Welcome to Guest Post Month at the MOB Society! Today’s post comes from our newest MOB Society team writer, Emily Wierenga, author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. Please welcome her!
He’ll be four in November, my Aiden, my miracle child whom doctors said I wouldn’t have, because of the anorexia.
He’s standing at the far end of the swimming pool shivering in his camouflage shorts with the orange string, and the teacher’s in the pool, the kids lining up on the diving board to jump in and him just standing there, watching them.
He doesn’t move. The boys and girls jump once, then twice, and the teacher is talking to him. He’s jumped before–last week, in fact–but not anymore. He’s shaking his head and the teacher’s moving on, and I stand and begin to make my way over because my baby needs me.
I don’t want to be one of those moms that’s always standing up for her kid but when your gut moves, you go, and I do, in my bare feet down the side of the pool and I touch the teacher’s arm. She’s a young girl with glasses. I ask if I can talk to him and she nods.
And then I bend down to look Aiden in the eyes and they’re brown today, like his father’s. Sometimes they’re green like mine, and I say, “Honey, why don’t you want to jump?”
He shakes his head, looks sad at the floor. “I’m scared.”
I dig deep for something wise. “Mommy believes in you. And if you try, we’ll go and get ice cream after.”
When in doubt, bribe.
He jumps off that diving board, his little knees knocking, and I clap until my hands hurt.
And then we get his report card because it’s the final class and I’m opening it to show him, and reading silently that my son has tried very hard, and that she’s proud of his efforts, but that the teacher would encourage him to re-enroll. He has failed Sea Otters.
“I’m so, so proud of you honey,” as we walk towards the showers.
I wasn’t ready for this. For teaching my son how to fail with grace, and I know it’s important for kids to work hard and to know that sometimes they won’t pass, and I’m all for him getting character.
But not yet. Because to me, Aiden hasn’t failed. He tried something new. He listened to the teacher like I asked him to, when the other kids were goofing off and him, the only one obeying; he was always the last to swim the length of the pool, yes, but his little legs and arms never stopped moving, his face brave and determined and I praised him the whole way to the ice cream shop, and the whole way home, because to me, he is a success.
He’s got plenty of time to learn that the world is not near so encouraging as mom, but for now, I frame his report card while he’s sleeping, prop it up for when he wakes.
And the next morning I find him holding the frame, glowing.
Today, Emily has generously agreed to give away a copy of her book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy to one MOB Society reader! To enter, simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below (and don’t miss the free printable we have for you at the end of this post!)
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Emily Wierenga is wife to a math-teacher husband; mother and foster mother to four boys; an artist, columnist and the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter orFacebook.
This month we want to thank you, our faithful readers, for sticking by us as we rebuilt our site from scratch. In addition to giveaways, we are also happy to offer you free printables from Franchesa Cox of Small Bird Studios! Today’s printable is a beautiful reminder of the power of loving life. Enjoy and thank you for your support!
It is so hard, isn’t it? Part of me doesn’t ever want them to fail, or feel badly about themselves, or feel that they are “not enough”. Then the other part reminds me that failing is part of growing – and there is somehow some lesson in there (but yes, at times it is extremely hard to find!). Sometimes we cry together over the failures, or we talk about them. Sometimes we can laugh over them. Sometimes I just have to not say or do anything (which is probably the hardest).
As they get older, it seems I (as mom) have to step back a bit more – dad seems better able to connect with them on a “guy” level. It also seems to take longer to “get over it” (for them – and that’s not the right wording, as it seems to imply they NEED to get over it faster) – what I mean is the things are harder, the disappointments greater – so it takes longer.
I think you make such an important point here Katrina… we need to trust our husbands to step in and challenge our sons and to lead them towards a victorious character in spite of temporary failings… to help them become overcomers.
it’s hard. I want to comfort them but also don’t want to baby them. I try to reassure them that disappointments in life will happen but it’s how we deal with the disappointments that help us grow.
I agree Bridget. And I think I need to lean more on my husband to help me “toughen” my boys up versus babying them… I don’t want them to be afraid of failure or disappointments either. I guess in my mind, I wanted to reassure my son that by jumping off the diving board, and trying his hardest, he had succeeded in my eyes… because those were SUCH big steps for him. But definitely agree with you here.
Pat S. With my grandsons, I try to congratulate them on their achievements in character building as well astheir academic/athletic achievements. I try to make sure that I let them know when I have seen evidence of what “men of character” they are becoming….when they help one of their sisters, when they stand up for someone, when I notice them making a good choice, etc. It seems to me that there is not enough in our society which lauds good character but more than enough which lauds athletic prowess.
AMEN, Pat… I completely agree. It’s HOW you treat someone that matters, HOW you make the journey, not the end result… Bless you.
I find myself facing these moments so very often as the kids venture to public school for the first time after being homeschooled all these years. They look at me timidly when they tell me about a grade that isn’t so perfect and I ask them if they did their best, if they listen to the teacher, if they focused on their work. And I praise them for all the diligent effort and let them know perfection is not required around our home. Yes, trying something new is tremendous and your son is a champion! Thank you for sharing this.
YES Karin, love this. So long as they try their hardest… I love your heart friend.
Great post! Thanks!
Thank you Amber! Bless you! e.
Love this Em. I need to frame more of my kids accomplishments. Thanks for the reminder.
oh Sharon, I know you’re a great mom too… I could see it written all across your face and hear at Allume. Love you friend. e.
Sweet goodness Em. This is beautiful, your grace in that moment is shaping the both of you. Thank you.
Thank you dear Leanne. I really didn’t know what to do, and was startled by how fast I had to respond, so just trusted my heart… I know he WILL need to face failure and I don’t want to baby him, but I was honestly so proud of his efforts and felt he hadn’t failed. So I wanted to focus on that… appreciate you. e.
Delightful, Emily! Thank you for sharing this challenge we will all face as moms!
Thank you dear Amber, for reading and encouraging! Bless you friend. e.
Go Aiden! Oh, how we need our parents to be our biggest cheerleaders. You’re a great Mama, Em!
Thank you dear Elizabeth… Your encouragement means a lot to me!! XOXO
Clapping for you, Em, and your son Aiden…yes, if in doubt, always go for grace, and ice cream never hurts either 🙂
Oh, thank you sweet Dolly! Love you and your heart. e.
Loved this! Sometimes “failure” is a big win for certain!
I love how you phrased this friend–failure can be a big win. YES.
Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with much failure, but I think when I am faced with it I’ll just make sure that I’m the one to pick him up when he’s at his lowest.
YES. Be the one to pick him up. Beautiful. 🙂
Keep doing this em. I know you will. Aiden will need you many times in the days and years ahead. You rock!
Oh Dea you rock too! Thank you friend. e.
grace and encouragement for sure
Thank you Krista! So appreciate you reading. Bless you, e.
This is super sweet and inspiring! I love how you brought out the best in him and praised his efforts and had the intuition to know that the hard knocks inevitably do come, but TODAY is a day for praise.
Thank you so much Paula! It’s hard to know when to praise and when to challenge, but I’m trying to trust the Lord to guide me. Bless you! e.
This resonated with me so much. We put Bubby in soccer last spring, and he had fun b/c the coach treated it as just fun. This fall he had a different coach who did drills, and one practice my son was crying. There were Saturday mornings he was sad b/c he never made a goal. My heart broke, trying to figure out to make him persevere or quit. He ended up staying the season out, and he said he had fun, but there seemed to be less joy this fall than in the spring. He is not athletic and that is okay – he has other gifts, but already it seems he knows that he “doesn’t measure up” to this one, and I was not ready to deal with that.
I have a continuing talk with my sons….. We are human and not perfect, therefore I never expect perfection from them. As long as I know they’ve tried their best, I couldn’t be prouder.
As they get older I pray that I can continue to display grace towards my 4 sons.
Love this Emily. Love to hear more about your journey with Aiden since I’ve only been on your scene about a year or two.