Ah, the joys of parenting!
I love parenting The Boy – let me just say that up front! Whoever said parenting isn’t for sissies is right 😉 The Husband and I have approached parenting with deliberation…probably overthinking it at times, but we’re forging a new path that is in many ways the opposite of our families of origin. Choices such as Grace-Based Discipline (aka Positive Discipline) mean that we’re learning to parent with intention, instead of simply falling back on learned behavioral patterns. Even when I was a child (especially when I was a child!) the whole “I’m hitting you and one day you can hit your kids when you’re in charge” never really made sense to me. Ok, ok…the word actually used was “spanking”. The action, however, was “hitting” – and no matter what you call it, it’s never, ever seemed logical, productive, effective, or kind to me for a grownup to hit a kid. (I’m not a huge fan of violence in general, although I reserve the right to pull out a hypocritical very angry Mama Bear routine against anyone who would hurt my kiddo…I never claimed to be perfect!)
What I worry about…
I have example after example of children who have been parented the way we are raising our son – I even know adults my age who were fortunate enough to be raised this way – happy, successful, productive adults. And as much as I firmly believe that this is the way to raise a child, when you’re doing something so diametrically opposed to everything you’ve experienced, there’s always that niggling doubt, you know? The “what if I *am* raising a delinquent just because I’m not hitting him?” scenario that all the naysayers try to push forward. Never mind that more and more studies show the negative effects of corporal punishment – this is my one and only child, and I want to be absolutely certain that I’m raising him not only in a way that pleases the Master, but in a way that truly trains him up in the way he should go. I want to raise him in a way that allows him to flourish and grow and be who he was created to be, as free as possible from the baggage that poor parenting can inflict. The support I’ve found and the friends I’ve made at GCM have been invaluable along this journey – been there, done that advice from moms with children older than The Boy, from moms who are seeing success and have walked away from patterns laid down by their families of origin has been a huge source of encouragement to me!
So far, so good…
The Boy is 7 now. He’s quirky and funny and brilliant and challenging and so very, very BOY. And I am seeing the benefits of what we’re doing with him – he’s not perfect, either, as much as my Mama-brain perceives him that way 😉 But outside evidence points to him being polite, considerate, empathetic, and intelligent. We’ve always encouraged him to use his imagination, to reason things out for himself – not that truth isn’t knowable, but we don’t want him to take our word for it. We help him dig for answers, we talk with him and give him everything he needs to research and explore and develop into the person he needs to become (and what a wonderful person that will be, I’m sure! …yeah, yeah, I know – enough proud mama gushing….)
Which brings me to my point…
Sometimes, though, he manages to totally baffle me. Usually I can follow along with his mind – I suspect he’s very highly skewed toward NF on the MBTI, and as an iNFP I can certainly relate to that! He’ll make leaps of logic and conversational jumps that most of the time I can track, or at least look back and see how he arrived there. But this morning? He completely befuddled me. He came in to wake me up, and reached out and hugged me and said “Oh Mom, I love you so much! I need a hug like vinegar and sausage!”
Yes, the look on your face probably mirrors mine about now!
“Ok, sweetie, you lost me. What exactly do you mean by THAT one?!”
“It’s like how vinegar is nasty and tastes bad and it stinks – when my love tank is low that’s how I feel. But sausage is warm and yummy and makes you feel good inside, and that’s how hugs from my Mom make me feel. So I need a hug like vinegar and sausage!”
Yes, I melted and I gave him several really big hugs, until he no longer felt like vinegar inside 🙂
And a little more of my anxiety about parenting him melted away along with it…knowing that I am not a source of fear for him, that he finds security and happiness in my presence, that he has no reason to flinch away from me when I raise my hand but instead only equates an outstretched hand with comfort and love…I’m even more confident now. When he’s all grown up, I intend to tell him how being blessed to raise him has been like vinegar and sausage for me, too. There are a lot of wounds from my past that have found healing and restoration in being able to offer him something different.
The Bible calls it “the oil of joy for mourning“. My son calls it “like vinegar and sausage”. Whatever it is, it brings peace…and I’m overwhelmingly grateful for the chance to experience it with and offer it to The Boy.