because when he's ready, I'm there to listen

On the way home from church last week, Hudson started talking to us about Sunday school.

Sunday mornings in the car usually involve lots of voices talking over each other. We turn down the music so we can try to pick up on at least one thought from one of the boys. And it’s rare that Hudson just starts telling us a story spontaneously.

I’ve heard from other boy moms that the day will come when my boys will stop talking to me. They won’t open up anymore. The day will likely come when they’ll come back around, but between now and then, there will be a day when they start keeping things to themselves.

We’ve learned with Hudson that it usually will take us doing something with him to get him to talk about his day or to tell us what is bothering him. We’ll work puzzles and he’ll open up. Or we’ll be throwing the ball and he’ll talk about his day. He has used these opportunities to tell us when someone did something funny or when someone hurt his feelings.

On this particular day in the car, Hudson started telling us about his friends in Sunday school. I’d ask him about someone and he’d say, “He’s a nice boy” or “she’s a nice girl.” Very simple.

I asked him about another child in his class that day and he said, “No, she’s not a nice girl.” And I said, “Oh no. Why not?”

And very matter-of-factly, Hudson said, “Because she said I was ugly.”

My heart sank. How could we possibly have a child who is old enough to deal with something like this?

Todd and I locked eyes, and Todd said to Hudson, “Well, what did you say to her?”

Hudson smiled and very innocently said, “I told her that I’m not ugly. I’m a nice boy.”

It was so simple. And in Hudson’s mind, “ugly” means “not nice.” Because that’s how we use the word at home.

I know that I can’t protect him from everything, but when his sweet little voice insisted that he was a nice boy, I started to cry. My heart broke. I was wearing my sunglasses and Hudson couldn’t see my tears, but Todd reached over and grabbed my hand. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world was wrong with me.

I don’t want my boy to have hurt feelings. But I loved his sweet, quiet confidence.

We know that kids say all kinds of things to hurt each other’s feelings, and I know that Hudson will do the same to someone someday, if he hasn’t already.

We’re praying that we will raise brave kids who can face the day and face their peers with confidence.

In that moment, we didn’t get all deep with Hudson. We told him that we were sorry that his feelings had been hurt, but we were proud of him for not fighting with her and for telling her that he was, indeed, a nice boy.

And just as quickly as it started, our conversation ended. Hudson started talking in his funny made-up language that he uses to try to make Hayes laugh, and all the loud noise in the car started up again.

Maybe that day will come when he stops opening up to me. Or maybe it will be just like it was that day, where Hudson runs in to tell me something really important, really quickly, and then he runs out to do more “important” things.

No matter what happens, I’ll always be there to listen.


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  1. says

    Aww, what a sweetheart. You’re raising a great little guy, he handled that so well. Sorry you had to go through that, we mamas hurt worse for our kids than anyone else. I’ve always said I’d take a million rejections and heartbreaks over seeing my kids go through one.

  2. says

    Something very similar happend with Bryson not to long ago and it tore me to pieces. I think for all mother’s it’s hard to watch your child go through something like that no matter how big or small it is. I loved Hudson’s response and how brave it must have been for him to tell that little girl that. Such a sweet boy you are raising!

  3. says

    That was the perfect way to handle the situation! I get teary when my daughter tells me stories like that too and the Mama Bear comes out in me. I want to protect my children from the world but these things are part of growing up. That does not make it any easier on our Mama heart!

  4. says

    Oh that just breaks my heart and is my biggest fear for my little boy! I think the way he handled the situation reflects the guidance and confidence you all have given him. I’m sure you already know this, but you should be SO PROUD of his response! I can only pray that my little boy would respond in the same manner.

  5. Molly says

    It makes me so sad that a child that young can use such hurtful words. You’re raising your boys right! As for that other child…there is only one place that they learn that behaviour, and that is from the parents.

    • says

      Hey Molly! When kids get to this age, they start repeating things they hear their older siblings say or just older friends. It’s not unusual, and I’m sure Hudson has said something hurtful to someone at some point. But I’m proud of the way Hudson handled it that day. 🙂

  6. says

    gosh. this mommyhood thing is so tough. its so heartbreaking to see or hear our little ones hurt, but what a blessing to see that he handled it so well! I’ve found with our boys (especially the oldest) that the car seems to be their “safe” place to open up. I’m not sure exactly what it is about that time in the car but just about every time in the last couple of years that our 11 year old has opened up to me, its been in the car while driving! and i’m starting to see the same pattern with our 7 year old! but like you, no matter when or where, I’ll always be ready to listen!

    • says

      I love it. For us, it’s in the car or when we’re playing cars. It’s like he thinks the attention is on him, but not totally on him so it’s “safe” to open up. Whenever he’s willing to do it, I’m willing to listen! 🙂

  7. katie ferguson says

    Oh, I just love that sweet boy. What a wonderful young man you’re raising. It made my heart sink reading about little boys & girls that age already being ugly (we use that word that way too) to one another already. I worry about so many little things like that with Mary Eleanor already. I guess you can’t prepare your heart for that stuff, but you can prepare your child to rise above it? Love you to you and your boys. I hope Mother’s Day was wonderful despite that story. 😉

  8. says

    My oldest son is age 20. He still talks to me and has never stopped even throughout his teen years. When people ask me how I have maintained this relationship I say, “I respect his feelings.” What i mean by this is that even when he feels a certain way that seems unimportant or naive to me, I know those feelings are very real to him, so I listen, value what he has to say, and then do my very best to speak truth into his life.
    I think one of the most difficult parts of parenting has been learning to watch your child be hurt by others and having no control over the situation. it starts young. I feel your tears, because I have also cried them. It sounds like you have a very sweet little guy. You are doing a great job!
    Happy belated Mother’s Day to you!

    • says

      Oh Jennifer, I love this so much. I’m so encouraged. Thank you for saying that. I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I figure out how to handle those boy conversations throughout the years. Thank you!

  9. says

    I have to admit, I was playing with Will the other day when randomly he said something was being “stupid.” I almost fell out, because I *know* he heard this from me, because I’d said it right in front of him, in a careless moment of frustration about something. I’d hoped he hadn’t picked it up, but sure enough he had.
    As a mom who’s made a mistake with her language, I can see how VERY easily this can happen, and how easily a kid passes that along in play, maybe not even knowing what he or she is saying. This is a good lesson for all of us, to monitor our own tongues, then to teach the proper usage of words when we hear it come back around, whether it came from us or the playground.
    You did a great job handling this, Erin! I love just the whole encouragement to be on our toes about this, protecting hearts but always teaching, teaching, teaching.

  10. says

    Oh Erin, I can only imagine how much your heart sank in that moment. But I must say that Hudson’s response to that little girl speaks volumes as the the wonderful job you and Todd have already done in raising a little gentleman. Keep up the good work!

  11. says

    This just breaks my heart, but I love Hudson’s response! We had an issue with one of the kid’s in Kaden’s preschool class being mean to him earlier in the year. Thankfully, it resolved easily and the boys enjoy playing with each other.

    I understand how you feel about the boys talking/not talking with you, too. K.C. has gotten to the point where we’ll ask him about his day during dinner and he won’t remember, but later as we’re playing or getting him ready for bed, he’ll start talking. I love that he wants to share with us, even if it’s not when we ask.

  12. says

    This made me cry. Poor Hudson. My son goes to preschool and last week he wore a new shirt that my parents got him in Key West. He was so proud to wear it, and then the other boys told him it wasn’t cool. It definitely hurt his feelings, but it didn’t stop him from wearing it again, which made me proud.

  13. says

    You must feel so proud of how Hudson handled that! Instilling self-confidence in kids seems like one of the best things a parent can help do.

  14. says

    I teared right up over Hudson’s story. My daughter will be 4 in July, and while I don’t think she’s had her feelings hurt by a comment, I know it’s coming. It just makes my stomach hurt to think of her being sad over someone else’s words, especially since I know my feelings still get hurt at 30 and it still doesn’t feel good.

  15. says

    That just made me tear up. I have the same fears about my kids. I want to protect them from mean words that are sometimes said to them. I want to shield them and keep them sweet and innocent.

  16. says

    This made me cry. The thought of someone hurting his feelings. 🙁

    Amelia has been teased about still wearing pull-ups and has told me it hurts her feelings and I always go to my room and cry after talking to her. Just knowing her little heart hurt made mine hurt. I tell Alex that I’m not sure how I’ll make it through the teenage/adult years. Not being able to shield them from that kind of hurt is so hard.

    You’re doing a great job with your two boys. Keep doing what you’re doing, Mama!

  17. anonymous says

    i read this at 6am this morning…under the covers…on my phone. i had woken up to take my temperature, grabbed my phone to record the reading, saw the notification for a new blue-eyed bride post and couldn’t resist.

    my heart (and eyes) welled up, erin. i’m (clearly) wanting a child, waiting on His timing, doing my best to parent my stepdaughter while being respectful of her bio mom, dealing with own mother’s declining health….and then there’s mother’s day. the day where i’m the least certain of my place in my new family.

    motherhood is vast and deep and complicated.

    your post just reminded me of that in a profound way. i’m at once struck by what an amazing, AMAZING mother you are. how well you’ve taught your boys. how brave hudson is. how loved he must feel. and how grateful i am for the moments i get to spend with my precious stepdaughter.

    i’m sure it’s typical for blended families, but there seem to be so many more awkward moments and consequently, the need for so many talks to clear the air of heaviness after weird exchanges or hostile drop offs or questions from strangers. right now they are all initiated by me. make no mistake – these are super challenging for me…i’d much rather pretend there isn’t a knot in my stomach, but i do it anyway because i’m the adult. it’s my job as a parent to i ‘normalize’ uncomfortable feelings and model that it’s okay to talk about them. i pray that even if my stepdaughter never opens up to me the deep pain she no doubt carries about her parent’s divorce and the changes that brought to her life, she knows i’m there to listen. like hudson and hayes will grow up knowing.

    i’ll say it again….motherhood: vast and deep and complicated. and profound.

    i’m reminded that no matter how complicated it can be (fortunately not between my stepdaughter and i – but between her mom and my husband and i), no matter how seemingly *every* family situation for us seems to have different rules and expectations than everyone one else’s family…no matter what…this is MY family and i’m blessed to have it. THIS is motherhood.

    i ramble. thank you for sharing your heart and your precious family with us. you are SUCH a good mom.

  18. says

    This hurts my heart. I know more, far worse things are coming for my girls in this arena…one day. But I just pray I can have wisdom in how to handle it. You did good. 🙂 He knows who he is because of you!

  19. Michelle says

    This is my biggest fear as a parent…the how to deal with hurt feelings and broken hearts. Because I think it hurts so much more to think of my children’s feelings being bruised than it did to go through it myself as a child and teenager. I’m in prayer everyday about this!!!! Beautiful post!!!

  20. says

    Sweet boy. This would crush my heart as well. I know you guys are raising him the best you can and I know he will does and will have such a good heart! I don’t know how prepared I am to handle this stuff either, but reading posts gives me some insight, I think. xo

  21. Rachel says

    Oh my! That always cuts us Momma’s deep when our kids tell us what others say. My four year old, Garrett told us one other boy in his Sunday school class kept telling him he was tired of him and didn’t want to play with him. It broke my heart!

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