“I know” are two of the most uttered words in our house. By the little people, that is. I know better than to think I know very much at all. One thing that I definitely know is that when one of my boys says, “I know”, it translates into “I’m doing something else that I want to do and I may or may not get to whatever it is you are telling me to do despite the fact you’ve probably told me at least a half a dozen times and I will probably forget because I’m a boy and I’m nine and because I know everything and you are just a mom. Can I have a snack?”

For a while, I enacted a fine of 25 cents for every time those words were said. I couldn’t keep up with the enforcement, however, since all their money comes from me and is allegedly earned by doing chores that they “know” they have to do, but rarely get done because they are too busy telling me that they “know” about them…so it was sort of a vicious circle in that any money that had the potential to be earned was basically staying in my pocket because doing the chores were simply “known” about but not done…or at least not done without a lot of eye-rolling, stomping, and “I KNOWS!” being tossed about.

It must be nice to know so much. The older I get I feel like the less I know. How does that work?

But I do know a few things:

  1. I am so tired of being a nagging mother. There are times when I cringe at the sound of my own voice.
  2. If I get ignored or sassed more than 5 times, I’m likely to start shouting. Or ranting about how unappreciated I am.
  3. If one of my children starts shouting at me, I see red.
  4. I’m trying hard to be calm, peaceful, and mellow.
  5. My expectations aren’t very high.
  6. I’m getting better at reacting to certain familiar complaints, sulking, whining, etc. with indifference.
  7. Surely, one day, the light bulb will go off in the boys’ heads and they will realize what an absolute delight I am as a mother when they do what is asked of them without a problem.

A few nights ago I had a dream where I was being chased by sharks. I was swimming as hard and as fast as I could, but I could see their shadows all around me and I had this moment of knowing I couldn’t out swim them and that I was going to need help. So, I said a silent prayer asking for help and just before a shark chomped down on me, he was blindsided by a dolphin that beat him repeatedly with his nose on the side of his face until I could swim away.

There are a couple of ways to interpret this dream, but I think that both the sharks and the dolphin are parts of me. The sharks are the anger, the temper, the feelings of frustration that threaten to consume me. As hard as I try to swim away, they are always lurking in the depths, following me, ready to attack. The dolphin is my good side, my god side, the smart, tough, gentle, strong side. The side I cheer for, the side I pray for. The side that sometimes feels like the underdog, but in reality is the champion. The side that will protect me and allow me to swim in safe, calm waters.

I just need to know this. I need to know that part of me is the stronger part. I’m a dolphin, not a shark.

This also reminds me of the parable of the two wolves.

Image taken from Pinterest and this community:

Image taken from Pinterest and this community:

This is so easy to forget. Especially, as I mentioned, when I start seeing red. That is like blood in the water for the shark. But what I *know* is that I belong on the side of the dolphin, the good wolf, the white hat guys, the underdog champions, the light side.

So, maybe next time I hear the words “I know”, instead of letting them be a trigger for the sharks to come out, I will remember that there are sharks and dolphins at play inside my sons too. That they are also learning how to balance their selfishness, their greed, their anger, and their ego with patience, kindness, responsibility, and generosity. That they are learning how to balance being independent little boys with wanting their mommy to do all the hard stuff. They are doing the balancing act of wanting to grow up and make their own decisions, but not wanting to stay little and carefree and oblivious to responsibility. I need to be a dolphin voice in their heads, not a shark. I need to help them swim away from the sharks.

I need to make sure they know which side they really belong on.

I need to make sure they know who they are.

I need to make sure that they know that I know who they are and what they are capable of.

Because if there is one thing I know, it is that when I look back on all the things that I have done in my life, the best thing I will have done is raise those incredibly smart, tough, kind, sensitive, loving, ambitious, competitive, sweet, strong, talented boys.

And if there is one thing that I want them to know, it’s that.


2 thoughts on “Know-it-alls

  1. Great post!
    All mothers feel this way at times. It’s so old, repeating everything, feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall. Really.
    The shark metaphor is a really good one, but I throw you another way to look at it — We can’t always be dolphins. We have to be sharks sometimes, to make sure they know how to deal with real sharks. It’s for their own good, the lessons we want to teach them help them survive and flourish.
    Just breathe. It’s seepin in, I promise.


    • Yes, it’s true. Life isn’t always dolphins and rainbows. Our children need to learn to swim with the sharks: internal and external. I just feel like these days we are all teeth around this house…


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