Sunday, July 27, 2008

Woe is me

Yesterday marked the 7 year anniversary of my brother Brian's death. July 26th is always a sad day for me although with each passing year the intensity has diminished a little. The picture above is me as a baby and him cuddling me. I cherish this photo and I'm glad that my mom let me borrow it from her (along with many others of me and my siblings) so I could make copies to have forever. And I'm even more glad that I have the blessing of the Gospel in my life to give me comfort, hope and peace. I know that I will see him again.

To go along with my sad mood, I've been frustrated lately. I get lots of little comments made to me about Brendan and his energy level. This past week has been especially hard for me since I'm a little more sensitive than normal. It's hard for me because although I know my son is very active, loud and hard to control at times, other people don't get to see the sweet, loving little boy that I get to spend each day with. Brendan gives the best hugs and sweetest kisses, he says thank you (sometimes at the wrong time but still, it's pretty cool), is very obedient, folds his arms for prayers (again, not all the time but my heart melts when he does) and loves to laugh. Just today someone told me that Brendan is "quite the screamer"... what did she want me to say to that? I wanted to punch her in the face but since I was at church, I figured that wasn't the best option so I just said, "I know" and left it at that. I know he can out-scream any other baby and I know he's all over the place- trust me, I know.

I feel like I'm being judged a little when people make comments like that to me. I'm sure they think that I let Brendan do whatever he wants and do as he pleases, which is flat out not that case. I've been working very hard with him to control his outbursts and learn that screaming is not okay most of the time, and Brendan's come a LONG way. For the past 3 weeks, he's played quietly by our side during church. He behaved so well when we were at the grocery store that I actually got everything I needed. He's learned that when I say "shhhh" to lower his voice. And I've seen him grow to be obedient and follow directions. The first time he stopped running when I said stop (okay, maybe I yelled it), I about fell over with shock and delight.

But worst of all, I know people see him and think he's a "wild child" (another thing someone said to me) and it just breaks my heart. Chris and I have prayed long and hard about Brendan and his challenges, and I know that one day he'll learn to control himself or grow out of it or whatever. I just know that everything is okay and will be okay. And I love that he gets excited and shows it easily. It makes for the best homecomings ever. And I love that he laughs so easily and so often. Thinking back about my brother, it's made me realize that if Brendan were gone I'd miss all the things that other people are criticizing. I don't want him to be any other way or anyone else. He's my special guy and I'm glad.


  1. Man, I hate it that people tend say the most insensitive things on the day you need the most love. You are loved here in NC, my friend! I have to say, I am impressed you've taught Brendan so much in such a short amount of time! I'm no expert, but I have taught some kids that have a lot of energy. It was against their nature to sit quietly. That didn't mean there was anything "wrong" with them...they just needed a lot of positive reenforcement to go along with boundaries. They were some of my favorite students!!! Sounds like you're doing a great job of teaching him self control and that there's a time and place for everything. He'll get it. By the way, how are you enjoying being at home???!

  2. What a beautiful post, Val. I love that you appreciate and love both your brother and your sweet little Brendan. I think people are just jealous of you getting to have Brendan because he's such an enthusiastic little boy:). They want a little more zest in their lives:). He's seriously just so easy to love. I worry sometimes too when Isaac isn't at his best in public. But look at the things we're doing to help our little boys behave well and have happiness. I'm proud of us and I am so proud of our boys' efforts to try to be good and obedient.

  3. he's not a wild child. he's a sweet little boy. and mary loves him so much. and he likes to give hugs and cuddle with me when watching curious george. and i really like the picture of you with brian. i need to look through mom's collection and find some good pics.

  4. You know what, I am SO understanding this post today because Maddy has been a crazy little gal as of late, and I wonder if people are thinking the same sort of things about her. I think part of it is just the age and people forget how much they want to explore and enjoy life! And Maddy's voice, how can I say it nicely, "resonates" perfectly in the chapel, so she loves to make lots of noises lol. So I know how you feel, but just ignore people (although I would love to read the post where you DO punch someone at church! ha!) and remember that you know the very best things about your little boy (just like I do about my girl). :)

  5. Oh Val... I love you. It sounds like you need to hear that today (well yesterday).

    The only thing I can say is that you need to ignore the sideways comments. Critiquing your parenting skills is hardly the way to teach a young child. If anything it undermines the good you do- if you aren't sure of your methods, you better believe Brenden will pick up on that. If mommy is changeable or unsure then does ssshhhh really mean lower your voice?

    You are a good parent- a first parent who, just like Brenden, is experiencing something new every single day. It is okay to make mistakes. Just like it is okay to have a child who loves the sound of his voice, who loves to run and laugh and sometimes to kick, bite and scream. It unfortunately comes with the territory as he learns where his boundaries are.

    Stay firm and know that HF entrusted that little spirit into your care. He wouldn't have given you someone less than perfect for you. If the busy-bodies at church want to give so much advice, maybe they are also up for some babysitting so they can raise your baby.

    Don't let them get to you. When they critique your parenting, Brenden's personality, or the tenor of his voice, just say thank you- Chris and I have prayerfully considered boundaries and we are sure HF will guide us to parent the right way... or thank you, I am so grateful HF has entrusted such a loving boisterous son into our care- he is going to be such a wonderful missionary someday! Just look at how he loves being at church... or thank you, Brenden does have a tendency to be a screamer, we are positive he is going to be a rockstar someday.

    Make light of it and then breathe out and relax. We love you- and so does you HF

  6. Valerie!! I love you and Brendan just the way that you are. Brendan seriously is one of the most fun loving kids I have ever met and so fun to play with. I wish that people learned how to censor themselves a little better (as you remember my 97th ward experience!!) but people are just too self involved to realize that what they say may effect someone adversely. I am excited to see you guys again soon and get a bug hug from Brendan. He seriously gives the best hugs out of any little boy ever!

  7. I sometimes feel when someone is making a comment about one of my kids they are critiqing my parenting. Somedays (like you said) I am more sensitive to comments about my kids and other days it just rolls off my back. Aaron and I have found that our children have come to us with their own temperments already in place. I try to take the approach that it's our job to try to understand them and appreciate their unique personalities. Brendan is cute and you and Chris are fantastic parents.

  8. People suck! Isn't it lame how even people from church can be judgmental - you wanna be like "see that picture of Jesus over there?" Brendan is a fun kid, with a awesome personality, you rock it as a mom, so don't even give them a second thought.

    Ian says to "use them as a meat shield." You'll have to ask him what that means.

  9. Well the other day my sister asked me if I think Andrew has ADD. WHAT?! He is 3 and a boy, what do you expect! Then the other day in nursery I was teaching singing time and the teacher says, in the middle of a song to me that Andrew is going to be one of those kids who can never pay attention and always getting in trouble. WHY, why would you say that to me in the middle of a song, or even at all?! I wanted to cry and then rip her hair out! All I can say is that Brenden and Andrew should hang out more and RULE THE WORLD!