Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Secrets: Sometimes Love Wins

My son bought me lunch yesterday. 

This is the third time in two months that I’ve picked him up from work and been handed a Subway sandwich and a cold drink.  He always remembers the straw, and he always hands me the bag with just a hint of bashfulness and pride written on his face.

I always take his offering, and I eat every bite and drink every sip. Whether I am hungry or not. Whether my lupus has made me sick again or not. I eat that sandwich, and I drink that drink, and I thank him sincerely for the gift because, really, his thoughtfulness means the world to me.

Because, that sandwich? It’s a symbol of how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned. It is a symbol of love that persists even as it is challenged and changed. It is a statement, and it says -Sometimes, love wins.

Seth was a darling baby and an adorable little boy. Everyone who met him loved him.  He had (and has) the greatest smile, the cutest dimples, the bluest eyes.

The  strongest will.

We fought epic battles, the two of us.

He threw screaming tantrums over simple requests (Like – Please, pick up your toys). He slammed doors. Kicked walls. Threw toys with so much passion they dented walls. I constantly felt as if I were in a war I was destined to lose.  I was that mother. You know the one – standing in the grocery store, her kid lying on the floor, screaming his head off.

Things were so bad that my kids’ pediatrician – after seeing Seth throw a raging tantrum in her office – asked if I wanted a referral to a behavioral psychologist. 

He was four.

I was tired.

I’d been in the midst of this battle since the day he’d kicked me in Target because I’d refused to give him a toy. I’d said, “If you kick me again, I’m going to take off your shoes (the ones he loved, the ones he always insisted on wearing).” 

He looked me square in the eye, pulled off a shoe and tossed it as far as  his ten-month old arms could manage.

Ten months old.

Wrap you minds around that.

I couldn’t, and I’d lived it.

So, by the time the pediatrician suggested a behavioral psychologist, I was tired. I’d been loving this kid and battling this kid for three years. There seemed to be no end in sight.  I would lie awake at night, imagining my little boy as a grown man with a raging temper and a desperate need to be in control. It terrified me.  How would it feel to have a fourteen or fifteen or sixteen-year-old kid screaming and slamming doors and punching walls and throwing things?

I wanted a quick fix, an easy answer. I wanted all the seeds I'd planted to sprout into a child who could love and be loved. 

Instead, I had a raging, shrieking, shouting child who, at the ripe old age of 4, might need a psychologist. 

I looked at my son, the one with the red hair and the cute smile and the bluest-of-blue eyes, and I could see that he was absolutely in control of himself. He never hurt anyone. He didn't hit, bite, spit, kick (not since that day in Target). He didn’t have a mental illness. He didn’t have a disorder that was causing the problem. He was choosing to tantrum. He was choosing very deliberately to scream.  He wanted what he wanted. He wanted it now. Come hell or high water, he planned to get it.

And, I planned to make sure that he knew he couldn’t get it.  Not always, because sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes, we have to do what we don't want to. 

Sometimes? We have to give love even when we're not getting it. 

I declined the referral, and I went home with my still angry four-year-old.

For a while after that, we continued to dance our dance. Me setting boundaries. Seth pushing them. Me saying no. Seth protesting. On and on it went until I was absolutely sure that I couldn’t do another day of tantrum-listening,  consequence-giving, time-out enforcing. And then, of course, I would do another day and another, because I loved him.

I loved him with the kind of love that couldn’t give up. I loved him with the kind of love that was endlessly hopeful.

Sometimes that kind of love disappoints. Sometimes it is used up and tossed away and we are left with empty hands and hollow hearts and a bone-deep weariness that we think we’ll never recover from.

Sometimes, though, it triumphs. Ever so slowly,  what we plant sprouts and blossoms and grows into something astoundingly beautiful; what is difficult is transformed into something easy and sweet and lovely.

Because, sometimes - just like in the books I write - love wins. 

And, sometimes, the one we have loved through extraordinarily tough times buys us a sandwich and a soda and hands it to us with a bashful smile and hint of pride and lot of love. 

Thanks, Sweetie. You have grown into exactly the kind man I hoped you would be! 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col. 3:13-14

1 comment:

Lee Kilraine said...

What a beautiful tribute to a mother's patience.