Monday, August 13, 2012

Broken Men Break Their Children....I'm Bigger Than That

About two weeks ago LittleM began having a hysterical over-reaction to being buckled in the car if there was not a grown-up IN the car with her.  Even though we don’t leave the kid’s in the car alone she would FREAK out!  After buckling the twins in their seats I would close the door and walk around the car to the driver’s seat.  In that amount of time she would be literally in hysterics.  Overnight this little girl became completely terrified of being left in the car.  

One day she got into her seat, but refused to buckle herself until I was in the car.  Thinking we were simply dealing with the next chapter in the developing war of wills with your typical toddler, I verbally forced her to buckle herself.  I told her that she needed to obey and if she did not she would have a punishment.  She cried and cried, but as I firmly repeated myself she obeyed.  BUT by the time I got from the passenger seat (where I had been putting the lunch and diaper bag in) to the driver’s seat she was a mess.  What I learned that day though, was that if she was not buckled in (read: trapped) she could handle herself much better.  

On another occasion my sister-in-law had LittleM.  She stepped out of her mini-van to walk her son to the front door for a play-date.  LittleM FREAKED out.  She was scared of being left alone in the van.  We don’t leave the kid’s in the car when we go places, but of course there have been plenty of times when we’ve loaded them in the car and needed to run back into the house to get whatever it was we might have forgotten inside.  In all of her 3.5 years of life this reaction has NEVER occurred.

I began praying about this.  Had something happened when I was not home that scared her?  Had she been trapped in a closet (a favorite playing spot) or the bathroom?  Had there been a punishment that made her feel particularly trapped?  I asked my husband and there had been nothing.  One morning after praying about it, I remembered an event that happened shortly after we moved in with my in-laws.  For various reasons, we put a gate at the top of the stairs once we go to bed at night.  We use both of the two bedrooms upstairs and don’t want the kids wandering downstairs during the night.  A few mornings when I went downstairs to make the kid’s breakfast “bottle” I left the gate up.  After only moments in the kitchen I was running to the steps to help LittleM – who was hysterical at the top of the steps because she was trapped upstairs without mommy.  I realized that this was somehow related to her fear in the car, but it was still a mystery to me.   

The other thing I have noticed in this same time frame has been a deep inward breath that I clearly recognize as anxiety.  This has also been most concerning to me.  I personally had a childhood wrought with anxiety.  I was painfully shy and insecure (that is a whole other topic!).  Watching the birth of this anxiety in LittleM was more difficult for me than the hysteria really.  So I continued to pray that God would reveal the root.

Today I made “soup” for LittleM and LittleR.  "Soup" - this was what we called vegetable and meat puree before LittleM had her tongue-tie revision this May.  There was a time when the kids were about 2 when this is what we were trying to get them to swallow.  For some reason LittleM couldn’t even swallow this!  All she could accomplish was a loose stage 1 baby food.  The thicker “soup” puree was too much and she would not swallow it.  We were told again and again by the occupational therapist that we were seeing that this was a behavioral issue.  Though I really didn’t think so, the doctors continued to tell us that there was nothing wrong with LittleM’s mouth.  In a moment of doubting myself I entertained this theory.  I decided that LittleM was GOING to swallow her soup or suffer the age appropriate punishment.  This little 28 month old repeatedly chose punishment over swallowing her “soup.”  Thinking about this now brings tears to my eyes.  We sat there at the table battling for hours.  I decided that one day that she would not get up from the table until she had eaten her 2 ounces.  We literally sat there all morning.  She was faling asleep at the table – both from being tired and from being emotionally exhausted from the timeouts, spanks, and yelling that she was enduring.   I am not advocating this approach – not at all.  When I took her from the table and carried her sleeping into her room, I sat there on the floor at her crib rocking her while I cried.  It was terrible.  After nap we went at it one more time.  Later that evening I called my mom – I was at the end of myself.  After going over a 2-year-old's choice of discipline over swallowing some soup – a two-year-old who loved the approval of her parents – my mother helped me to see that this was crazy.  She helped me to stand on what I knew in my heart – something was physically wrong with LittleM’s mouth.  As a side-note, it wasn’t long after that that this OT and I simply COULD NOT work together.  

Fast forward to today.  For the first time since those days, I made “soup” for the kid’s.  I didn’t call it soup because I didn’t want to revisit that horrible experience on LittleM.   I called it broccoli/carrot puree, but as soon as LittleM saw it she said, “Did you make us soup?”  I had to answer honestly, but I didn’t really want to.  I asked her if she wanted to have it to which she said yes.  That in and of itself was a shock to me.  She asked, “Is this the same soup that I had when you made me a crib and I couldn’t get out of there?”  My heart fell like a stone into my stomach.  “Yes, it was honey.”  She just kept eating as though it all meant nothing.  

I sat there for a few moments wanting to cry, and then I began talking.  I knew that this was my opportunity to do some repair work with my daughter. 

“M,” I began, “Did that scare you when you were in your crib and you couldn’t get out?”  

“Yes it did, because I needed you and you didn’t come, and I was screaming (yes she used the word screaming),” she answered.

Tears were welling up in my eyes.  I had put her in her crib several times as punishment in between each horrible bite.  At one point I was so angry/confused/frustrated that I closed the door to her room and left her in there screaming for probably 10 minutes.  Oh – I will never forget that day and I so wish I could do it over again.  Thank God that he is bigger than that day.

“M. did you know that mommy made a mistake that day?  Were you getting in trouble because you weren’t swallowing your soup?”  With a mouthful of meatball, she shook her head yes. 

“Mommy is very sorry, M.   I didn’t know that you had a tongue tie.  I didn’t know that you COULDN’T swallow your soup because your mouth wouldn’t work right.” 

She talked with me about it for a few minutes.  She was very matter of fact about it – not upset.   I was absolutely shocked that she remembered this event.  I was not shocked that it had affected her, but that she REMEMBERED it.  Right now as I am writing there are tears in my eyes and a big hard lump in my throat.  But THANK THE LORD He is BIGGER than this historical event in my daughter’s life. 

I reiterated my sorrow over these events several times to my 3.5 year old – in 3.5 year old language.  LittleR was there participating in the conversation too.  He had some significant stress watching this event when it happened.   At one point I very seriously called LittleM’s name and told her to look at me.  When she took in one of those deep anxious breaths I knew that she thought I was about to say something of a disciplinary nature; to the contrary, I reiterated my regret and remorse to my children.  At that moment I believe I saw a change in her countenance.  It was as though that little girl exhaled all that anxiety right out of her little body. 

When she was finished eating all of her lunch I got her down from her booster seat and held both of her hands.  I looked in her eyes and said, “M, mommy made a big mistake and I am SO sorry.”  This beautiful, articulate little girl looked at me and said, “You ARE sorry, and I am sorry too.”  My heart melted and then she melted it again when she reached her little arms around me and hugged me tighter than ever before.  

We always end timeout conversations in that way – holding hands, conversation, hug…forgiven, but never before has that little girl reached out and actively hugged me in one of those moments.  Usually she passively lets me hug her.  This was different.  I am just believing that the Lord healed something in that little one today – something that I had done to her.

Thank you Lord that YOU are bigger than my brokenness.

Listen to this beautiful truth – spoken by the Lord to you and me.

Misty Edwards
"I Knew What I Was Getting Into/All Men Are Broken"

“I knew what I was getting into when I called you I knew what I was getting into when I said your name – I said it just the same.
I knew what I was getting into and I still like you.
I knew what I was getting into.
Listen my beloved,
I am not shocked by your failure.
I am not shocked even by your sin.
Only I can see the end from the beginning.
Only I can see where this is going.
Where you see only your failures, I see a fighter .
When you see only your brokenness, I see a lover.
I am not shocked by your failure.
I am not shocked even by your sin.
Listen, listen, I knew what I was getting into when I called you.
I knew what I was getting into when I said your name – I said it just the same.
I knew what I was getting into and I still like you.
I knew what I was getting into.
Just don’t give up. Don’t give in.
If you don’t quit you will, you win.
It’s all that I’m asking,
Just don’t give up. Don’t give in.
If you don’t quit you win, you win.
Listen, cause everything is in my hands.
It’s gonna be all right - gonna be ok”

I hear him singing over you.
He says:

“Everything is in my hands – it’s gonna be alright, gonna be ok.”
He says,
“Everything is in my hands. It’s gonna be alright.”
I hear him singing over you. And some of you are hearing Him saying your name. Saying your name – he says to you,"

“I’m not like your father.
Listen my beloved one, I’m not like your father.
Cause even the best of them are just broken brothers.
Listen my child, listen to me I’m not like your father,
why are you putting that on me?
Listen, listen, I’m not like your father.
I’m not like your father.
Cause even the best of them are just broken brothers.
Listen, For all men broken,
and broken men break their children,
Who grow up to be broken men…
BUT I’m bigger than that."

"Listen, I’m bigger than that.
And all men are broken,
And broken me break their children,
Who grow up to be broken men…
But I’m bigger than that
Come to me – I’m bigger than that."

"I’m not like your father,
and some of you have been so afraid of repeating the same mistakes –
that fear has you frozen.
But listen, listen,
I have the power to change things,
and I have the power to make you new,
and I have the power to rearrange that same old chain.
And listen you’re not like your father.
It’s a new day, it’s a new day.
Your not like your father and the sins of their fathers, and their fathers, and their fathers and their fathers fathers will not be on you.
Just keep on, keep on coming…
Listen my beloved,
All men are broken
and broken men break their children
who grow up to be broken men.
Listen, I’m bigger than that.
You gotta let your fathers go.
Your fathers were broken by their fathers, who were broken by their fathers and their fathers and their fathers and on and on and on…”

We’re all in this together.
And there’s only one good father.
He’s the father of all creation.
He’s the father of lights,
the father of glory
and He loves us so well.

And he says,
“Everything is in my hands -
it’s gonna be alright –
you’re gonna be ok.
No regrets.
Everything is in my hands -
it’s gonna be alright –
you’re gonna be ok."

"And some of you have been so full of regrets.
Your babies are my babies.
Listen, your babies are my babies.
And I will be the father.
Cause your babies are my babies.
I’m gonna turn it all around - just wait and see.
I’m gonna make everything beautiful just in time.
I’m gonna turn it all around - just wait and see.
No regrets.
I’m gonna make everything beautiful just in time.
It’s just a matter of time."


  1. <3
    I am too busy crying to comment. ((hugs))
    Thank you for this.

  2. Sometimes, words of truth hit you in a place that needs their healing so desperately and it's like you didn't even know you needed them. God is so good Nichole, and he is using you to speak/write his truth into broken and desperate places. Love You

  3. Thank you for your honesty. Every mother can relate, we are human, Thank GOD He works in spite of us. Also, thank God that you are so sensitive to His Spirit and that you for reminding us to seek Him first to HELP us have the strength to lead our children.