I find myself too often in the position of really not liking my children. I feel horrible about this. But they really are just jerks sometimes. They demand and beg and nag, and then don't listen to me or obey the rules, don't even give me a response when I speak to them much of the time! They whine about my rules and fight against them; Ethan throws huge tantrums, Jacob pouts. They inflict shocking frequencies and degrees of violence on each other with complete disregard for my pleas to stop. What is there to like sometimes, honestly? Yet, I know my job is to love them when they are undeserving of it, to be faithful to them and to honor the deep connection we share, as well as my commitment to them as their parent. And I will do so. In the meantime, I need to find a way to live with them and maintain an example of peace and love, rather than a display of anger and attempts to control which I cringe to see them repeat on each other. I really am not sure how to become that example of peace and love and to stop displaying anger and trying to control by force. But as part of the process, I am going to write the things that they sometimes do or are which remind me of my deep love and affection for them. (And I guess I'll pray these characteristics would start coming out more than the negative ones again!)
For Jacob - I love it when he is helpful, cooperative, kind, thoughtful, gentle, wants to be snuggled, excited about new discoveries, excited about being creative, showing love for a new book, showing that he is thinking about the big picture - often in the form of noticing what other people might need or how something will affect them, but also simply by perceiving the consequences or meaning of things beyond his years; content to retreat into his mind with nothing but a simple, often small, representative object to release the flow of his imagination, mumbling a script (often only sounds of the events) under his breath to drown out the rest of the world.
For Ethan - I love it when he is loving to the point of abandon, kind to the point of contentedly sacrificing something so someone else will be happy, complimentary and polite, naturally and unaffectedly affectionate and genuinely trying (and often succeeding) to do nice-feeling things for those he loves, surprised by new things and eager to learn, amazingly open to people - to new people especially, it seems; utterly without self-consciousness and happy to present all of himself to you, with no reservations; desiring to be creative; happy and content to play for an extended period in the scenarios he creates and often eager to draw others in to the fun, able to sustain his own contented, creative play outdoors for a surprising amount of time.
For Samuel - I love it when he is thoughtful, mindful of other people's presence of lack of presence with him, desiring to have those he loves near him whenever possible (preferably all at once), considerate and sensitive to those closest to him; loyal to his brothers, loving and admiring them fully; generally extremely happy and positive in his take on his world (although this has recently been sullied by the characteristic contrariness of the fourth year of life), willing to try almost anything, especially if his brothers show him it is safe first, ready to take on life with a run and a tackle.
Right now, however, I am not seeing any of these things. I am seeing three little boys with complete disregard for bedtime rules they are completely familiar with, which have been repeated and enforced over and over (for years with the oldest ones!), and with complete disregard for how their demands and resistance affect me or their daddy when he is forced to deal with it, as he has been most nights for several months now. And so I write this to remind myself again.