confessions graphic FINALAmy and I met our freshman year in university, and she has been one of my dearest friends ever since. We share a love for words, dodgy Chinese restaurants and country music (among other things). She is creative, intelligent, hilarious and thoughtful, a most wonderful friend, devoted wife and mom, and a deep thinker. It’s a pleasure to have her thoughts here about her own experiences with motherhood. When I read this piece a few days ago, my first thought was, “I so needed to hear this right now,” and I think you will feel the same way. 

Amy lives in Texas with her husband, Kyle, and 4-year-old Owen and 1-year-old Audrey.


It was a few days ago that my 4-year-old, Owen, was playing in his playroom. The door was closed, so I can’t say for certain, but my guess is that it was show-time for his usual cast of characters: Hot Wheels cars and little Fisher-Price knights. I heard him through the door, bringing his toys to life with the low, gravelly voice he uses for all the battle scenes. There were Booms! and Ahhs! and the mighty clash of plastic against plastic. Then silence. Life is loud here, so the quiet made me listen.

“Haha, I guess we should stick to high-fives from now on!” one of the knights said, finally. Owen narrated with a self-confident chuckle I hadn’t heard before.

It’s funny, this person he is. The baby stage for my husband and me was relatively easy. It wasn’t not-complicated or not-frustrating or not-exhausting, but it was black-and-white. It was analyzing patterns and diagnosing cries and training new skills. It was a relief to {loosely} schedule naps, wake times and feedings, and we fell into rhythms.

But babies become toddlers who become little boys, and that is the thing that most births my stress and tears and second-guessing. The being I protected in my womb and nourished in my arms is now the boy-person who claims a portion of my heart. His emotions have in many ways become my emotions. I feel his insecurities; I see his fears; I stumble over his stumblings, because they are things I often can’t fix with milk or a hug or a word or a correction. And when I am depleted and my empathy is lacking, I turn to harsh words, or an unnecessary tone or a command to “just stop doing what you’re doing,” period. Which, to a 4-year-old, sounds an awful lot like “Just stop being who you are,” because he needs help navigating this world. He needs pruning, guiding and leading from trusted hands.

I wasn’t prepared for a lot of things about parenthood, but at the top of that list was the reality that my son is a person. I should study him. When he is insecure, I should be gentle with him. When he is afraid, I should speak words of courage and security. When he is persistent and stubborn, I should show him how to channel those qualities in positive ways. When he is disobedient, I should aim to impact his heart and not be satisfied with modified behavior.

Yesterday, a friend commented that Owen looks like me. I asked Owen how that made him feel, and he sucked in his cheeks, looked at me sideways and whispered in my ear: “Happy.”

I have his innocent devotion for a short time, and if I take that for granted – if I don’t take the time to earn his trust through love, patience and security now — one day he’ll be a man I don’t know walking through the door of what was once his home.

Today, it’s raining, and I listen to him just a few feet away in the next room. He’s looking out the window and playing with Super Sly and Zoom, two of his cars. Super Sly and Zoom are chatting about “giant raindrops.” One of them says, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m afraid of heights.”

Owen looks my direction and closes the door, and his voices are muffled and it’s hard to hear.

I pray that I never stop listening.

This post is Day 21 of 31 Days of blogging in October. I am writing this month about my first season of motherhood, sharing stories and lessons that stayed with me from that time.

(New to this series? Start here and follow the links to each day’s post.)