I am THAT Mama

I wanted to be real with women and other mamas about the struggles I faced in life but there were just some things that I was too embarrassed (ahem…prideful) to speak about. I was the coordinator for women’s bible study at my church and I was also leading a small group. Our lesson one week was on speaking truth to your issues. Heavens knows that I had plenty of issues that needed some truth-speaking.

I had a three year old at that time who was in a difficult phase. He had a new baby sister, he was in preschool three mornings a week, and he was a biter! Oh yes, a biter!! And in preschool world this is like the holy grail of No-No’s. 

Pushing and shoving would have been great. It's expected and forgiven.

Being a tattle tell. Yep I can deal with that. 

Not sharing. Sure all kids have a tough time with this. 

Throwing dirt or pulling someone’s pigtail would have seemed like an upgrade compared to biting. 

I was seriously going crazy because I could not figure out where I had missed the mark that made this child think biting was a good coping skill. 

I nursed this kid through the first 14 months of his life! I stayed at home with him. I read books to him every day. I would lie with him at nap time and rub his back. I took him to playdates, parks, and picnics. I let him help me cook. We did arts and crafts. We sang silly songs. We played soccer and baseball in the front yard. We had memberships to the library, the Children's Museum, the Zoo, and the Science Center for heaven's sake. 

His dad and I loved each other. We had and still have a happy marriage. We were not high tempered and while we did raise our voice when trying to get a point across we were definitely not angry people. 

I mean, I cannot even begin to tell you how frustrated and embarrassed I was about this behavior despite my pleadings, discipline, consequences, reward system, reasoning, and outright bribery to get through his head that this behavior had to stop immediately. 

Yeah right. Have you ever tried to reason with a three-year old? 

So I just kept this embarrassing secret to myself because I was convinced that his bad behavior was a direct reflection of my terribly inept parenting skills and I was so frustrated that I could not figure out a way to help him. 

One afternoon after class I was walking down the hallway with a girl from my bible study. As we walked she thanked me for leading the class and told me how much she enjoyed it. We both stopped in front of the door where our children had been in class together. 

As her little boy came out, he gave his mommy a hug and then whimpering said, “He bit me!” 

“Who bit you honey?” his kind, loving, and obviously wonderful mother said to him. 

On cue, my little guy walks sheepishly to the door just as her son points towards my son. “Him!” 

Oh. No. He. Didn’t. 

I was dying inside. In that moment I went from good bible study leader to the mom with the kid who bites. The secret was out and even worse her child had been hurt. Yep I was THAT mom. And just like that my game was up. I was not the mom with all the answers. I struggled with my kids too. My children made bad choices despite trying to be a good balanced parent with discipline. 

I apologized profusely. I told her that we had been working really hard at home on curbing this behavior, and that I was so sorry that he had hurt her son. I also made my little guy apologize to her son right then and there. I felt so ashamed, humiliated, and frustrated. 

And you know what she said? “Oh my goodness no worries, I had a daughter who bit other kids when she was younger and I know exactly how this feels. Thankfully it was just a phase and she outgrew it. I’m sure he will too.” 

I was dumbfounded and genuinely humbled. The grace and kindness she showed me along with the nonchalant attitude that it was just a phase was amazing. She didn't blame me for being a terrible mother, she didn't denunciate me for not disciplining my kid, matter of fact, there was no accusatory tone in her voice at all. And in that moment, standing there in the hallway of preschoolers I thanked her for being so gracious and understanding to me and for telling me about her own daughter. I had a sliver of hope that my son would one day too outgrow this phase. And I realized that so much of parenting is just navigating a series of phases until you reach the next one. 

Whatever phase you find yourself or your children in feels like forever. 

When I nursed my babies every 3 hours around the clock I felt like it would never end. And just like that it did. 

When potty training was really difficult and I was convinced that I would have the only child in Kindergarten still in diapers they suddenly got it and the battle was over. 

When my first born was obsessed over Barney and Friends I was pretty sure I was going to lose my sanity if I heard one more stupid song about sharing and caring. But now he loves to watch football with his dad and he thinks Barney is the most ridiculous thing in the world. I mean how did we move from there to here when the phases feel so long. 

It's great to have the courage and bravery to share your struggles with other moms Try to set the tone by saying, "I'm not sure you'll even understand this but I really need to share this with someone." Maybe they'll judge, but maybe they'll understand. Maybe they won't get exactly what you are going through, but maybe they'll have another story for you that gives you hope for the future. Maybe they'll look at you and say, "I can't believe you said that. I've felt the exact same way and dealt with the exact same thing." 

On the way home from church that day the Lord pricked my heart and reminded me that pride had gotten in the way of sharing a struggle with other women who could have encouraged me. And sometimes a little dose humility is exactly what I need in order to move from shame to grace. 

I’m doing my very best yet my children are still going to make mistakes and that’s okay. God, as our perfect parent, still has children that make a lot of mistakes too. It is no reflection on Him. It’s just an opportunity for Him to scoop us up, offer us forgiveness, and give us grace and love as He points us back in the right direction. 

Sometimes I have to learn a lesson by going on the field trip. It's a painful journey at the time but sometimes it's necessary so that God can reveal Himself to me as my heavenly Father and let me see myself through the eyes of my own children. 

By the way, it was a phase and I am happy to report my little fellow has grown and matured. He’s no longer the kid who bites and he is getting along much better in school this year and with his friends. 

What phase of life are you struggling with right now? Be encouraged mama... this too will pass!! 

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