Mommy Failure

Today started out just like so many morning seem to start off anymore.  Max moving slow, if at all.  No initiative to get dressed for the day.  Complaints about having to go to school.  Complaints about having to get up early, forgetting the fact that he woke up early on both Saturday and Sunday all on his own.  Reminders to put on deodorant and brush his teeth.  Did you put your keys in your book bag?  Did you put on your deodorant.  Go brush your teeth…and then the big question.  Max, what are you planning to do this week to bring up your grades by the end of this week?

Pause for a flashback.

Max has always struggled with school.  Every year I have been on speed dial with his teachers.  They all look to me to tell them how to handle my son so that he doesn’t have melt downs and so that he focuses on the task at hand rather than being a distraction to the rest of the class.  Unfortunately I don’t feel I am of much help in this area.  I deal with him one on one with no other children present.

Kindergarten was rough.  Max was a very active little boy who didn’t like to sit still.  However, after two years of preschool I thought he was at least prepared for what was to come with school and that he would be able to cope.  fidget, yes, but cope with doing as he is told and function like any other normal, healthy little boy.

First and second grade continued to contain the conversations about how they just can’t seem to get my son to focus, but he is very smart and he will grow out of this eventually.  By third and fourth grade the teachers were telling me that he was very smart, but that he was slow in maturing behaviorally, however, at no point was he tested for anything, it was still more or less chalked up to he will eventually grow out of it.

Fifth grade marks the first year that there was a failing grade on the report card for one class in one semester.  I didn’t really hear from any teachers last year, but did keep in contact with the teacher that Max had received the failing grade from.  While none of Max’s grades were outstanding, for the rest of the year he managed to C’s and B’s, and a occasional A.

Then there is this year.  Max is at a new school as we moved over the summer.  Within the first week of school I was contacted and asked if he could be placed into Title I for Language Arts.  They  wanted to try to ensure that he was getting settled into the new school and to help him to once and for all learn how to get himself organized in order to be able to succeed in school.

First nine weeks produced many conversations with the Title I teacher, as well as two conferences with all of his teachers and multiple telephone calls.

His grades are atrocious.

He is defiant.

He is choosing to not do work.

He is having melt downs regularly during class.

This past weekend brought home progress reports for the second nine weeks, and Max’s was not good.  I knew this before I ever saw the report on Friday, and had already made arrangements with the guidance counselor to send home another progress report at the end of this week.  The purpose was to give Max a chance to bring two of those grades up.  The guidance counselor feels that it is reasonable to do over this next week.

Once again the Max and I talk about his grades.   I tell him he has one week to make a reasonable effort that we can see or lose electronics over Christmas break.  I try to impress on the boy who doesn’t like school the importance of doing the work and passing as opposed to choosing to only do what he wants and risk the consequences of failing and prolonging his school years.

Fast forward back to this morning:

As Max is eating his breakfast and I am signing his  folder that goes back I asked him what he thinks would be a good plan for working on his grades this week.  Answer?  “I don’t know.”  This was followed up by something to the effect of it doesn’t matter what he does because his teachers don’t like him and will give him bad grades just because.

HE IS A VICTIM!!!!!  Silly me!  What was I thinking?

At this point, I am very ashamed to say, psycho Mom arrived for breakfast.    I said many things that even as they were coming out of my mouth I regretted.  In the midst of it all, I am hoping that my defiant, victim of a little man got the message that his poor grades are the direct results of his choices to not complete work or to not follow the directions and complete the work as assigned.  Not because his teachers don’t like him.  Which based on all of my face time with his teachers couldn’t be further from the truth.

And now I am just left sitting here wondering at what point did I mess up as his mother?

At what point did my parenting allow for him to become this defiant little person who only does what he wants to do?

Much more importantly, how do I fix it?  How do I teach him not to see himself as a constant victim?  How do I instill in him that he needs to be responsible for himself and that he has to accept the results of his choices?

That he needs to put on deodorant EVERY DAY.

This motherhood thing has always been scary, but right now it has me terrified.  We have done the whole school thing for seven years at this point.  When does the maturity finally kick in?  When does the struggle ever end?

Even more important than that how do I find the patience to deal with this trying little boy who is struggling to grow up?  He seems so isolated and alone.  Where are the good friends that I keep praying for to appear in his life?

Max is an incredibly intelligent and funny little man with a GIANORMOUS heart.  He is so incredibly sensitive.  It is killing this mother’s heart of mine to watch him struggling to make friends and to find his place.

And I am praying.  Fervently.  Constantly.

For wisdom.

For patience.

For guidance.

For comfort.

For peace.

Loving Father,  keep this precious little soul that you have gifted me with safe.  You have placed this little man in my care, Father, equip me to be the mother he needs.  Give me the wisdom to know how to speak with him both to encourage and to teach.  My soul cries out for patience with him.  Help me to find calm and still the angry and harsh words that are all to quick to fly out of my mouth like darts at my poor hurting boy.  Guide my thoughts and heart Lord, as we continue to raise this child up to know you and your ways.  Bring me comfort as I despair for him.  You know his heart Lord.  Be a balm of comfort there.  Help me to be the peaceful presence in our home as opposed to the whirling tornado of emotions that seems to be me most days.  Father, I know that ultimately he is in your loving care.  In Jesus loving name I pray, Amen.

I really don’t have any answers.  Motherhood has been my greatest joy and toughest assignment.  I am not used to not doing something well.  The outcome of this assignment is monumental.  My precious boy and his future are what is at stake.  I can’t be a failure at this.  So, this mother’s heart will continue to pray and cry out to Yahweh.  My trust is in the Lord.

I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
    and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
 Let your steadfast love become my comfort
    according to your promise to your servant.
 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
    for your law is my delight.

Psalm 119: 75-77 (NRSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stressed by the Happiest Place on Earth

For several years now I have been promising Mr. Max that we would go to Disney World.  I thought we would be able to pull it off and a few years back I began the process of planning our dream vacation to the Magic Kingdom.  Then life happened and our finances that have always been spread pretty thin were pushed to their limits and I had to tell Max that our trip just wouldn’t be possible yet.

Fast forward to this past spring.  I received a bonus for a job well done at work and thought at last our time had come!  I once again began to look into planning a dream vacation, but it came to a screeching halt when I realize that the cost for the total trip package had gone up by about $1000!  There was no way I could justify that!  It would take the entire bonus and a whole lot more.

I accepted the fact that we just might not ever have the means necessary to ever go to Disney World.  I wrestled with guilt and self-loathing.  How could we not afford this, just one time?  My husband and I both work full-time jobs and try very hard to live within our means.  Frustration set in as the cost of living, groceries, and gas continued to go up but our pay increases just can’t keep up.

I took stock of our situation, realized we are better off than a lot of people, and in the same boat as many other people. Our circumstances are not unique.   So I pulled myself up out of the depths of despair (thank you very much for that fantastic phrase Anne of Green Gables) and gave thanks and praise for the good times we do get to enjoy together as a family closer to home.

All of a sudden out of the clear blue sky my boss offered me the chance to attend a conference for work in November of this year.  Any guesses where the conference would be taking place?  That’s right, Orlando, Florida at the Disney World Resort!  Best of all, I could bring my bring my family along and they could share my room with me.  While I am in sessions all day, Max will get to enjoy the magic with his Dad.  I will get to join them in the evenings.

It is the opportunity of a lifetime.  Never again will we have the opportunity to go to Disney World and not have to pay for lodging.  Many people have affirmed our decision to take the husband and Max with me, and have told us that there is no way we could pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity.

However;

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH IS STRESSING ME OUT TO THE MAX!!!!!!!!! (No pun intended!)

We are discovering that even with the advantage of having some of the costs covered because it is a business trip, the remaining costs are mounting rapidly;  plane fare, park tickets, dog kennelling, dog vaccinations updated so they can go to the kennel. Then  there are the anticipated expenses to come; tolls, airport parking, meals for the husband and Max, and any souvenirs.  Everything added together will take care of maxing out my one small credit card.

Is it worth all this stress?  Am I the only soul on planet Earth that is feeling sick and incredibly worried about how to make this trip happen and take care of all of the extra expenses and still manage to pay the bills on time? In the back of my mind are looming the upcoming expenses of putting heating oil in the tank and Christmas that is just around the corner.

Does anyone else feel like this before a vacation?  Why are we as parents willing to go to such great lengths to create these special memories for our children?  Am I nuts to go through with this?  Right, wrong, or indifferent I am hoping for the best.  Hoping that my heavenly father will take pity on me and my stupidity and help me pull this off.  Even if that means we are having roman noodles for dinner every night in November not spent at Walt Disney World.

Even if we struggle for a few months, the time spent together will be worth it.  It really, truly is a one time thing, and we will treasure the memories always.  Right?

 

Letting Boys Play Like Boys With No More Apologies

“Pixie Momma, Max held down Suzie and wouldn’t let her go.”  Immediately my stomach feels sick and I begin to worry about what Suzie’s mother will say, think, or do when she hears that Max held Suzie down.   Measures to repair the damage, imagined or otherwise, are at the top of my priority list.  I thank Sally for letting me know, make Max apologize to Suzie,  and begin with a lecture to Max that lasted as we exited the church building to go to our car, continued the entire way home, was followed up with questions pertaining to why he can’t seem to play well with others (most of whom are girls in our church setting), ending with my disappointment in him for this unacceptable behavior.  This sounds like a tame scene, but there was definitely no calmness, patience or grace in my discussion with my son and the decibel got pretty loud as the conversation went on and on.  At one point my head may have actually been spinning as I levitated.   Never once did it occur to me to inquire into the situation further about the actual circumstances of what led up to Max holding Suzie down before embarking on what felt like my duty as his mother to correct the situation FAST.

This situation really happened after a recent church service, but I have changed the names of the girls.  My intent was to prove to the girls and the girls’ parents that I would not tolerate my son being a bully to the girls I guess, because I am afraid of being called a bad mother who is raising a horrible son.  Very soon after the conversation above took place the emotions settled down and the bile disappeared, relieving the feelings that I was about to be sick caused by the fear of the impending  judgement by another mother. I dreaded that she would find my parenting skills lacking.  I resumed the conversation with my son to finally hear his side of the story, which is what I should have done in the first place while Sally was standing there doing her telling.  Turns out that the girls, most of whom are older than Max by a year or two, had taken his shoe and were refusing to give it back to him, making him chase them for it.  He was chasing them because prior to the girls deciding to take his shoe and torment him with it, I, his mother, had told him to gather his stuff (it tends to get spread out around the church over the course of the morning) because we were getting ready to go home.   So when asking for his shoe did not render its return to him, he took matters into his own hands and played the game that the girls initiated.  He chased Suzie till he caught her and didn’t let go until he had his shoe because he was fearing the wraith of keeping his mother waiting.

Why Sally felt the need to tattle on Max I don’t know, but I do know that it isn’t the first time, and it will most likely not be the last.  I need to relearn how to handle these situations.   Instead of assuming Max is guilty as charged I need to gather all of the facts about what the circumstances are.  After finding out all of the facts this time, I apologized for not getting the whole story right at the start, but reiterated to Max that he was wrong to hold down Suzie.  If she wouldn’t give him back his shoe, and he couldn’t find a way to reason with her, then he needed to find an adult to mediate the situation.  All this time later I still feel guilty about how I handled this situation.  Especially since I know something similar has probably happened in the past often and I didn’t get the whole story ever, and it will possibly happen again in the future.  I am determined to change my response the next time.

I ran across a post from blogger Momma Erin over at Christian Momma’s Guide tonight that brought this memory back to me and I realized with startling clarity that I have been doing a HUGE disservice to my son as a result of my insecurity as a mother.  The post is titled I’m Worried For Our Girls and the link is below.  She is talking more about how mothers responded to girls who are tattling, and emphasises that we need to raise strong girls that are able to compromise with the boys they share this earth with.  I am going to take that one step further here.  As the mother of a growing boy, I need to stop allowing others to make me feel shame when my son is playing or reacting like a normal, healthy boy.  Momma Erin shares a story about a mother at a jumping park ( i assume a bouncy house kind of place) who was shamed and embarrassed when told to make her boys play elsewhere because they were disturbing some girls that were also playing in the same area.   I have been that shamed mother more times than I can count.  It is a horrible place to be!  Our children learn by our examples, we need to support each other as mothers and teach our children the spirit of kindness and compassion as well as the skills to compromise.

So it will be my goal as Max’s mom to no longer engage in this behavior that is destructive to his self-esteem and a disservice to the girls we encounter by allowing them to tattle and win rather than learn how to share public spaces with all, both boys and girls.

Loving God, help me to show the grace and patience you show to me to my precious son.  When situations arise grant me the wisdom to control my emotions until I have the full story and can then respond appropriately.   Teach me how to encourage and uplift other mothers and not judge them in any way.  Help me to foster an attitude of love for all, and help me to forgive myself when I fail.  In Jesus name I pray, amen.

 

I’m Worried For Our Girls – Christian Momma’s Guide

 

 

 

A Letter to My Son: Embarking on the Middle School Journey

Dear Bouncing Baby Bugga Boy-o,

I doubt you will allow me to call you that for much longer, but for the moment I can still get away with it.  It seems like just yesterday I was holding you, our baby moose,  for the very first time, but today you started on a new phase in your young life.  Today you started middle school!   Let’s hope that you handle the twists and turns along this new path with as much dexterity  and adaptability as effortlessly as you coped with the surprise start to the school year this morning because your silly mother somehow mixed up the date of back to school.

Not many years ago you were a cuddly little boy who filled my life with hugs and little boy kisses.  Your little laugh that could turn my bad day into a great day in an instant!  I will cherish those early years we were blessed to share with you forever, but I can’t stop the hands of time. The cuddly little boy is quickly turning into a handsome young man.  You have been and will continue to grow despite my instructions that you stop right now before you pass me up in height!

Although we have hit the occasional storm, I am SO proud of the boy you have become!  Your creativity never ceases to amaze me!   Your mind comes up with ideas and you find a way to bring those ideas to life.  Many strange and wonderful creatures have been constructed out of corn dog sticks, soap pumps, and paper towel rolls.  Many more cards have been created out of index cards and scraps of notebook paper that turn into imaginary dueling games, illustrated by your hands.  Harness your creativity my dear boy!  It is an incredible gift from God!

Caring and sensitive  are the next characteristics that come to mind as something else you have in spades.  A great big heart for others beats in your chest.  A gentle giant with younger children, you are a leader that seeks to include everyone.  A wish to make people happy motivates you to reach out to cheer up those who are sad.  I have seen your heart-break for the animals on tv that flash across the tv screen before I can change the channel because we can’t stand to see the poor animals’ sad eyes staring at us in our living room.   Over the years many teachers have complimented you on your large heart that has reached out to the children with problems or on the margins of the class to show them friendship and inclusion.  Loving hearts like yours can be easily wounded, my prayer is that you never lose your large capacity for love and that it inspire you to do great things to help humanity!

Another characteristic that comes to mind  for you my son is curiosity.  You are always trying to figure out how something works, or “evolve” something to make it better.  I often can see the wheels turning in your head as you break something down to process how it all works together.  You seek to improve things to make good things even better.  You soak up the information gleaned from Myth Busters and Animal Planet.  Let me offer a word of encouragement to you in this area:  never let lack of opportunity stop you from pursuing something that interest you.   A formal education is only one way to learn, but there is a whole world of knowledge out there available at your fingertips.  Seek and you will find ways to learn, regardless of where you are in life.

Finally, my Sunshine Boy, I pray that you will always let God be your guide.  He has very great and very specific plans tailored just for you!   Always give him praise and thanks, and listen for his voice.  As much as I love you, he loves you that much more!  It’s true!  Let your faith continue to grow, you will need that firm foundation to survive in this fallen and broken world.  May He shield you from as much sadness as possible.  I would like to tell you that everything will fall into place, but I just can’t promise you that.  Life is a difficult struggle.  There is so much that will make absolutely no sense to you.  Cling to God in your moments of uncertainty, insanity, and anxiety.  Always let your light shine where ever you are.   Never let that light go out!  Stand strong when temptation comes your way.  Daddy and I will always be here for you, and so will your Father in Heaven.  Let us share the load with you.  Life isn’t easy, but there is always joy and we will always be there for you.  Look for the joy and peace that comes from a deep relationship with God.  Enjoy this journey!

With all my love,

Your pixie momma

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