I can hear the soft rustle of her feet as she pads sleepily down the hall. I see tiny hands with chipped pink polish, lifting the blankets edge and then the softest wisp of a breathe on the side of my cheek as she nestles into the curve of my arm and settles where my heart beats. She is so beautiful to me. Her soft hair flowing over the pillow.
He pulls up on the bed, grasping with tiny fingers, a bounding cable of boy energy stretched long and flying toward us. He flops his head onto my shoulder and lets out a howl of chuckles, not like a girl but a deep thing floating from his lungs. He is all boy. This little man in my arms. I pull his body to mine. I feel his heart race with excitement as he jumps free and springs across the bed like a bounding creature.
And then there’s my oldest, on the cusp of manhood but still so much a boy. He doesn’t bound in like he used to. He sits more tentatively on the edge of the bed. Still wanting to join in but more reserved. He is finding his boundaries, his space. He’s not so quick to hug or snuggle. He carries his adolescent awkwardness with him at this age. I have to chase him down for affection but he is always ready for attention. For my time and praise.
He’s hurting. I can see it. He feels trapped and lost and is waiting for me to take the lead, after all, I’m his mom. I’ve taught him everything else from the time he was potty training with Thomas the Train undies to writing a persuasive essay in grammar.
I’m failing them. And I know that there is only so much we can do as moms. But then again, there is so much we can do as moms!
I see the areas where I am weak, where I struggle, and oh how it slices through me to see those same struggles and strongholds in my children’s lives. Food addiction and gluttony. Seeing it as comfort and overindulging. Piling my plate high when I should be turning to God for those empty and broken places which food never fills.
I don’t know how to change it.
How do you deal with flesh and need in your children’s lives when you haven’t even begun to deal with it in your own?
How do you set boundaries and help without it seeming like you are always judging or policing everything that goes into their mouths? Without making them feel worse than they already do?
How do you set an example when you are so weak? When you’ve tried and failed more times than you can count? When you can’t see your own worth and you hide behind your fat suit and hold people at a distance?
I watched my dad battle these demons all of his life and I know now, he wasn’t judging me as my weight ballooned as I made poor choices and he saw my health declining. He felt just as inadequate to help me as I do now as a mom watching my children imitate me.
I’m failing, guys. I know it. I am stripped bare and exposed. And all I can do is admit I am failing and I need help.