And it’s the year of angels… I hope.

Today my baby boy turned 11 years old. The number 11 has always been my lucky number. When I drove up to my shop, the first time, I should have known that I would be there for a long time… When the address was 1111 East Landstreet.

Insert column left my sweet baby Jacoby in his eleventh year. Jacoby is my strong-willed child. Out of the three, he got all of that. God gave every one of us free will, but my goodness, Jacoby cherishes that gift more than the other two combined. With my other two kids, they have always pretty much fell in line without much of a fuss. But with this kid – you tell him about his clothes, his free time, what he reads – anything that he feels that he should have complete control of – he will fight back like a caged opossum.

I am learning, that I don’t have to force him to what I want, but I also don’t have to give in to his tantrums or demands. So, this year, he wears sports shorts and t-shirts to school. I am of the belief you dress for school and church. I am now mentally prepping him for middle school, and what I expect him to wear. But we scroll pinterest and find things that he believes would be good for him, also.

I am listening to him FaceTime his grandparents right now for his birthday wishes. He sounds like a politician or a reporter, telling about his day. Very in command. Very confident. Yet he’s only eleven.

And although it’s funny to hear him,  being the parent struggling to guide a strong-willed child to Christ-like maturity – is not so amusing. I have cried more tears than you can imagine. It’s relentless, it’s exhausting. Sometimes, he seems so disrespectful, it’s infuriating. His behavior at times can seem so ridiculously defiant, that it seems hopeless. Like, literally, I said this week “Why did you not sit down when the principal told you to!? Just sit down. It’s two seconds? Where is your want of self preservation?” He replied, My pants were too tight and dug in my belly. Girls don’t have to sit down if they don’t wear shorts under their skirts. Why do I need to sit down, when girls are standing? I wasn’t acting out. I wasn’t being disrespectful. I wasn’t being rude. I wasn’t in anyone’s way. I won’t let someone cause me pain, because they want power. I wasn’t rude, mommy – ask anyone.”

Are you proud or mad? MMMMM. Both. The maelstrom of emotions he can create is all absorbing. And then, last night, I hear this. My sweetie came by after to work to say goodnight. I was finishing a test for school. And I hear laughter and talking upstairs. I walk up, and the two of them are laying in the dark. I ask what is going on. Jacoby says, “Just having some man time. Let me have that.” Bro. Chill. I’m cool. But understand this – at the end of the day – I’m still the boss of you, little boy.

This kid.

I am learning that with this one, I have to give in on some little things. But the big things are non-negotiable, no matter how much he tries to negotiate. But what I have forgotten, is while my self-esteem is taking a bruising, so is his. Beneath that tough I-don’t-care-and-you-can’t-make-me attitude is a seriously wounded heart. It hurts to always be “the difficult one,” “the stubborn one,” the one rejected by classmates for being “too bossy.”  From researching all of this, I learned that “The compliant child typically enjoys higher self-esteem than the strong-willed child. . . . Only 19 percent of compliant teenagers either disliked themselves (17 percent) or felt extreme self-hatred (2 percent). Of the very strong-willed teenagers, 35 percent disliked themselves and 8 percent experienced extreme self-hatred.”

That broke me.

So this year. Is going to be a good year. A year of guidance. Balance. Equality. Duality. And most of all, Kindness. I will be a good momma to my strong willed boy. And be grateful that he is courageous and strong. And teach him when to use it.

I’m so proud of my boy.

Love fully. Live Fully. Shine On.

Sat Nam.

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