Parenting Pumpkins

4632_101717536480_7890849_nThis boy. He has given me and his daddy a run for our money since his birth.

37526_419902851480_1243979_nWhen I was pregnant, we didn’t know if our firstborn was a boy or a girl (deep down inside I knew, but I didn’t want to get too excited). So we called him/her Pumpkin.

Pumpkin came out Jack, stubborn, headstrong, spirited and sweet from forever. He wants his way and he likes to be in control. For the first few years, he kept me on my toes, but nothing that I and a few parenting books couldn’t handle.

Then we moved to England.

I cannot tell you the amount of nights that I have spent crying into my pillow, heart breaking for my firstborn’s own broken heart.

I cannot tell you how I have hoped that “the first six months” were “just a phase,” and that he would get used to living thousands and thousands of miles away from our tight-knit family and circle of friends and maybe someday even like it.

I cannot tell you the times I have begged and pleaded with God for help when Nick was gone and our son was at his worst.

I cannot tell you how many times I have questioned and hated myself, thinking anyone else would be a better mother to this boy than me.

I cannot count the mental wars I have had, retracing every step from conception to the present, wondering if I had done something wrong to him that he was paying me back for.

I cannot recall how many times I have wondered if Jack will turn out okay, or if he will one day hate us.

536381_10151315097756481_498831793_nJackĀ  is incredibly smart, sensitive, clever and full of leadership potential. But we clash. There is never any yelling — that’s not my middle-child type at all — but there have been so many moments when I went to bed wondering, God, where did I go wrong? I was never this disobedient or sassy!

And then. Two nights ago, Jack asked me if I had ever sold any songs, since I sell articles all the time. I told him yes, I’ve written lots of songs. He asked to hear one. So I pulled out a dusty notebook and started playing the one on top. I hadn’t thought of or sung it in at least eight years.

It’s called Pumpkin’s Song.


Do you know who I am
Though we haven’t yet met
Do you know how much I love you
Though I haven’t seen your face yet
And I don’t know how that can all be
Yet I know that more than a life
Is growing inside of me

When you hear me praying
Do you know that it’s for you?
Sometimes I wonder
Do you talk to God like I do?
And though you’re a part of life of unknowns
I know for sure now my heart beats
For more than just my own

As I launched into the chorus: So now I sing a lullaby for you/Now I dream a mother’s dream for you, I heard a sound to my right and stopped playing. Sitting on the piano bench, my handsome 8-year-old son was crying. Downright, deep-throated sobbing. “Jack, what’s wrong?”

He threw his arms around me. “I just never realized anyone loved me this much to write me such a pretty song.”

I managed to finish the line: I wish I could see you smile/As I sing you this love song for my unborn child.

Nick came in just then from a run, sweaty and thirsty. Jack ran to him, crying, “Please hold me, I don’t think I can finish listening.”

I finished out the last verse:

I can’t wait to tell you
How your daddy and I met
And how we pray for you every night
When we lay down in bed
I’d like to think that you can feel our love
Flowing from my heart to yours
Though I know it’s never enough

The boy who has broken my heart so many times wiped his eyes and said, “I just feel so happy, I didn’t know anyone loved me that much.”

11011468_10152909552091481_2509068051073692599_oNick left to shower and put our other two down to bed. Jack and I sat there on the piano bench in silence, just being still. The Pumpkin I once held inside of me, for just a moment, transformed into the magical coach that held me.

Jack whispered, “Mom, I’m never going to forget this moment.”

Me, either. And I’m never going to forget to not only say that I love my boy, but make sure he hears it in a language his heart understands.

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