Wednesday, March 31, 2010
As the mother of a sometimes-temperamental five-year old, I've heard it more than once.
Those words always are rooted in hurt and shame. She lost the game. Fell off her bike. Or maybe I found something valuable, mangled beneath her bed, and asked her to tell me how it happened. Could be I found her doing something I'd asked her not to, and yet she just could not resist the temptation. She's mad... not so much at me (other than the fact I've put a dent in her fun), but really at herself, thinking she's disappointed me.
She simply does not realize yet that no matter what she might do, even if it hurts or disappoints me, I love her... completely. That everyone, no matter how good they are (and she really is a very good girl) messes up, gets embarrassed, gets hurt. And that my job is to be there to hold her, support and encourage her, and lovingly establish and enforce boundaries (for my sake, yes... but especially for hers). To show her that regardless of the transgression, I will always forgive her and always, always love her.
The thing is... I love to see her test the boundaries. Her curiosity, sense of fun and zest for life are second to none, and there is so much for me to learn from her. But since I care about my daughter, her well-being and the person she will be when she grows up as well as those whose lives she will touch... sometimes I have to be the bad guy... er, gal. I cannot look the other way, no matter how easy it may be. Its difficult to address issues with her at times; she is who she is and I know she will sometimes have a melt-down because she is hurt, embarrassed, sick, tired, or sugared... and tell me to "go away". It would be so much easier, in the short-term, to look the other way... but in the long-term, it would be doing her a grave injustice.
Even though I'm her mom and know that what she really is saying is, "I feel bad, please just give me a little space to pull myself together", it still cuts to the core. Sometimes I will just hold on to her real tight; that's my instinct. But I'm learning that it usually doesn't take too long for her to want Mom again, to feel the safety, acceptance and love in my open arms. So lately, what I do is say, "Okay. I'll be right here if you need me. I love you forever." And then I make absolutely certain to keep that promise.
We always have two voices in our heads. One says, "You messed up, you're worthless, you've done too many bad things, hurt too many people, you'll never be any good... who do you think you are, anyway? You don't deserve forgiveness, or love, or happiness".
The other voice is God's. It says, "You messed up... you feel bad... but there is nothing I can't forgive and I forgive you. I love you. I created you. You are My child, let Me comfort you and bless you. Come here."
My job, as her mother, is to teach my daughter to listen to the second voice... the voice of Truth.
The best way to do that is to show her I listen to it myself.