There was a time when I was in the thick of it. When I couldn't have written a coherent thought. That was when my two oldest (who are just 16 months apart) were little. I remember keeping my head down, not meeting the eyes of others in public, not wanting to see what I was sure was a judgemental gaze.
I was a new mom, surprised by births of two boys so close together. I often carried one on each hip and got interesting comments about my giant double stroller. A man once stopped me in Costco to explain the benefits of spanking to me. I seriously considered smacking him, especially because on that day, the boys were actually behaving.
I was in survival mode, as mothers of multiples under the age of five are. I was making it through and trying to absorb joy in them where I could. But, then there was the age of three; the age that nearly broke me. It was only one of them, my own particular little tornado, who I will not name.
I share this because I have perspective now. I'm not in the thick of it. And I can't count how many times mothers have come to me in tears about their boys at the age of three, certain their child is a maniac and will someday be calling them from a jail cell.
We shall call him Tornado and I will tell you what he was like just to assure you that your own little tornado will turn out just fine.
Tornado bit everyone in his family- me, his dad, his brother, his cousins, his grandparents. This nearly killed me every time it happened.
Tornado took my sister's small dog and spun him around by the tail. This is when I was certain that his cruelty to animals was a signal that he would become a criminal.
Tornado told our pastor's wife that he was going to cut her. By this point, I think I have a serial killer on my hands.
Tornado refused to look me in the eye. Oh my gosh, what have I created?
Tornado was wild in preschool and I remember comments from other teasing parents that he might blow up the school. I laughed at these comments, agreeing.
These are the harshest examples I could think of. The ones that have the most impact. But, let me now tell you what I was doing during all of this.
I was praying for him. Self control, kindness, self control, compassion, self control, love.
And I was talking to him. Sitting him down for as long as it would take for him to look me in eye, tell me what he had done and how he could make a better choice next time. This would sometimes take over an hour because he could never meet my eyes and say the words.
My mantra- Choose what is good. Do what is right.
And I was crying when I was alone, certain I was a failure. I was yelling at him in moments when I couldn't take it anymore. I was learning that you can't fight a tornado with a tornado. He needed an example of the right way to behave, not a larger version of himself coming back at him. I knew that under that strong will was a leader who needed to know which way to lead.
And here is the hope I offer. This same child has the kindest heart I know. He loves his friends, sees people in need and must help them, has had more than one teacher comment to me that they wish he could be cloned. He has a heart for special needs kids. He is a leader.
So labor over them. Hope for them. Because if you don't fight for them, nobody will. If you don't believe in them, how will anyone else?
If you know a mom who would be encouraged by this, please share it.