He and I were tangling the other night. One of us giving pre-teen attitude and the other battling for control. Butting heads is usual for us these days. Both extremely passionate people, perfectionists. And we are critical of others who we don’t feel measure up to a bar that we have created in our own reality. Critical if someone doesn’t think or act the way we think they should. It’s a weakness that I have worked hard to overcome and correct, but I still am greeted with from time to time.
And because Tanner has been around for the last 13 years while I have continued to mature and grow through my 20’s and early 30’s, I have no doubt that small part of him is due to his mother’s shortcomings and him being the witness of them. No one warns you about seeing your own personality reflected through your kids. It’s a humbling thing to see it, have to acknowledge where it came from, and then try to teach your child the opposite of what has been ingrained in you. It’s an out-of-body experience and one that can be exhausting in so many ways.
“Tanner, I just wish…”
“Yeah, I know. I’m a big disappointment. You probably pray every day that you had a different son.”
I so badly just wanted to let him turn on his heel down the hallway after rolling his eyes and call it finished especially when the dramatics are dialed up too high. I was tired from fighting, tired from trying to get him to see that he was being too hard on his siblings. But remember that growth thing and trying to change old habits and ways? Being vulnerable with my children is one of them. Allowing them to see me as a human and not just a parent. Making sure that the walls around me are never too high.
Grabbing him by the arm, I pulled his face into my hands, looked into those deep brown eyes that were welling with tears, my own lip quivering as I said, “Do you want to know what I pray for every day? I get on my knees morning and night and beg my Father in Heaven to give me the strength to be the mother you deserve. I ask him for guidance to rear up one of the most incredible human beings I have ever known. I ask him to forgive me for all the ways that I fail you daily. I ask him how it is possible that he felt I was worthy enough to have you for a son. And I thank him every day for the spirit, energy and blessing you are to me and our family.”
He pulled me in as we wrapped our arms around each other, my forehead resting in his neck as he now stands taller than me at only thirteen years old. We both stood in that dark hallway almost in silence, quietly wiping the tears from our eyes. I kissed his cheek and told him I loved him. He smiled and said, “I know” as he hugged me one last time and then disappeared into his bedroom for the night.
I finished wiping down the counters, flipped the kitchen light off and went to my own room. Before laying down I knelt beside my bed and closed my eyes.
“My dear, Father in Heaven. Please give me the strength to be the mother he deserves. Please guide me in rearing up one of the most incredible human beings I have ever known. Please forgive me for all the ways I have failed him and his siblings today. I don’t know why you felt I was worthy enough to be his mother, but thank you for his spirit, his energy and the blessing he is to me and this family. I will continue to try in all that I do to raise him to be the man you know he is and is supposed to become.”
Tanner will never know. He will never know the power he has within him. He will never know how unique and special he is to this world. He will never know the amount of times I watch him daily, absolutely in awe of the person he is, the amount that he puts on his shoulders, the leadership he brings to us and others, the laughter he fills our home with. And I will continue to parent him and guide him, a difficult task when he gets so much of it right already. And my hope is that he will grow up in an atmosphere that will allow him to discover just how incredible he is and share those gifts with the world. Because within the walls of our home, he has already changed ours.