Friday, June 19

motherhood is beautiful
and hard and, often, way over
my head. especially when it
comes to tough love.

one of my sons lives in a city
close by. he is handsome, brilliant.
can talk to anyone, and write circles
around me.

but living skills?
keeping his word?
meaning to, but doing it is
another story altogether.

i drove to where he lives
ten days ago because he was
needing a bicycle. his walking
to work, two hours a day, demoralized
me, to say nothing of him.

so, i picked him up.
took him to o'brien's market
for his favorite, tri-tip sandwich,
and headed to walmart to check out

mom! i have a great idea!
we could use your bank card,
and get me clear-wire service for
my computer. it's only $29 a mo! goes up to $44 after three

BUT, mom, i have a job, and i
could pay you every month. like,
today is wednesday, and i get paid
friday. i'll give you the first month then.

for a brief moment,
my brain decided to sit on a shelf
somewhere, and i went along
with him. we bounded into the
clearwire store. i asked if we had time
to test it and return it. yes, one week.''

i laid my card on the counter, and we
walked out. tall and proud. i had the happiest
son in the world.

well, friday came, and i called about my
first payment. our agreement. his words
began to slide through me with a chill. a
dark realization. this utterly-amazing son
of mine, finding it hard to navigate life. not
doing what he said he wiould do, had just
displayed his life-worn behavior.

darling. you are an adult.
do NOT tell me you will do something
if you aren't. a person's word is his
character. shapes the form of his life
journey. establishes trust or negates

i bought $50 wowrth of minutes for my phone
so you can always reach me.

AND, MOM, i was so lonely.
so down. so i took a nice girl
(you would REALLY like her!)
on a date.

the first month, and you already
have failed on your word.

i walked around for two days.
disgusted with myself. my son
does not drink or smoke or do drugs.
his addiction is a specific game online.

i knew better.
again, in a subtle moment of weakness,
(after all, we, as a family, had been through
the wilderness and the flood), i had created
a mess for myself.

and i knew
i'd face hell for
my decision.

day seven arrived.
i drove to where my son
lives, and knocked on the door.
i asked him for the clearwire box
and chords. within moments,
i was scorched by the heat of
rage spewing everywhere.

you are not worthy to be a mother.
you are worse than my worst girlfriend.
ouch! his girlfriends are the bottom-of-the-list girls.
i don't ever want to see you again.
i am going to change my last name.
i am no longer in this family, and i don't
want to EVER again be your son!!

i'll leave out the most choice words.
nasty, and outside my vocabulary.

listen, honey, i know i've not been perfect.
i know i've failed you. will you forgive me?


well, no matter what,
i'm taking the box back to
the store. of you can't keep
your word the first month,
there's no question i can't depend
on it.

finally, i quietly walked next door
to the woman in charge of the program.
with young people, 18-21, chosen.
to teach life skills. free counselling. etc.
i needed support. i meant business, and
every single second of this scenario was
excruciating. if i wilted now, all the
tough love i'd doled out for the last 8 mos.
would go down the tube.

i'm a lover. let's be happy.
for the first time, ever, i had
stuck to my guns. unbending
to the schrewed manipulation.

the director
walked out with the box.
i cried, and thanked her for ALL
she was doing for my son.

ann, give him time. it'll be okay.

it sure didn't feel okay.

as i was almost to the freeway
for home, my son called. sobbing.

please don't get on the freeway, yet.
i didn't mean all those horrible things i
said, mom. you and i are close. right?!
i know i'm the black sheep in the family, but...

you are NOT the black sheep in our family.
not for one single second has that thought EVER
entered my mind. i'm so proud to be your mom.
i utterly believe in you. you are my son with
a calling on his life.

i drove back to where he lived.
we stopped and bought two of his
favorite dvd's he could watch on
his computer, and some groceries.

if we don't learn to stand
by our word growing up, then we
are adults still playing the same games.
still manipulating. we become grown-ups,
doing the same games, but more polished.
smoother. easier to dress ourselves in ways
not noticed at a glance.

i wish every morning had a clean,
summer sky. but they don't. some
days the wind swirls. thunder roars. people
have foul moods.

that is what the Redeemer, the Savior,
is all about. redemption. cleansing of
the carnality we are born with.

tough love.
it is not pretty.
but it is the foundation
of our destinies. we owe
it to our children to live through
the the other
God can depend on us to be
His disciples. His world-changers.


  1. please know that your doing really matters... we have 7 adopted children... and life is hard, and it might not get any easier, but God is good... all the time! and if they are doing well at 36....thank you for you words...don't stop!

  2. Thank you for your blog, your speaking engagements, your books, and sharing your life stories. They have meant so much to me over the last 30 years. Encouraged me to continue experiencing God. Sometimes I don't know what to say to my daughter, but just listening to your stories helps me to see we are just like you and others. May God bless you and your sons. Yes, please continue writing.

  3. Beautiful Ann.! I'm so glad I've found you. As I read through the entries on your blog, I find your honesty...your authenticity...still refreshes me. As a young woman, you called me to love. You convinced me that even as an ordinary, average girl, I had the power to change the world.

    I have to tell you why I even looked for you. I have been serving as a missionary for 11 years now with my family in Eastern Europe. This morning we, as leadership, met to plan a retreat for the single women on our team. As we prayed and considered the needs and hopes for what this time will accomplish, my friend said, "Ok...who would you dream of to minister to us?" Out of the blue...ok, no...the Holy Spirit Himself prompted your name.

    So, believing that God works in mysterious ways, we googled you. I don't know if you'd ever be interested in speaking to a group of missionaries who work with youth in former communist countries, or if we could ever afford you. But you are someone I dream of sharing with our beautiful women. I just wanted you to know.

  4. On my ugly days.... I'm thanful for....

    "that is what the Redeemer, the Savior,
    is all about. redemption. cleansing of
    the carnality we are born with."