Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Re-Writing History

It's been a hard couple of years with my oldest child.  I hate to even write that statement down because some might assume I have favorites, and Mr. Grouchy Pants is not it. I have two amazing boys and they are completely different. I love so many things about each one individually.  I do have to confess that there have been times in these early toddler years that I have LOVED my little Grouch, but didn't like him very much.  I write this down because as I explain this struggle, some very desperate parents out there might be able to relate and find a little hope.

Mr. Grouchy Pants was always that.  Grouchy.  My adorable, stubborn, beautiful little sour puss. Sometimes I feel like he came out with a scowl on his precious face that just never went away. Don't get me wrong, there were moments of cheerfulness and big smiles and plenty of laughter. But he was always a very particular child.  I learned early that things had to go according to plan, or he may just have an emotional meltdown.  I probably fed that fire. Don't we all when it's our first baby?  We hang on their every "goo-goo-gah-gah", we give them what they want or need even before they ask us, we are perfectly content devoting our every waking hour to just sitting and staring at them.  They are new and exciting and they learn that we were put on this earth to entertain them, provide for them, and cater to their every whim. Not that this is a bad thing.  But we teach them what to expect from us.  I think in my case, especially, I became all things to Mr. Grouch and worshipped his sweet little spoiled behind one iota too much.  I didn't think that was possible.  He was my baby, and always would be.

Until I had Mr. Stinky Pants.

Boy did our world come to a screeching halt. Especially for Big Brother. All of the sudden, mommy's attention and focus wasn't solely wrapped up in his every move. He had to compete for the chance to be the one sitting comfortably on Mommy's lap. He went from being "Mommy's Baby" to "Mommy's Big Boy" overnight. And if the title "Big Boy" meant no more crawling into mommy and daddy's bed every morning, no more hour-long story times at night, and no more bedtimes where Mommy rocked him to sleep every night for two hours while humming his favorite lullaby, then "Big Boy" was NOT the new nickname that he wanted.

Things changed in our house, but they also changed for me emotionally.  I felt torn. I didn't realize that going from one child to two would be such a drastic difference. What's one more, I thought. Apparently, one more came with a whole lot of sacrifices. The main one being letting go of the atmosphere of "Grouch-worship" that was so routine to us, and embracing a new life of balance.  I obviously did not handle the transition well.  And neither did Mr. Grouchy Pants.

The next few years were filled with meltdowns, resentment, and bitterness.  The more Grouch acted out due to lack of the attention that he'd grown so accustomed, the more I threw my hands up in surrender and just turned even more attention to Stinker. It was a vicious cycle. One that neither of us knew how to stop from happening.  I was so overwhelmed by the outbursts and negative actions of Grouch that I retreated to Stinker and allowed my husband to tend to our "difficult child".  If I were to be really transparent, I would admit that the moment that Stinker arrived, I began to neglect Grouch in such a way that he was left with emotional scars that we are still trying to fix. However good my intentions or how accidental my behavior was in the two and a half years to follow, it left Grouch with feelings of abandonment and a grudge so deep that it will take God's help to overcome. I've accidentally broken my little one's heart. I'm learning to forgive myself for this so that I can penetrate through his again.  It's a daily process.

Through this whole ordeal, I've learned a lot. I've learned that Mr. Grouchy Pants and I were given each other for a reason. We are in so many ways alike. You see, I had a parent who I could never please. One who made me feel like a constant inconvenience.  One who would only love me if I lived up to his expectations.  I was constantly disowned.  Constantly pleading for love and attention.  Constantly feeling abandoned and alone. Don't think for a minute that this is just a coincidence. Generational sins are a real-life curse. My dad and I currently have no relationship. It breaks my heart everyday.  In the same way that it probably broke my dad's heart for years and years that he had no relationship with his mother. And she had no relationship with her mother. This is something that our family has been struggling with for decades.

And it stops here. 

No matter how long it takes me, or to what lengths I have to go, my son will feel loved.  He may struggle with it.  He may fight me like he does sometimes now when I tackle him in a bear hug and struggle to get free.  He may say mean and hurtful things to me to break my heart the way I have unintentionally broke his. But I won't walk away. I won't take the easy route and play favorites and spend all my time with the "pleasant child".  Mr. Grouchy Pants has a Mr. Happy Pants inside him just waiting to be freed, I just know it. I make it my life mission to find him.  Our routine daily takes turns for the better. I'm learning to balance my emotions and get a tighter grasp on my patience. I'm learning that with kids, taking the "easy route" is almost never the best route.  And most of all, I'm learning to not just love my kids, but to like them as well. They are a product of their history.  The history that I get the pleasure of writing every single day. One day, Mr. Grouch will look back on this history lesson and be thankful that his mom was a soldier; realizing her mistakes but never ever giving up the fight.

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