As many mistakes as I've made as a parent, I've always felt good knowing that since the moment our son was born I have been right here. Not just physically, but in every single awestruck way.
For some reason it has been my passion that I would not miss one bit of this time I have with Ezekiel.
I've always felt that I will get back my days of freedom to run around, fulfill other dreams, travel, and career for myself...
but this is my one little guy.
This is my once in a lifetime chance with him.
As flawed as I can be at the many facets of parenting, I can say surely that have given Motherhood everything I've got.
That's what makes this next part so hard.
This weekend, my son and I set out intentionally to take his photograph for the first time in over six months.
Yesterday morning, Mothers' Day, I downloaded the photos off my camera.
As I went through each picture I learned a lot about my son, myself, how I've been approaching our relationship and even how I've been spending my time lately.
The lesson stung.
The last time I took Zeek's photos, just six months ago, I knew him through and through. In each photo I recognized his every look, smirk, twinkle, gaze... nothing was unfamiliar or new to me.
So when I looked at the photographs I took this weekend and I didn't fully recognize the little boy in those pictures, my heart ached.
It hurt that I was seeing him, who is right in front of me everyday, a little better through his still frames.
It hurt most of all to be enlightened through some of the looks on his face, the revealing in his eyes, to some of the ways I've been letting him down lately.
I reflected back on our session, recalling some of my harsh words toward him;
"you can squat down like a big boy or you can sit like a baby, whatever you're more comfortable with... This is an empty farm yard, Zeek. No one lives here. There are no animals left to worry about!...I don't know why you can't just stand behind that door and peek out? COME ON. put your arms down, that looks silly... you're face looks like this right now, do you really think that's going to make a good photograph?..."
Yes, I am crying and humiliated to be writing this.
Yes, I hate myself for putting stupid things before my son, like photographs, and what I want, and how I want it.
I'm so grateful to God for using these pictures and the early Mothers' Day morning hours to shed light on the direction my Motherhood and relationship with my son was headed.
I'm saddened but grateful to have seen this weekend:
that as independent, smart, and sure as he's becoming,
he's still very young and has a lot of growing up to do,
that as scared and unsure as I am about my abilities to parent such a child,
I'm still his one and only Mom,
that although I experience and respond to his million questions,
he is deep and full with another set of secret questions,
questions that aren't being asked out loud.
These hidden questions are about himself.
Like, is he worthy?
Is he strong?
Is he good enough?
Can he measure up?
Is he okay?
And I realized that I have not been answering these special questions very well -with my high expectations, sarcasm and the manipulation of my reverse psychology.
I assumed he KNEW how incredible he is. He acts like he knows.
I'd worn out of better ideas and thrown in the towel, and I didn't even know it.
I'd decided that a boy who could have this kind of attitude, this lip, this kind of ungrateful gumption needed a heavy parent.
I started sternly laying down the law, saying yes or no, period.
I stopped listening to his debates and arguments, and reverted to "because I said so" and "that is that."
I was acting out of fear that I would otherwise be failing him to let him stomp about, an only child, making all the decisions for himself, fighting tooth and nail for every right he has and doesn't have.
I thought he would never grow up to be a good man if someone didn't push him away from his toggling between bully and princess (please hold the hate mail- I know that's ignorant -I'm just being honest)
On Mother's Day Sunday, when I realized I didn't know my fast growing son in my latest photographs of him, I knew God was giving me a heads-up. It knew that it was time to make some changes.
So, I put down the armor, hard parenting, tough love, and pushing, and I showed up for the day just being his loving Mom, again. Period.
The gifts that followed filled my Mothers Day with light, life, tears of joy, gentleness, kindness, peace... starting to sound familiar?
As I spent time with him, really looking into him and tending to him, I watched the little glimpses of awesome treasure in my son's character slowly peek out as he began to trust me with himself more and more.
I would have never thought that I could put on a superficial parent-front with him, during which time I daily remembered my gratitude for him but began to completely miss the boat on the moment to moment becoming of the boy, himself.
With God's Grace, my son's resilience, and this new lesson in my pocket, I am moving forward to rebuild this relationship between he and I. To take back the perspective that there is a little person happening here right before my eyes. I pray that I will further understand that just watching and pushing isn't going to be enough.
I need to love, look and see.
This is the only time we will be together this way.
God, please do not let me lose sight!