I knew from the beginning that Lil Man would be an awesome big brother, but I wasn’t totally prepared for how my heart would swell with love and pride as I watched him interact with his Bubby.
He’s been amazingly patient with Bubby, rarely mentioning the crying and enduring the sudden drop in attention gracefully. Lil Man always wants to read to his baby brother, hunts down pacifiers and comforts him, tells his friends to hush up so they don’t wake him. He asks if Bubby could please sleep in his bed…just in case there are monsters under the crib. (He likes to throw out logical reasons as to why we should agree to whatever it is he’s wanting. Its one of his things.)
Recently, however, Lil Man hesitantly told me, “Mommy, baby brothers are kind of a pain in the butt. And sometimes in the head…when he cries so much.” I laughed, and then told him, “You can be kind of a pain in the butt, too, and so can I!” (Maybe not the best thing to say, but it became a teachable moment!)
This prompted a discussion about how we can ALL be “butt-pains” at times, especially on our bad days. And while he was almost certain he’d never been one of those, he agreed that being hungry..or tired..or grumpy-without-reason..or hurt…can make you feel badly and it shows when you act out. Lil Man’s eyes lit up as he realized his frustration was understood and totally normal. He felt the acceptance he needed in that moment, and was able to take the lesson to heart.
We talked about how people, especially babies, don’t usually mean to be butt-pains. Sometimes it just happens in life as we react to the situations we are in or as a result of our needs going unmet. Sometimes, people act like butt-pains because they never learned a different way to handle what they’re going through. I explained that we can’t really change the person who is being a butt-pain, we can only change the way we respond to them in those moments.
This conversation was a good reminder for me to allow God’s grace to guide my response to others instead of acting out of my own hurt and pride. I realize that some butt-pains won’t ever be resolved as the unhealthy behaviors in others continue and escalate into forms of abuse and/or manipulation. But, while I don’t need to allow these things to keep repeating in my life, I can let go of the anger and allow healing to take place so that I can become a healthier version of myself and reflect God’s mercy and love instead of my own bitterness.
My sweet boys are teaching me that there is usually more to learn in every butt-pain moment than there is in the perfectly happy times, and that we should be grateful for both as we walk through our days. Lil Man really loves his Bubby.