A few weeks ago Brent was teasing Matthew with, "Who do you like better, mommy or daddy? You like daddy best, right? C'mon, you like daddy, right?"
Ohhh, that man likes to play with fire.
I was there, but I didn't say anything.
Matthew looked serious for a long moment, and then he answered,
"No, daddy, me wike BOh mommy daddy!" in a tone which implied that, really, this was common knowledge and Brent should know.
I smiled and looked back at the table. Matthew went on with what he was doing.
Small, almost unnoticed, and certainly unremarked. But mine.
Not over Brent, but over my guilt demons. Over my relentless fear that our rocky transition after Matthew's adoption two and a half years ago had permanently damaged the relationship between Matthew and myself beyond repair.
My world then was largely characterized by guilt, fear, anxiety, anger, and deep sadness.
I've learned a few things;
I'm not a perfect parent.
Guilt is destructive.
Guilt is created by the things I tell myself about myself, and I can control that internal monologue and turn it away from guilt.
I fear loss of control over my life and my children.
This fear is common, but based on the untrue assumption that 'control' is something valuable AND attainable.
Self control is the key to effective parenting.
Calm thoughts create a calm inner landscape, which makes self control possible.
Love is not simply a feeling.
I MUST love myself. This is not optional.
Leaving is not an option. (I wanted it to be)
When I'm angry with my kids, it's generally because I'm angry with a shortcoming in myself. It's always because I'm focused on what I don't want, rather than on what I want (ie, I want you to stop hitting your brother!! rather than, I want you to be gentle and respect your brother!!)
Life is painful sometimes.
Kids are able to weather parental storms.
Help is hard to find.
Friends are invaluable, priceless, precious, and imperative.
My mom is a good source of strength.
I have frightening, dark spots in my soul.
We all do.
I am courageous.
I am hopeful.
I am good.
It is possible to experience joy in parenting Matthew.
Today I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude for how rich my life is, how blessed I am by these three boys, and by how much I love them.
They fart and burp and have pointy elbows and cry really loudly when hurt or unjustly treated, and they wear me down and push my buttons. But the also kiss me and hug me and hold my hand, and their eyes are sparkly (I take tons of credit for that sparkle; it makes me feel good) and they have hilarious ideas (mommy, when me and Matthew grow up we're going to have a farm and live in a house together and when it's time for us to get married there will be FOUR of us in the house until we have one hundred and one babies and then the house will be fery full!) and they try new things, and they hug my baby bump and kiss it and tell it stories and lie on top of it and elbow it unknowingly and try to lift it up, and they race each other to finish their milk and their toast and even their poops.
They sparkle, people. Their potential is vast, untried, boundless. Their imaginations spin.
How MUCH I am blessed!
And all the more blessed because I have walked through a dark valley, for I know how bright the light is now, having known the darkness.