When we’re both standing, he comes up to my chest, but lounging on the couch we don’t notice. No, on the couch, he leans into my shoulder like he used to as a chubby baby, and his 6-year old lanky legs drape over my blanket-wrapped ones, and our oldest still seems, well, little. A couch and a blanket and snuggling with a son before bed. It doesn’t get any better.
These are our golden moments- Tanner and I. With Bry at youth group and little brother already asleep, he and I have a chance to connect.
What’s going on, bud? Anything you’re curious about, or scared of, or want to talk about?
His question doesn’t settle the first time.
How can I be better, mom?
Better? I don’t want you to be better. I just want you to be you.
Ya, you ask us how you can be a ‘better mom,’ so I’m wondering how can I be a better Tanner?
Oh. My head nods in slow motion as I process.
I choose the words carefully and use the oreo approach I learned from Lil’ Mom- sandwich two positive attributes with a constructive thought in-between.
T, you are so incredible just being who God made you to be. I love watching you create and draw and help Ty make his bed. I notice you working on being patient with him and not hitting him (you see what I did there?) It would be awesome if you could continue working on being a first-time listener. Maybe ackowledging when we’re talking to you, even if you’re in the middle of something. It would help us know that at least you hear us. I think it’s awesome how you want to buy your school friends a popsicle with your own money. God placed compassion in you, and it’s so cool to watch how you care about people.
I notice a new freckle on his cheek and lean in to smooch it.
Then I hand the question back to him. How can I be a better mom?
It comes calmly and confidently, as if he’s rehearsed it for years in his mind. Can you stop yelling at us?
Cue dry throat and stingy tears. Truth. Ouch. Truth nonetheless. I do yell. And when no response comes from their direction, I tend to yell louder. Research says it’s super affective. Ugh.
These are the moments I know I’m sending my kids to therapy, but also the moments I am so dang thankful for grace and apologies. Tanner is immediately obsolved into my blanketed body. No, I’m not blubbering all over him. Give me some credit. A few light showers that’s all.
I’m so sorry, bud. I’m so sorry for yelling at you and Ty-Ty. I will work on not yelling anymore. Thank you for being so honest and letting me know. I have so much to learn, and I love that you are talking to me about this.
If I’m honest, I had to fight not to defend. But I only yell because you and your brother are allergic to listening. And I yell because after asking you to put your shoes away for the ten billionth time, I no longer have any patience. But that wouldn’t be an affective apology if I simply defended my wrong. Swallow that pride, mama. T, will you please forgive me?
Such brave words, this boy just shared.
And mom, you are a really, really good mom.
In fact– he gets up from the couch and grabs the notepad- I have to write you a note like you and dad write me in my lunch. His body hunches over, his foot tapping the barstool as his brow furrows in focus.
Pencily, familiar Tanner words, the note reads:
You are a real good mom. And dad, you are a real good dad.
Cue dry throat and stingy tears.