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Back to the Land of the Living

I’m slowly coming out of the fog that is travel-alone-with-three-kids. We just returned last Friday from visiting our friends in Cleveland for ten days. The idea of being alone with my kids and our best friends was a little more rosy than the reality. Even though the kids played and Gretchen and I got to have some great time together, the fact is that I can’t do this alone, and I am even more thankful for the amazing husband I have and all that he does.

For all of you moms of cherubic newborns and babies, let me pass along a word of encourage -ment that a dad of four gave us when I was pregnant with Meghan. It has given me a huge sense of freedom. Here it is: It is perfectly normal to not like your children. And let me tell ya, last week, I was there! I do love my children, of course, and they are a joy to me. But there are times when I really just don’t like them. They make me nuts and I just want them to go away.

I’m saying “children,” but really – honestly – it was Griffin. I have a really hard time understanding him and relating to him. I don’t speak 6-year-old-boy. Michael gets him so much better than I do. There were a lot of factors involved (he was tired, he was away from home, he needs one-on-one time with a parent and he wasn’t getting it, he and Christian – their 6 y.o. son – have very different personalities and were fighting and arguing all week) but the fact is, he was awful. By the end of the week, I was past angry. I was bawling. I told him, through my tears, “I just don’t know how to make you be a good boy.”

And, really, he is a good boy. He’s a great kid. He is smart and hugely affectionate and hysterically funny. After he saw me crying, he came up to me, gave me a hug, sat in my lap, and apologized. How can I stay angry with him?

But he’s also very high-energy, and he’s a boy, which means he hits things. And he plays rough. And he makes a mess. And lately, he’s developed a mouth, which I have zero tolerance for. The whining and the arguing are going to send me over the edge if he does not go to school soon (which thankfully is next week!!! YIPPEEEEE!!)

The highlight of our vacation had to be the evening after dinner when I was cleaning up the dishes, the kids were all out playing, and I look over to see a policeman escorting Griffin to the front door because he had just darted out into the very busy street to retrieve the basketball and came within inches of being hit by a car.

I remember our pastor in Iowa preaching on Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Many people claim this verse as a promise: you teach your kids the right things and how to walk straight, and when they are adults, they’ll keep walking straight. But that’s not what this verse means at all. The original language is translated something like, “Train up a child according to his bent or palate.” In other words, let a child be who God created and wired him to be and guide him in who he already is. The greatest thing we can do as parents is to know our kids – to know their personalities and their tendencies and allow them to grow in who they already are.

So that’s my continual quest – because there are times when I really don’t understand why my kids do the things they do!

So other than that (and Nathan’s screaming for an hour on the plane and Griffin’s throwing up on the plane), we had a good trip. We’re so glad to be home, but we had fun while we were there. Now that we are home, Griffin is starting to act more like a normal person than a monster, for which I am thankful. I’m not sure I could handle much more of this.

And did I mention that SCHOOL STARTS NEXT WEEK?!?!?

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