Remember that one time that I questioned my desire to be a mother and came to the conclusion that God must have given me the desire to have children to teach me more about his love for me. A great conclusion to an awful experience right. Well here's another one for you.
Last weekend, I took a vacation from motherhood. I love my kids more than life itself. I really love being a mother. But when Randall went away for a week in June, I decided that just because I didn't have any work related retreats planned didn't mean I couldn't plan one for myself. So I did. I went to the Chicago area and shopped on Friday night and saw a movie. Then woke up on Saturday and drove out to a beautiful state park and spent the day sweating and hiking and splashing in waterfalls. It was lovely. I came home on Sunday and went straight to a busy day of parties and church. When I finally got home after dinner on Sunday I was refreshed and glad to be right there, where I belong: with my boys.
Let me stop and tell you a little backstory. Isaac is in a new phase of being a Daddy's boy. He actually refuses to let me help him or sit next to him and begs for Daddy to do it. I don't mind. Asher's my momma's boy and I know Isaac loves me, too.
So on Sunday night when I got home, I hugged my boys and asked them all about their BOY weekend and what did they do with their daddy. They told me it was good, kissed me and turned on the TV. I turned it off and we played around and wrestled a little.
Another back story. When Isaac was little, Grandpa Bill used to play a game where he'd trap Isaac between his legs or arms and say, "Now you're trapped forever!" and then conveniently get distracted while Isaac squirmed his way free and ran to the other side of the room. Isaac would then grab Bill's attention again and announce (ta da!) he was free. Bill would act completely shocked and amazed and Isaac just loved playing that game with his Grandpa.
When Grandpa passed, I wanted to keep that memory alive in Isaac so I started playing it with him and reminding him that he used to play this with Grandpa Bill. Over the years, I've put my fairy tale spin on it and now when I trap the boys, there's only one key that will unlock the doors. It's a kiss. When they kiss me, I melt and they run free (ha ha!) off to slay some more dragons.
Back to Sunday night. Just minutes after I got home, I started trapping Isaac forever. He started struggling and this time just refused to give me a kiss to be set free. Now, I never force them to kiss me on the mouth or anything gross like that. They usually kiss the arm nearest their face and I melt good enough for them to escape.
So this time, Isaac just refused to kiss me. I decided that if I let him go now, then he wins by not following the rules of the game. I have to show him who's boss, right? So I refuse to let him go. I never squeeze him hard, there is always air between him and my arms, but if he wiggles free, I catch him again. Isaac starts thrashing in my arms and throwing the biggest tantrum since 2007 (his terrible twos). His face is turning purple and he's screaming and starting to cry, "I will never kiss you again! I want Daddy!" I start to feel AWFUL but I've decided that he has to follow the rule of the game. I refuse to let him go. If it were any other rule, for example if he had to say "Open Sesame" I wouldn't have let him go until he said it, but by now, I am forcing my child against his very strong will to kiss my arm. I feel awful. Randall leaves the room and is yelling from the kitchen, "I don't think it's worth it, Emily!"
But I stand my ground. I'm the boss here. I'm the mother. You don't get to make up your own rules. The whole time, I'm gently whispering in Isaac's ear that I love him but he's the one with the key. All he has to do is kiss my arm and the game can be over in a second. But he just insists on not playing and writhing in my arms, purple faced and screaming.
I forgot to mention that the whole time this saga is going on, Asher is trying to save his brother from my grasp. At first he just kisses my arm once, and then twice in case I didn't notice the first one. Then he goes in for another tactic. He picks up the nearest pillows and starts throwing them in my face. He wanted to do whatever he could to free his brother from the monster entrapping him.
I eventually let go. Isaac wins. My arms fall to my side and my face warps in sadness. Who let me be a mother? Seriously! How am I supposed to know how to raise a kid? Was sticking to my guns and forcing my kid to kiss me the right thing to do? OBVIOUSLY not! I'm sure he will be in therapy in twenty years. His break through moment will come when he realizes that it all comes back to the one moment his mother forced him against his will to love her. If that's not what sends him into therapy, it's the fact that I then commenced to cry in front of him. As my face contorted and the tears started to roll, Isaac then kissed my arm. I ran upstairs and shut my bedroom door. Isaac started yelling, "Mommy, trap me again! I want to be trapped again!"
I didn't know what to do. But I did want to sit there and cry for a minute. I don't remember the last time I really cried out the emotions inside of me. I tried to suck it up and contain myself just as Isaac entered the room and asked me rationally again to trap him. I told him I'd never trap him again. I was sorry for making him play the game. He said he didn't mind and wanted me to trap him again. So I hugged him and told him he was trapped without really touching him at all. Then he kissed me and I let him go and I closed the door behind him and cried some more.
It was there in the bathroom that God said, "Now you know why I don't force my children to love me." I wasn't forcing Isaac to love me. It wasn't about the kiss for me at all. It was about following the rules and sticking to what I had started. But it made sense. I can see now, how a world would be if God forced us all to love him or even forced us all to follow the rules. He gave us a world of choices. That's a good thing. But now I also realized how He feels when we choose to go against him and choose not to follow those rules. It's our choice, he'll never make us obey but it breaks his heart when we choose not to.
God, please wipe this event from Isaac's mind never to be brought back up again in some hypnotized therapy session down the road. Teach me how to be a wise mother. Teach me which battles to fight and which to let go. Don't let me get in the way with the plans you have for my children. Let them grow to be wise, godly men who love you more than anything. And let me earn their love by serving them and loving them unconditionally like you have loved me.