Hello from the Hughes » Living and loving in redemption

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MOM FAIL: Boy on a bike

he’s got his bulky black helmet buckled beneath that bony chin. his knobby knees thrust forward, each one rhythmically keeping pace with the other. he clenches the wobbly handlebars tight. grunting and whining up the street’s gradual incline, “this is hard, mom, i can’t do it!”

and there i am, trotting and panting beside him. holding the seat steady while balancing his weight against my own own, trying my best to keep us both from face planting.

i finagled my oldest boy, Evan, to come ride alongside for moral support. “Nick needs encouragement honey, you’ve done this.” i pitched.

we’ve only been out here 10 minutes
but between the sweat and the sheer pessimism it feels like hours.
the kid gave up before he started.
his mind’s made up.
he was never gonna conquer the two-wheeler today.
“why’d we even come out here?” i sighed.
my patience thin.
i thought we’d get somewhere today.
but it’s up and down the same 50 feet of street to no avail.

every time he puts his toes down to slow the bike, i take a sec to catch my breath.

this time i snap. “why are you stopping!? you have to go faster to balance! keep pedaling! you can do this! come on! just look at Evan, he’s been doing this since he was four!”

gulp.

it’s just,
i have this kid who can’t do things kids his age can.
like open a syrup bottle. throw a ball.
or… ride a bike.
he’s seven. he has fears. so many fears.
all i want is for my 7-year-old to do normal 7-year-old things.
sure he’s skinny, and a tad awkward but he’s not inept.

out in the middle of the street, he totally deflates.
complaints turn to tears.
he loosen his grip on the handlebars
throws his body away from my grip and rides straight into a parked car.
defeated, i cringe. i can’t take my words back.

i think i squashed whatever shred of hope he might’ve had in himself.
can you say mom. fail.

some days parenting feels impossible.

my logic was if i praise the positive achievements of his sibling, he will somehow want to improve. if i focus on his imperfections, he will want to shape up. i think i’m helping him, guiding him, when in fact i’m only tearing him down, setting him back.

it’s so hard not to compare our children to others.
not to zero in on negative characteristics when they arise.
not to push them to follow our dreams for them.
i see this all the time in families.
reality soon hits and it’s not a pretty outcome.

i guess the motivation for me is i don’t want him getting bullied for being a sensitive sally.
i don’t want him to be ostracized or labeled as an oddball.
what i have to take into consideration is how different each of my kids are.
i have done the unintentional labeling. “he is athletic, she is strong-willed.”

i don’t stop to consider there is a unique and creative being who needs to be spurred on with praise. instead i impose my own strengths, my own learning styles, my own dreams onto my children who are mentally and emotionally wired completely different — not only different from me, but from each other.

it’s so natural to use these types of corrective tactics, don’t you think?

Nick struggles to ride a bike just like i struggle to realize dreams sometimes clash with reality.
we are really no different. except sooner or later one of us will figure it out.
so, he’s not going to be a baseball or football all-star…
he’s more of a brainiac anyway.
what am i to do with that?

as a mama, i am still learning, ever-learning.
it not about my child being able to do this or that.
that’s all ego based and self-focused.
no, it’s truly about unconditional love.
it’s about lowering my own hyped-up expectations to fit his unique reality.
and his unique reality is determined by his own interests and his talents.
it might be good to recognize the traits we loathe in our children could someday be the traits that make him or her a great leader, a good lawyer, or perhaps a loving father?

as i was skimming the book No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage, i found the lesson i was suppose to learn. she states, “The more we learn to love our children unconditionally, the more we provide an emotionally safe and relationally secure environment for our children, the more love makes it safe to fail.”

so you see, only love can welcome obstacles/trials/challenges with a spirit of understanding. only love can let our children be who they really are, and that is the best version of themselves.

as for Nick… though he may be fine and gross motor challenged, i need to be embracing his uniqueness and loving him exactly where he’s at. he will get there.

we all know the cool thing about learning to ride a bike: once learned, it’s never forgotten. and that’s more than i can say for the lessons i’ve had to learn, and re-learn for that matter.