Yesterday, I went out on a mommy & me date with my five-year-old son, Ben. I always look forward to these special one-on-one times with my kids, and my dates with Ben are some of my favorite. But in all honesty, Ben can often be my most challenging child. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a middle child, a boy, or because he feels outnumbered with two sisters, but many days I am at my wits end on what to do with this child.
He has big emotions and he’ll let me know exactly how he feels. There are days when I lock myself in the bathroom so I can say a quick prayer because he’s pushed all of my buttons and I’m too exhausted to go another round with him. And then there are tender moments that we share where he’ll climb on my lap after a nap and just want to snuggle. He’s even named himself my “snuggle buddy”.
During one of his snugglier moments, he asked when we were going to go on our next date. We were actually supposed to have gone on one when his big sister went to a daddy daughter dinner, but with all the craziness of life, I forgot. So we started to make plans on when we would go out on our date.
But before we went out, I told him that he needed to ask me first. I wanted to teach Ben that one of the most important things he needed to do was to be brave and take the initiative. Then came the saddest words that just broke my heart. He slowly looked up at me and very quietly said, “I can’t. I know if I ask you, you’ll just say ‘no’ because I’ve been bad.”
I felt like the worst mom. Here I was thinking that I was teaching my son how not to be like one of those guys who never has the guts to ask a girl out, when I was really the one who made him feel like he could never measure up.
I wonder how many times I unknowingly say or do things to my kids that crush their spirit and make them feel like they aren’t good enough. It is so easy to let my words tear them down rather than build them up. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
I want my words to bring life to my children. I don’t want the power of my words to cause my 5-year-old son to think that he’s not good enough to ask even his own mom out on a mommy & me date.
Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning and kids are quick to forgive. Our mommy & me date ended up being a great way to restore both of our hearts. He was the prefect little gentleman. He opened my door, paid for our meal, shared his ice cream and even fell asleep on the way home.
Watching him sleep peacefully reminded me that while the days are indeed long, the years are so very short. He will only be this little for a short while and then he’ll be too big to snuggle on my lap; it won’t be cool to be seen with me out in public; he won’t need me to help him see over the counter as they are making him vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
But while he’s still my little snuggle buddy, I pray that I can raise him up to be the man that God wants him to be. That my words would edify him and build him up instead of tear him down. The world does enough of that to our sons already; I don’t need to add to it. I hope that he’ll feel secure in who he is and who God has created him to be. And when that day comes for him to go on his first date, he’ll not question if he’s good enough, because by then he’ll have placed his confidence in the One who is more than enough.