Midterm exams for moms

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you’re in college and it’s exam time, but you just realized you’re enrolled in a class you forgot to attend the whole semester?  And now you have to take the exam and you are SO unprepared?  It’s a horrible dream.  I always wake up with a tight chest and lingering anxiety.

See this kid?

He is my oldest.  He just turned eight a couple weeks ago, and this weekend he will be baptized.  And I’ve got that same nightmare feeling.  It’s like this is the big test of my motherhood, and I do not feel ready.  My time for preparing him to make major covenants and lead a life of free agency is over.  (I know this is a little exaggerated and melodramatic, but hello?  Eight already?  Gah.)

And remember how I said before that I think Satan gets a free 90-day trial before their baptism? I’m sure of it.  He and I have been at odds lately. (Grant and I, not Satan and I.  Maybe.) At odds.  He has been pushing all my buttons, and I’ve felt angry and exasperated and thoroughly convinced that I have somehow failed at preparing him for this major event in his life.  Oh, he knows lots and lots of things about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the promises he’ll be making, and what it all means.  But he’s still just a punk little kid who makes me want to put him in time-out until he’s 18.  Evidence:

“I think this family is dumb.  I think your dumb too.  I wish this family didn’t even exist.  Hate, Grant” (Note he penned on a paper towel and then handed me a couple nights ago at bedtime.  Why so angry? Because he didn’t get ice cream after throwing water on his brother.  Right after our “Love at Home” family home evening lesson.)

So I guess I just have to really count on the Holy Ghost to take it from here?  Either that or the ethereal hope that when he gets older, he’ll like me again and his heart will be flooded with all the things I taught him over the years and he’ll turn out all great and stuff.  Oh boy, Holy Ghost, work your magic.  Some of you experienced mothers out there better tell me that this is going to be just fine.


26 thoughts on “Midterm exams for moms

  1. It’s all going to be just fine. Just fine, I tell you. (Although, can you let me know when that actually will happen?, because all my kids still hate me right now.) (Sorry.)

    Seriously, though, I am so happy for you regarding the baptism day. My girls’ special days rank right up there with my best days ever. (Which is probably good to remember, since, you know, they hate me and stuff.) 🙂

  2. I promise that this too shall pass! My sweet son became not so sweet right before he was baptized – we were at odds about everything and I was beyond frustrated with him. His less the delightful attitude lasted for a few months after he was baptized and I was beginning to mourn that I really may have lost my tender hearted little boy for good. However, after a few months of testing the waters, he seemed to come around again. His sweetness returned with an element of maturity, if that makes sense. My daughter will be turning eight in August and I’m bracing myself for what may be heading our way. 🙂 Hang in there!

  3. I remember someone telling me that kids go through a really bad phase right before they are baptized. I found that to be very true with my oldest. Have fun:)

  4. Sounds like you are doing great! If he was happy with you all the time, it would mean you aren’t doing your job. Keep up the good work!

  5. I agree with Vicki. You are doing your job. Also if you are interested the brain does a have a growth period where it is almost adult size and the reasoning skills are beginning to develop. So basically your son is gaining a new part of his brain. I think it is facinating that Heavenly Father has the critical reasoning (choosing between right and wrong), social development, and ethical decision making happen at around the same time that the Holy Ghost is given as a gift. Isn’t that amazing? All are choices that the Holy Ghost can help with. (I love to learn how the brain changes and develops to understand behavior.) There are also some hormonal changes in the brain…. I could go on and on……

      • There are a lot of good references out there. Mostly in psychology and sociology text books. There are books on Amazon like Neuroscience of Cognitive Development: The Role of Experience and the Developing Brain by Nelson, Thomas, and de Haan or another is Your Child’s Growing Mind by Healy. A good place to start is with Jean Piaget. He developed a theory before the use of electric mapping. After electric mapping scientists literally mapped what part of the brain does what. If you type into your search engine “brain institute children” you come up with a lot hits. I found a Cliffs Notes version for my comment last night from an on-line source about brain development (http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Cognitive-Development-Age-711.topicArticleId-26831,articleId-26782.html). Even with the cheat, it is a good overview, but the other books will go further in depth. This information was helpful with my career before I became a Mom.

  6. Oh my goodness – I’m so glad that I’m not alone – my nearly 8 year old is going through the same thing & I thought today – as I put her in time out . . . “I have completely failed at preparing her for baptism”

    Chin up & we’ll get through it!

  7. Ha! “Midterm exams” … perfect description.

    My oldest (he’ll be seven soon, so we’re comin’ up …) recently told me that he “wished he had chose Satan in heaven because this family is MEAN.”

    I had taken away his computer privileges for pushing his brother.


  8. It really does turn out fine. Hang in there and the sweet moments will be back and he’ll think you’re the best again. Then he will turn 14 and you’ll be the evil mom again, and that will actually last for quite a while longer, a couple years, then you’ll be awesome once again. I’ve gone through the cycle with all my kids… My oldest of 5 is 21 and my youngest is 12. It’s a roller coaster, but it’s all worth it. Just keep the gospel close to your heart and it’ll all be fine 🙂

  9. Gah! You ARE the experienced mother to me and this does not give me hope that my 5 year old will grow out of this phase!!! 🙂 I’m hopeful that after his baptism, the Holy Ghost will get a 90 day free trial! (Plus eternity afterward).
    Oh, and about the dreams? I seriously seriously was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who had that exact dream!!! All. The. Time.

  10. Yeah. I have my worries, too. My oldest are already baptized but about one of them I often wonder, does he have any clue? Will he ever get it? It is frustrating but I mostly just remember that I have to set a good example. Teach all I can, discipline to reinforce important rules and set an example of someone living happily because she chooses to do what’s right as often as possible. I really need to get better about that. Really.

  11. I hate to burst your bubble…11 was way worst…for us. Going throuh 11 for the second time. But I can say that something magical happened when 12 came along and they recieve the priesthood. My oldest is now 14 and is starting somtimes to act human again. 🙂

  12. I wish that I could tell you that it gets better after baptism, but my oldest just turned 9 and is getting worse! He can’t be nice to save his life. I think the 90-day trial turns into a multiple year subscription! He will probably be nice for a little while after the big event! He might even be able to make it through the day! We do have moments of peace and we relish them, so not all is lost.
    Sorry for the downer…this is our 3rd snow day in a row and I really need my kids to go to school!!

  13. It really will be fine… about a month or two before Gabe was baptized he seriously turned into a demon child… oh man, it was hard. And even my sweet Zoe struggled before her big day. You know we’ve got these beautiful valiant spirits in our home and Satan does NOT want them on the Lord’s side. He does NOT want them to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. Hang in there…

    But just to warn you… when Gabe was ordained a deacon… the months leading up to that were WAY worse.

    In fact, when my parents and I and my niece (proxy for my sister) were sealed in the temple in 2008, the day before our sealing we were all arguing and being, well, not Christ-like.

    Just pray extra hard to find the sweet moments and to be the peacemaker 🙂 I know him baptism will be special, you guys are awesome!

  14. Someday…

    There will be a “someday.” My 18-year-old son recently texted “love you too” in response to my text telling him that I loved him. This is a great leap forward from the times he would yell back “Well, I don’t love you!”

    Someday, I hope to hear “love you too” from his actual mouth, but progress has been made. I’ll take it in a text from Idaho.

    Those preteen years are difficult on a parent. I wish you well.

  15. I had to laugh out loud at Grants note! So creative expressing himself in that sort of note. I hope saved the note to bring out when he is a lot older and thankful that you did your job as a loving mother! You are awesome! May the force continue to be with you as your buttons get pushed!

  16. First of all, I thought I was the only one who had those dreams! They’re a regular with me, sometimes also featuring the locker that I forgot my combination to and the violin lesson I hadn’t practiced for.

    My oldest had a terrible time before she was baptized as well- I was wanting to shake her at times and yell “Don’t you get it!?”. Of course, that would have defeated the whole purpose… Her baptism was wonderful- it felt like a reward for all the sleepless nights and heartaches if the first 8 years.

    And I firmly believe that Heavenly Father is merciful, especially with the children, and that they will only be judged in relation to what they understand.

  17. I didn’t have to time to read the other comments so what I am about to type may just be a repeat…sorry…You will absolutely be amazed the difference you will see in the next year of your child’s life after baptism. Will he be a perfect angel. No. Will you witness him making good decisions, right when it looks like he is going to make a bad one? YES. You will be amazed…And I agree that Satan is giving it his last best shot right before baptism. I have served in Primary for years and it is the same for every child…And yes I have dreams about exams like that all the time. Ever have the one where you are back in high school and come back to school after Christmas break only to realize you can’t find your locker or remember your schedule? I hate that one.

  18. I’m no help. Parenting absolutely exhausts me. I do think it will be alright in the long run, but I feel like I’m constantly butting heads with someone. I guess that happens with 5 kids. That’s what worries me the most, that I’m just too tired to parent more actively. Or maybe, it’s actually better. Maybe it helps me to chill about the things that don’t really matter and choose my battles carefully. My concern right now is my 5 year old. Oh. my. goodness. She is HARD! She is my greatest parenting struggle. I love her immensely, but I often don’t like her much. Such a stinker. Someday her personality traits will serve her well, I am sure.

  19. I remember well feeling the same way. There will be times you will feel the rewards of your love and hard work. Hang in there, you two. You are doing great!

  20. I am so with you on those dreams. Ever since I graduated from college I have dreams like that at least twice a year. They feel SO real, and I am so grateful when I wake up! My oldest is turning eight in a couple months and I like you don’t feel ready for this part of my life. Everything will be fine.

    Love your blog by the way!

  21. Ooh. Ethan will be baptized in a few months. It will be interesting to see how these next few months go. I remember turning 8 and talking to the bishop about baptism – I couldn’t answer the questions he was asking me about why I was getting baptized (because my parents had never taught me), so I’m glad I have been teaching Ethan all along so he knows why he will be baptized!

    Good luck this weekend! What an exciting time in Grant’s life.

  22. I’m no mother, but I remember saying mean things to my parents from time to time. Only my mom prbly was not as nice as you. She had an iron fist, but was loving when she needed to be. If I ever wrote something like that, she would have taken more privileges away. “Don’t cut off the hand that feeds you” is something she’d always say. Kids don’t see the big picture yet. And they’re super impulsive. So don’t feel too bad. If we still said all the things we thought, we’d sound like 7-8 year old kids too.

  23. He’s totally a sociopath.
    heh. JOKING.

    But that’s what goes through my head sometimes, when I have these moments with the boys. And then I try to remember it’s normal…normal…normal…
    and it’s probably all my fault
    but it’s normal normal normal.

    ugh. I feel ya. 🙂

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