I had a very candid conversation with my husband yesterday about Peanut. At one point, I remember telling him this: “Peanut is just so difficult. I love her, of course, but sometimes I don’t like her.”
It’s the truth. Before any of my mom readers throws stones at me, I guess the more appropriate way to say this is, sometimes I don’t like being her mother. We are a mismatch – Peanut and I. If I were to imagine the most inharmonious mother-daughter combination, it would be us. Here are some reasons why.
I am a perfectionist. I tend to demand perfection from myself, as well as those who represent who I am (i.e. my husband and my children). Obviously, there goes problem #1. I did not give birth to a perfect child. I guess that only happens once in the course of history, and Mary beat me to it.
I am a conformist. I like receiving instructions and following rules. It’s part of the culture I grew up in. I like to blend in. I like to stay inside the lines. I don’t like to stir the water. Peanut is the most out-of-the-box kind of person that I know. She is unique in every way. It’s easy to see that her life is meant to stand out. If there is a line, she will cross it completely and blatantly, or at least she’ll see how far she can go. She wants to set her own rules.
She constantly does or says things that make me wonder, “Why?” Why does she have to do that? Why does she have to touch that? Why? WHY? Some are out of defiance; others are out of pure childishness. Either way, she tests my patience.
I try to avoid confrontation at all cost. She thrives in confrontation, and she has to have the last word.
Me: Peanut, don’t pick at your scab. It’s going to keep hurting if you do that.
Peanut: But it doesn’t hurt.
Me: Peanut, be gentle with your toys, so you don’t break them.
Peanut: But they didn’t break.
Of course, I deal with her on the fact that she’s talking back to me, but it doesn’t change how frustrating and exhausting I get in midst of it.
I tend to be a people-pleaser. Pleasing others (especially me) does not seem to be on her priority list. She is who she is, with a unique sense of humor. She was playing around at the dinner table, so I told her to use good manners. She then started making funny noises and asked, “Mommy, is this good manners?” I told her no. She then began doing something else inappropriate and asked, “Mommy, is this good manners?” Blood is boiling at this point, and all I can do is to keep calm. How is it that one of her best talents is knowing how to push my buttons?
She and I are alike in some ways too…but they also contribute to how mismatched we are. We both like control. I want control so that I can meet my idealistic expectations, and she wants control….well, because that’s just part of who she is. She is a natural leader. We are both smart. I am not trying to brag, and honestly, my intelligence is quickly fading the more children I have. We both notice every little detail, and because she’s already smarter than I am, she tends to be right most of the time. This drives me insane. We find ourselves in frequent power struggles.
I was feeling hopeless and discouraged. I envied other moms who seemed to “have it easy.” As I talked about these feelings to my husband, I also expressed how guilty I felt for feeling the way I did…and for saying the things I did about her.
We decided to take a break from our serious talk and watch a movie. It was called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. This movie was not what I expected, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. In some ways though, I was able to relate to the relationship the mother had with her son (the main character). First of all, it reminded me that we don’t have it that bad. Things could be a lot more challenging. Second of all, even though their relationship seemed to be a misfit, when they tried they were able to find a harmony. The mother was able to see that she can understand her son like her deceased husband did, and the son was able to see that he can express his love to her, even if he didn’t think he was that good at it. There was something beautiful about their mismatched relationship. It hit me right then. If God gave me a choice, I would not choose any other way. There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t give to be chosen as her mother again. Absolutely nothing. She is unique, and she is different. I don’t like different. She’s not easy. I like easy. But above all, she is mine. My one and only Peanut. I learn and grow because of her everyday. She dares me to be a better mother. I may have stayed as the same person if it wasn’t for God bringing her into my life.
I used to sing this song to her all the time when she was a baby, and today I sang this to her again:
You are my Peanut, my only Peanut
You make me happy, when skies are grey
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my Peanut away
She was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. You know who I think is smarter than both her and me – God. He is so smart, to know how much we would learn from each other. How much we would grow together. He knew from the beginning that we’d be a perfect mismatch.