I have hesitated to write stories about being a mom. The blog-o-sphere is overpopulated with stories of the terrors and joys of mommy-dom and I haven’t been inspired to add to them. Even though every situation is unique, we are all young women with small people in our houses. Many of our stories are the same and I have wanted to wait for a unique situation to write about. The other day, that moment came.
I was making one of my favorite dinners and had run out of baby food. I thought that it was about time that my almost one year old Jake started having dinner like a normal person. Even if this particular normal person needs his food ground up and fed to him with a tiny spoon. I got out my baby food processor, dumped a bit of my shepherd’s pie into it, ground it up feeling rather proud and momentous, sat down with my little guy to feed him his very first grown up dinner.
Things did not go as planned. Jake took his first bite and immediately started quivering. I know that Jake doesn’t like anything but pears and sometimes applesauce, so it wasn’t surprising that shepherd’s pie wasn’t a huge hit. Not only was it not a huge hit, Jake started acting like I was poisoning him. He cried, whined, gagged, rolled his eyes, smacked my hand away from his face and somehow, managed to turn his torso all the way around in his high chair to get away from his food. Houdini himself would have been proud! But, since I have a rule that if I offer Jake something, he has to eat it, I took him out of his chair and tried again. I’d like to say it worked and he ate, but I eventually ended up sitting cross legged on the floor with his upper body pinned to my chest. Just like the little baby ninja that he is, he took advantage of a momentary weakness and managed, in one giant flail, to get an arm free. He looked up, right into my eyes, stuck his entire hand down his throat and threw up all over my pants. At that moment, some other force took over my body. I put the dinner down and picked him up so that we were eye to eye, looked into his little barf covered face and said with teeth clenched, “Mama always wins”.
Mama was going to win that night, so I cleaned us both up as best as I could with a damp paper towel, sat him back down and with tears streaming down both of our cheeks, fed him exactly 15 bites of shepherd’s pie. When we were done with the whole mess, I changed my clothes, gave him a bath, wrapped him in a blanket and rocked him for a while, held tight to my heart. I rubbed his little tear stained cheeks and told him how much I loved him. I told him again and again “Mama always wins….she HAS to, little love. No matter how stubborn you are, God gave you a mama who is even more stubborn.” Jake eventually went limp in my arms and as I laid him down in his crib, still sniffling a little in his sleep, my eyes welled up in tears of my own. I realized that in that tiny battle won I had probably shown more love to my son than in a hundred kisses and laughs.
I love Jake so much and I know that in his first few years of life much of who he will is solidified. Our relationship is being established now, even before conversation between us is possible. The battle of wills fought now will hopefully mean that when it really matters, it won’t be a fight. When I tell him to hurry to me, he will, without question and that could save his life. I want him to stop at the edge of a road when I tell him to, even if he can’t see the huge truck coming around the corner. When I tell him to drop his toy and come out of the yard, he will, even if he doesn’t see the rattler snake curving through the grass a few feet away.
There will be battles that I won’t win. Battles I can’t even fight for him. I won’t be able to stop the bad slide into second that fractures his leg. I won’t be able to catch him when he falls out of a tree. I can’t prevent his first love from breaking his heart. I won’t be able to cure him of the many illnesses his little body will contract. I won’t be able to stop other kids from being mean to him.
But there are other ways I CAN win. I can win on my knees in prayer for him. I can win by being the one that he turns to when his heart does break, the hands that hold his when the doctor is setting is broken bones. I have already won over my desire to run when the nurse plunged an IV needle into his arm and was the one to hold him when he cried out in pain. Even though I was covered in his blood, I won out over my nausea and heart clenching fear and was the one to sing him into a quiet sleep. I can win over my own heartaches and fears by surrendering them to the Lord, so that I am freed up to be an honest and loving mama.
When I’m discouraged and having a day where all I say is “no, Jake” and comfort the ensuing tears, I remind myself of the battles we have conquered already. He doesn’t chew on cords anymore. He doesn’t smack the dogs as much. I am starting to be able to wear earrings again without fear of him pulling them out of my ears entirely. He is learning that if he plays with my cell phone or my computer, his little hand will get a firm smacking. He doesn’t scream at having to wear pants every time we go somewhere. He’s even getting much better about eating things!
The sweet part of winning the hard battles is that Jake knows my laugh, my smile, my “woohoo!” when he does something right or stops doing something wrong. He knows that my arms are always there for him, my forehead is always there to bonk with his own, my face is always there for his little hands to touch, my chest is always there to snuggle into. He knows that when he drifts off to sleep, it will be my heartbeat and my voice humming our song that he hears.
I’m sorry that I feel like this story is unique enough to write about. I wish more mamas out there had the desire to fight and win the battles for their children. So, if this ever gets to the computer of another mama, I would like to say to her to fight the battles. Win the wars. Love your children enough to tell them “no”. Be the kind of mama that always wins. Even though it’s tiring and hard in the moment and even makes you a little crazy, it’s so worth it!
And Jake, we’re having Shepherd’s Pie for dinner.