It was so many things all together all at the same time in my mind, and much applies to both my boys, and even my role as a wife, but mostly this week my thoughts have focused on Owen. Because that is where I feel like I am failing most in my life right now.
Maybe because I’ve been wrongfully letting my feelings towards him become tainted by my frustrations with him, or wrongfully letting other people’s evaluations of him affect my feelings. Maybe I’m just letting my feelings of frustration from the fact that I feel so lost in my life right now get in the way of my doing the things I know I should be doing for him right now as his mother.
Owen’s sleep was fitful this week. He was up coughing a lot. And there were many nights of the whining that comes along with being tired and wanting to sleep and yet being too uncomfortable to fall asleep.
But I didn’t find this hard to deal with. Maybe it’s because your heart is automatically softened when you see your child in real physical distress that you cannot remedy. You automatically feel more patient than normal, and more desire to comfort your child.
I know that one night as I sat on the couch with Owen, my thoughts went back to scripture we had read in our women’s Relief Society class that Sunday. It’s a doctrine that is as Mormons are one of our “peculiar” beliefs among Christianity.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:46-47 46 “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me”
Until children begin to approach the age of accountability at the age of 8, they are free from sin– we don’t consider them “accountable” for obedience to God’s commandments, but beyond that I was focused on the idea that it isn’t just that God doesn’t “count” their behavior as sin it’s that “power is not given unto Satan to tempt” them.
Meaning, to me, that when Owen acts in certain ways that I don’t like, or we tell him not to, it isn’t that he is”giving in” to temptation or sin when he does it. It’s something different. It’s the impulses of his little body or his own little intelligence that is making a choice and acting on it. It isn’t that he’s a “devil child” (being influenced by Satan) or any other phrase people come up with to name difficult children. And that in reality when we are reprimanding our boys with the phrase “naughty” about something they’ve done, that really is not entirely accurate. The boy is not “naughty.”
Granted, the behavior is not desirable, and it is our responsibility as parents to teach our children so that they learn and as they begin to become accountable for their actions know the difference between right and wrong. But this really made me think about our expectations of Owen right now. Obviously, we are trying to teach and train him to behave in a socially acceptable manner. But we need to remember that he is still young, and learning and his self-mastery will not be developed overnight, and I cannot let other people’s judgment of my child “shame” me or negatively influence my feelings towards him.
Amazingly, amid the sickness and lack of sleep, Owen had a great week at speech group. I sent him both days because his cold kept cycling, I thought he was “over the worst of it” but then it would cycle badly again. But it was his first week back after Christmas break, and I was nervous about the transition–but Owen surprised us all and had a great week. Which then makes me question the need for him to be starting a 30 day evaluation period in a school district pre-school today. The speech teacher wonders about Owen’s social and emotional abilities, the effectiveness of some of his coping abilities while interacting with other students.
However, when I met with his new pre-school teacher on Friday, she talked about evaluating cognitive delay, because that often goes hand-in-hand with a speech delay. And then at some point, she asks me the question about if I have seen any issues/problems/whatever word she chose, and it was really hard for me to answer that question. I avoided the topic of cognitive delay, because, in true parent-fashion, Jeremy and I both think Owen is exceptionally smart. But on the topic of social/emotional, I just don’t know. Does Owen get his own way all the time at home? No, and so he throws fits for us at home too. The same type of breakdowns they say he’s having at speech group. But we don’t give in to him, and eventually, he gets over it and we can all carry on.
But perhaps, I said, in the respect that I’ve recently been considering not starting him in Kindergarten this year–feeling like maybe another year would be good for him to get ready to be able to function in the structured environment of the classroom. . . maybe yes, maybe that means I am doubtful of his ability to function in that setting presently. But yet as a parent is that something that I would mentally identify as My child has a “problem”? No- that isn’t the terms you think in as a parent.
As a parent, you love your child and want to help them be successful and happy. Thus, Saturday was a hard day too. There was a children’s activity at church. It was hard for me. Owen is getting older. We try to give him more independence because I can’t spend my whole life sitting next to him holding his hands down in his lap. But it’s hard to watch the leaders telling Owen to sit down or quiet down. It’s hard to watch as he sits down by the little girls his age (there are no other boys) and they scoot away from him. And it was unbearable for me to watch him cry in pain after his mouth was burned by his hot chocolate refreshment. Just to feel like no one cares about my child, and yet here he is, just as vulnerable as the rest of them, just as able to be in anguish, even though he’s not the “perfect” or “adorable” child that everyone loves to dote on.
But he is such a sweet, sweet boy. He loves those little girls he goes to class with, he’ll hold their hands and walk them down the hall to class. And Wednesday afternoon, he asked me if I would sit on the couch so he could sit on my lap. And in his yucky, feeling sick state he cuddled with me and laid on my lap for 2 hours until Daddy got home.
And that is the hard thing about being a parent, knowing what a sweet spirit he has, and yet feeling like no one recognizes it. And so it was that this weekend Jeremy commented on my ability to be so patient with Owen. And I explained my ponderings that if I as his mother can’t or won’t be patient with him, then who will? How can I expect that of others?
But honestly, I was having many different feelings as I started writing about this on Saturday night than I do today. Because after the week’s experiences, I felt expanded and like I had a greater understanding of some things as a mother. And then Sunday was just a really hard day. Owen was just having a hard time all day long. So it threw me back into turmoil. So then I am here, with so many questions about myself, and what are and how do I fulfill Owen’s needs. So many things that I don’t know.
But I believe we are meant to have joy in our lives, and I believe that our children are blessings to bring us joy and fulfillment. So I will continue to seek inspiration to learn more about the special spirit inside my child and to know more of what I am meant to do to bless his life as well. And hopefully, I will also be blessed to recognize progress along the way, and feel that I have done at least some things well.