Friday, November 21, 2008

Picking My Battles


I struggle daily on my journey in parenting my son Benjamin. He is a five year-old little boy whose personality is larger than life, and whose anger, sometimes, is beyond the strength of my will. Of all my children, he is probably most like me, which may be the gun powder at the root of our mother/child relationship. There hasn't been a day, in the last five years, that his very existence has not wiped me out, exhausted me to my core. I love him with every breath I take, but some days, or maybe just some moments of every day, I don't like him- I don't feel like being around him. He sucks the very soul out of my being and yet, because he is my son, I wake up to each morning with the hope that I can be better at knowing him- at understanding how to meet his needs while respecting my own.

Lately I have made a concerted effort to pick my battles with Ben. Were I less conscientious about my role as a guide in his life, we would be at each other's throat nearly every minute. He presses every one of my buttons with a vengeance, making me feel crazy and completely insecure. I have discovered that I must chose the times where I must say "no" to his whims, when his impulses pose danger to him or someone else, or when his behavior threatens our safety or the safety of our environment. There are other times, when I am tempted to restrict his desires to what I believe rest in the "normal" range of human experience, but which don't have a basis in reason- like when he insists on wearing his "Incredibles" costume, which is two sizes two small, for three days in a row, everywhere we go. Or when I just want some peace and quiet and he wants to play the same song on the stereo at least ten times in a row. Or when he shows up in my bed at two a.m. EVERY NIGHT, insisting that he have an aw-wum (arm) to lay on- and I want to lay on my side-ALONE....

To the outside world, Ben is a cute kindergartner, who has dimples the size of Texas and a smile that would knock you over in a second. To the outside world, Ben is a typical boy being a typical boy. But to me, he is a reflection of everything that I find difficult about myself and, perhaps, all that I don't want to deal with at the moment. Ben is my son- and I love him, so today I tried to let him be the best of himself and I said "yes" to basketball and dodge ball and the dirty super-hero suit. Those things I could do for him, and in his world, that means he can thrive. And in my world, it means that I had a morning without strife.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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