Robert Jack Livingston
I often wonder what the name is that God has for him, that only He knows. What it means, what it unveils about who God made him to be?!
Robbie and I had a poignant moment the other day that I want to remember.
He is coming up on his 3rd birthday, which means we are in a very 'dynamic' phase with him. :) He is asserting himself in new ways, independent of Rob and I. It's wonderful and perfectly normal, but exhausting and at times frustrating for me since he is not only my first child but my first boy. This is new territory for all of us.
Recently Robbie became very frustrated one afternoon. We hadn't really done much that day, and there didn't seem to be any triggers for his bad behavior that I could identify. (Don't we all have those moments!? As adults, we just learn to manage our responses and edit ourselves appropriately... but if you are a child without those tools... it gets ugly.) After a few hours in a row (no exaggeration) of correcting, disciplining, distracting, ignoring, and trying to engage him in other activities, I was spent. Physically and emotionally.
I think the last straw was when he delivered a swift blow to Ellie's head, which made her cry, and refused to apologize and hug her and went running into the other room away from me, yelling. The day had unraveled and I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't have any more tactics to try with him or tricks up my sleeve. Thanks to what I'm sure was a surge of pregnancy hormones, things started to look very dim. The house was a mess, I hadn't even thought about dinner, I needed to use the bathroom hours ago and didn't feel like I could let him out of my sight, and needed a drink and something to eat. I was frustrated and angry and had nothing left to give my kids. I sat down on the couch and just let go of what was happening. I started to cry, and once I started I could not stop.
Oh my poor kids. I almost laughed as they stopped what they were doing and tried to figure out what was happening to their mom. It was probably the first time I had really cried in front of them. Curiosity turned to concern and they realized I was sad.
I want to remember two things about this. The first is that there are times that it benefits both Robbie and I most if I stop all the discipline and correction and take time to be quiet and ask God for help, in the moment. It took me hours that day to actually invite God into the process of raising Robbie and the discipline he needed to receive that day as well as the love he needed from me. It's not enough to think that God knows he has an 'open invitation' into my life and our family. Even if only for my sake, I need to physically stop and invite him into every moment and situation. How have I forgotten to do this regularly?
Second, I want to remember Robbie's response because it was so tender. As I wept for how inadequate and in-over-my-head I felt in that moment overall (alone with the kids, messy house, pregnancy, holiday to-do's, etc.) I watched Robbie's demeanor change in a matter of seconds. He became concerned and his lower lip quivered as he said to me "Mommy, don't be sad. Mommy, be happy!". When that didn't stop my waterworks, and I told him I was ok I just felt sad and needed to cry, he crawled up on the couch next to me and softly said "Mommy, don't cry - I'm right here with you. I'm right here loving you." He tenderly put his head on my shoulder and kissed my cheek and then proceeded to bring me all of his favorite toys. "Here you go mommy, here is my train to make you happy", followed by tracks and matchbox cars and even his beloved brown blankie.
And poor little guy, if this didn't just melt my heart and make me cry harder out of love for him! Not exactly the response he was going for.
For the rest of the evening he was well behaved. And I was reminded that he is allowed to have his share of challenging moments and even days as a 2 year old boy, but it doesn't mean he is out of control or a tough child overall. He has a tender, sensitive heart and I see so many examples of this as he is eager to share, love on his sister, help me around the house, 'be like daddy', and strive for obedience. But he is only two years old.
I can't wait to see what the next year holds for our family, but especially for Robbie's growth and development as we continue to raise him to know God and love Him, and hopefully live out of that relationship even as a little boy. Shaping a child's heart and not just his behavior is hard work, and is not a quick process. But we just refuse to settle for behavior modification as our method of parenting, and that means difficult days and even a few tears along the way.
I'm so thankful that this is my life, and that this sweet little boy, full of life and energy and joy, is mine to love and learn from. What a blessing!