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Mother’s Day to Those Special Few

Mother’s Day to Those Special Few

Parenting Without Reciprocity

Most Moms tuck their children into bed multiple times a night and give into that plea for “one more story please!”   Most Moms drag themselves out of bed, even when they don’t feel good, to feed their kids breakfast and get their cowlicks combed down for school.  Most Moms snuggle when they don’t really feel like it and laugh at jokes that aren’t funny at all.  Most Moms pretend excitement when they find their child “hiding” obviously behind the couch.  Most Moms love their kids more than anyone else and give past their giving point because of this.

This isn’t about “Most Moms”. This is about the special few, although they don’t feel special at all.  These Moms give more than they can, and they may or may not have a child who receives that.  If he does receive it, he can’t show you that he has.  As your child gets bigger, you continue to give more, and she continues to take more.  This is not because the child is selfish; it is just the nature of her particular needs.  Whereas other parents have to give everything they physically have for 2-3 years, you are on year 13 now, and you are still giving everything you have.  You are tired, so tired it’s hard to express. Seriously, you are so tired that even the thought of getting a babysitter is too much trouble.  You wonder how much longer your journey will look like this.  There is so little reciprocity.  There is just give, give, give.  You want to give, you don’t resent any of it, but you need a break.  You need a glimmer of hope.  You need for your child to reach for you with tenderness or learn something new.  You need for your child to be OK.  You need a little give and take.

Parents of typical kids get so many gifts.  They get to see their children reflect their behaviors and value systems.  They get to see their children learn and grow and find their footing as individuals.  They give advice, and even though their kids may seem resistant, there is some receiving of that advice.  And then there is the relationship that develops from the self-centered baby/toddler years into your teens starting to consider your own feelings and experiences of the world.  There is so much give and take.

Parenting when you have typical kids looks like this:

You give more than you can, and you get a smile in return, a giggle, a cuddle, and a kid who chooses you above all else.  It is enough for this season. As your child gets bigger, you give less, and he/she gives more.  Don’t get me wrong here, parents almost always and forever out-give their kids, but still reciprocity continues to increase as kids get older.

Parenting kids who are not typical often looks like this: 

  • You feel a blend of contrasting emotions – so tired, and yet energized at problem-solving for their child;  so raw, and yet trying to protect yourself; such a sense of urgency, and yet a true understanding that this moment is all that is promised;  so discouraged, and yet looking for hope in mundane things no one else would even notice.
  • You have experienced every emotion, sometimes by 8:00 AM, and you still smile at your child and hold her close. Your love has been pushed past exhaustion, and you still extend your arms over and over again.  Your love answers the questions…. “Will you love me when…..? Will you love me if….? Will you love me anyway?” Most Moms love their kids no matter what, but these Moms, have faced the “no matter what”.  These Moms live in the “no matter what”.
  • You live in a constant state of extremes. There are really no small worries and all your victories seem so small; bedtime went without a hitch or your kids played together without getting aggressive for 20 whole minutes.  Victories that no one even knows to celebrate with you.
  • You live in a constant stage of expecting – expecting heartache, expecting improvement, expecting rejection, expecting, expecting, expecting! You stay tender toward your child even when the cost is great. You are special needs parents.

What makes these Moms amazing is that they really know what kind of parents they would be if there wasn’t anything in it for them, and in my experience, these Moms are superheroes.  They get up every morning determined to do things well, even when they can’t make anything better.  They reach for their children consistently, even when their children slap their hands away or can’t reach back.  They hug their children even when they don’t feel like it.  They laugh bravely, cry with courage, and get up the next day to do it all over again.  Their love has been tested, and they have found that there is truly no love on earth like the love between a Mom and her child.  They have experienced that their children’s worth comes from their existence, not from anything they do.

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