t help but cringe with shame and run through them in my mind.

I have been impatient with him on countless occasions.

I remember endless nights during his infanthood when I paced the floor, rhythmically jostling him and singing lullabies with a clenched jaw and seething resentment in my heart. And just tonight I caught myself huffing with annoyance when his screaming and sniffling nose summoned me into his bedroom a half dozen times in the hours after his bedtime.

I have been selfish.

I have often taken exception to the demands he makes on my time. I have longed for the days when my evenings were my own. I have caught myself looking at the clock and counting the hours, the minutes, until I can put him to sleep. I have woken at night to his crying and bitten my tongue while I tended to him lest I shout what was in my heart: GODDAMNIT! CAN YOU NOT JUST GO TO SLEEP?!”

I have been ungrateful.

I have sometimes begrudged, rather than celebrated, his robust health and his boundless energy, willing him to just sit quietly, slow down a little, wishing he wouldn't force me to move so quickly or to work so hard at exploring the world alongside him.

This is not to say that I think I am a bad mother: I know that I am not. I love Graham with all my heart and I care for him to the absolute best of my ability. I am not fishing for reassurance: I am merely trying to articulate how small I feel, how humbled I am, how very inadequate my absolute best seems in the face of his recent adulation.

This new phase, this sweet, sweet loving phase, has me wanting to redouble my efforts, to work harder, to be better and to earn the love and the trust I see reflected in his eyes.

But no matter how hard I may try, I can’t imagine feeling entitled to bask in my pride when he throws his chubby little arms around me and plasters my legs with sloppy kisses all the while exclaiming, "Oh mama, you beautiful. Oh mama, I love you!”

Because there is a tiny corner of my brain that registers how truly unworthy I am of such adoration and a tiny part of my heart that breaks just thinking about the day when Graham has the maturity to discern that for himself.

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54 comments:

Beth said...

What a great post!

And you know what? It sounds like you have been a mother.

And the great thing about kids...they love us in spite of all our imperfections.

Melissa said...

Enjoy it while you have it. That's how I'm chosing to live life at this point.

Aunt Becky said...

*hugs*

No one is perfect, no worries. Kids (usually) like us for who we are :)

Chantal said...

Enjoy it for sure. My 6 year old has started pulling away and it breaks my heart.

Trudie said...

Don't you think we would be totally insufferable if we never were to be impatient, selfish, ungrateful and countless other things? Do we need to set the standards for ourselves higher that those we expect others to live up to? We're only human for Pete's Sake!

Kimmylyn said...

What a great post..but as others have said.. they still love us regardless of our imperfections..

OHmommy said...

Awe... so sweet. I too, am amazed, at how much in love the kiddos are with me. Even after a day of arguing and discplining they still thank God for the best mom in the world. ;)

anne said...

Oh, boy... I've so often looked at the clock or clenched my teeth. Thank goodness I'm not the only one! I always feel bad too.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Oh this post made me cry.

That is the beauty of the love between a mother and child.

p.s. love love the accompanying photo

oda41143 Missy said...

Thank you for this post. I now know that I am not alone in the thoughts that have gone on in my head these past 8 years. Sometimes I feel like I do not deserve my children because I am very ungrateful. It is so hard to be a mom.

Sass E-mum said...

His cuddles and kisses just go to show how much love you've been showering on him. So lovely. Peaches has just got very cuddly lately - she's a similar age to Graham. It must be a stage of development. I'm loving it!

Heather said...

My eyes still get misty when my kids bestow me with such affection. I like to say that my son, in particular, has a strong survival instinct because he drives me to the brink of insanity then says sweetly "I love you sooo much mama."

The stinker.

Lisa said...

He will not see those imperfections, ones that we all have and feelings that we've all felt. Instead he will see that love in your eyes. The love that is the love of all loves....the love a mother has for her child. And he even when he hits that horrible age where they pretend they don't love us, he will...knowing the love you have for him!

Once again, a beautiful post.

Backpacking Dad said...

My daughter's kisses make me want to put on a cape and fight crime.

Kami said...

I can relate to this on so many levels. My oldest is 7 and he still hasn't figured out I haven't hung the moon. It'll happen sooner or later but until then, I am going to enjoy the undying devotion.

I have given you an award too!

Kathryn said...

He will always love you just as you are. A loving mother.
Beautiful post!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Our children's uncritical love is God's gift to us. Revel in it.

We don't deserve God's grace either, but we would be fools to reject it on those grounds.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Don't worry--one day he'll be a teenager and he'll gladly articulate your many flaws for you.

Bask while the basking's good!

womaninawindow said...

None of us are perfect but that you want to be says so much. Funny, I've never considered the hugging etc with an end in sight for my son. Hopefully his teenager years don't change this...my daughter is a whole other story.

common mom said...

Excellent post. Our kids will always love us just as we are . . . that's what makes us "their" mommy. Nobody is perfect. I have all the "limitations" that do . . . when I lose it, I feel so bad and guilty. The important thing is to pick yourself up and use it as a teaching moment . . . even mommies make mistakes and must ask forgiveness.

Family Adventure said...

Don't you wish you could just bottle all that love up and save it for a rainy day?!

Heidi :)

Whitenoise said...

Dudette... twenty years from now he'll feel the same way. You earned it, you deserve it.

Momma said...

Ah my dear, you've been human!

If you're as lucky as I am, your boy will still love you all the way into adulthood. They know you're not perfect. You are simply demonstrating the spectrum of human feelings, modeling that for him. But yes, they certainly can make us feel small when they shower that unconditional love on us, can't they?

Peace - D

Elaine A. said...

OH they do love us so!!

I could have written much of this post myself (maybe not so eloquently, but you understand...)

Angella said...

This is beautiful, Kelly. Just beautiful.

chelle said...

Amazingly not feeling quite so alone anymore ... Great post!

KathyLikesPink said...

Feel no guilt, and lap it all up now - 13 comes soon enough!

(This is the voice of experience!)

Haley-O said...

My GOSH how this resonates with me right now.... But, oh, you are so worthy. Especially when you are so thoughtful and self-searching to write something like this....

Shannon said...

Wonderful words!!! My son was born Nov. '05 too and I can completely relate . . . the photo captures it perfectly too.

The Boyds Family said...

He's so darn cute! Your words are so beautiful - enjoy this time.

amanda said...

such a sweet picture and such a beautiful post friend.


btw - you are totally stalker worthy!!

krissy said...

Great post. You sound like a typical mom though. I have felt more guilt in my mothering days then I have ever felt in my life. I am postitive I am screwing her up!

I don't see your flaws. I see a wonderful mom, wife and friend.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Beautifully put. I think most of us feel that way at times, at least I hope so. What a wonderful gift, unconditional love, to receive as well as give.

Laski said...

I completely adore you for writing this . . . today of all days.

Thank you, thank you.

I will gobble those kisses and hugs (no matter how undefined they may be for a 9 month old) with more enthusiasm than ever before.

It is sometimes difficult to remember that when they see us, they see love in a pure and perfect form. Nothing else . . .

Corey~living and loving said...

What a fabulously deep post. I enjoyed reading it, and reflecting on what it means to me. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

Marmarbug said...

There is NOTHING better than hugs and kisses from your child.
That being said I too, know how you feel! I hate the days I get impatient, frustrated, angry but remind myself that he is still small and he just want my love.
No one is perfect. Especially not me!

Mental P Mama said...

I know for a fact that my own children love me in spite of the fact that I am a human. And I know for a fact that Graham will too. Enjoy every kissing minute...

Karen MEG said...

Enjoy, Kelly. These are very, very precious times. That first real hug, that first real kiss.

Adorable picture!

Tracey said...

DAmn, you get a lot of comments! I didn't read them, but here's my 2 cents:

Every parent resents their children. At least briefly but usually? Usually vehemently from time to time. The joys are definitely worth the frustrations, but the frustrations can be SO great that it is hard to see the good from underneath it all.

You sound like a perfectly normal mom to me. And yes, it will be sad when our kids grow and look at us and say "Oh man... Mom and Dad are just HUMAN. Just like everyone else..." But it's a normal part of growing up.

Holly said...

we've all been there.... you're definitely not alone!

Kbreints said...

oh yes, I know those thoughts... though you can be sure that we earn each and every one of those kisses!

Joanna said...

Eat it up with a spoon because time goes too fast. Mommy guilt is a thief that will get me to look at the past rather then enjoy the right now.

It's also nice when you do blow it and scream then say oh I'm so sorry they are soooo fast to forgive and will reassure you that it's okay.

GoMommy said...

I have been in the "Just go to bed God Dammit" moment far too often. I sometimes worry I'm not a good nurturer, but then my kids snuggle in close, or reach up and take me hand, or tell me they love me- and my heart melts and all I want to do is squeeze and cuddle them. Children make us far more human than we would ever want to admit.

kittenpie said...

I do wonder sometimes - will she grow up to remember the fractures, or the overall? Will she recall with great clarity born of shock the times I lose it, like I remember my mother's? Will she resent some of my tactics, like I do some of my parents'? It's sobering, a little sad, knowing how deeply we love and try, to contemplate that.

Susiewearsthepants said...

Ahhh the unconditional love of a child, there is no greater gift.

April said...

Oh, I know exactly what you mean! And you've summed it up so beautifully here.

wheelsonthebus said...

That pretty much sums up the experience of being a mother.

painted maypole said...

oh, just enjoy it while it lasts. MQ is in a very kissy and huggy stage, and I try to never waste an opportunity to receive them!

Shellie said...

You don't have to be perfect to deserve his adoration. Suck it all up while he's offering it, you probably won't get much of this while he's a teen.

Redneck Mommy said...

It is through my children's show of affections that have kept the deep sea of grief from swallowing me whole more than once.

Those hugs and kisses are the truest treasure to be found on earth.

Jobthingy said...

isnt it amazing how they love you so much regardless no matter what? its beautiful.

nomotherearth said...

Exactly. I get this.

Jaina said...

:) You have a precious one there.

caramama said...

It's unconditional love. Luckily, that means that they love us even with our faults, as we do them.

And, I know exactly how you feel. :-)