Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here's Love In Yer Eyes

Six years ago at our friends wedding, the Priest suggested that the couple work hard at the marriage so that each partner would see God's love in the other's eyes.

In the interest of honesty, I should report that what I heard at the time was,

"Work hard at the marriage and try to see blah blah blah SOMETHING RELIGIOUS blah blah blah."
[Because I am open minded like that.]

Because K is the better, more enlightened half of The House of Joy partnership, he was more interested in the concept of "seeing God's love" in the eyes of his spouse.

Where's God's love in YOUR eyes, Jessica? He just keeps bringing this up, people.. over and over again with the God's love in your eyes thing.

[Kidding, I'm kidding.]

To open my mind to
"God" I always contextualize the word for myself.

When I talk seriously about God I mean God in the way that
Dante Alighieri used the word in Paradiso.

In the last Canto, "God appears as three equally large circles within each other representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit with the essence of each part of God separate yet also one.

Dante's soul, through God's absolute love, experiences a unification with itself and all things

"...but already my desire and my will were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed by the love that turns the sun and all the other stars."

I've always liked Dante's idea of God because, to me, it transcends any one religion expanding and shifting to make room for them all.

The idea of God and the concept of love exist as the physical energy that moves the universe...

Who is not down with that spiritual grooviness?

Using the Dante context, seeing "God's Love" reflected in my partners eyes would mean witnessing the very force that "turns the sun and all the other stars."

Dude. Sign me up.

Thinking about it this way, I can understand K's fascination with the concept.

He brought it up again last night while we were talking about The Mayor.

The Mayor's behavior has been appalling lately. He is constantly testing the boundaries of his own control and engaging us in ugly power struggles.

Last week he kicked, punched, slapped, spit and shouted at us.

In brief, he sucks.

[The Mayor can hit HARD.]

Neither K nor I have been able to keep our cool throughout it all.

A while ago I posted about The Mayor's boundary testing and a lot of folks recommended a book called "Parenting with Love and Logic" so I went running to the bookstore immediately.

Alas! The Mayor thumbs his nose at the love and logic method and further terrorizes us.

Our parental fuses are short.

As we fell asleep talking about this, K asked me what it would be like to attempt to parent with God's love in our eyes.

"I want my spirit of generosity to be expansive -- limitless even -- with The Mayor and Rooster," K said.

I lay there in the dark wondering what K and my children see when they look in my eyes.

[I'm pretty sure they see the person angling for the bigger piece of berry cobbler.]

K asked me why I was so quiet.

"I'm just thinking about what you said," I told him.

I was thinking that one of the things I love most about K is that he inspires me to be the best version of myself possible.

K already has an incredibly kind and generous spirit and I want to be a better person every day simply as a product of being around him.

Inspiring someone to be their best possible self seems a lot like God's love to me.

I believe that K has achieved what Jim and Michele's priest suggested in our marriage and I'll put money on him achieving it with our children as well.


I'm going to have to work on it.

I'm pretty sure that when my children look in my eyes they see the question,

"How soon are you going to bed?"


dawn224 said...

Two thoughts - I struggled with this concept while I was teaching. (Then I got my hubs to knock me up so I could stay home and focus on one rugrat.)

- My mom realized that she pictured Eisenhower when she pictured God. I think she'd like the circles better.

Natsthename said...

I'm pretty sure your kids think more like, "I wish she would hug me right now!"

"Inspiring someone to be their best possible self seems a lot like God's love to me." TA DAH! (and I don't even really believe in God in my old age.)

P.S. You rock.

Mary Alice said...

That was lovely. May I suggest Dr. John Rosemond's books...this method has been fantastic for our family....and also maybe you should try being Episcopalian for maybe 23 minutes next time...add five minutes a week, like training for a marathon or something...that has also worked for us. BTW some Episcopal churches even have nurseries!

hello insomnia said...

My son has given me the reason to be a better person and my husband definitely helps out with that especially when he asks if I should be watching Sopranos in front of our 15-month-old.

FunnyGal KAT said...

In preparing for our marriage, we were told it was our job to make sure our spouse gets into heaven, i.e. make sure they are the best person they can be. It has stuck with me (for the last four months...) and I think the "seeing God's love in your spouse's eyes thing" will too. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

WILLIAM said...

I can't help but think of the line "Tell me more about my eyes." But only it is Bugs Bunny dressed as a chick saying it to Elmer Fudd.

great post.

Circus Kelli said...

A thought-provoking post. I'm afraid my kids have seen a lot of "how soon are you going to bed?" in my eyes this past week...

Tabba said...

love this post.

hang in there with The Mayor. I'm tellin' ya, 3 is WAY worse than 2. 3 is the year that we packed up our parenting skillz and threw them in the trash. 3 is the year that we bounded into our local children's hospital and signed ourselves up for the behavioral clinic. b/c 3 was just.that.awful.

that being said, don't be too hard on yourself, Jess.

and for the record, i just love that K of yours.
you two are perfecto together.

Jenny Ryan said...

I've always liked Dante's idea of God because, to me, it transcends any one religion expanding and shifting to make room for them all.

Oh yeah-sign me up for that, too!

jakelliesmom said...

1. I've told a handful of people that 4 is much easier than 3. However, with a child nearing the edge of 3, I'm hoping I just meant that for boys and not girls.

2. Is boarding school out of the question?

3. I, too, have a better half who is often the good one. Great, though not without its challenges.

4. I think this is why G*d makes babies so sweet, so that you can remember them that way when they turn into little monsters.

5. This too shall pass.

Kyla said...

Terrible twos is a unfortunate misnomer, it makes us all believe that once they turn three it is over. Not so much.

I think my kids see the same thing in my eyes. *lol*

PT-LawMom said...

Dude, Love and Logic? Seriously? Bleech. Oh, and I agree with Mary Alice. :)

This post was very timely for me as I left my rascally four year-old wailing, spitting and screaming in the lobby of his Montessori with nary a goodbye. GRRRR. If you find a magic book or technique, let me know!

Lawyer Mama said...

I like this concept of God too. The agnostic in me can get on board with that.

T inspires me to be a better person and parent as well. I've mentioned as much to him and he said the same about me. Go figure. We both feel that we're more patient and more loving to our children when we slow down and think about what the other parent would do. But still, that struggle continues every day.

Dude, how could it not with a 3 year old?

Anonymous said...

I love you, Jessica. You made me laugh until I cried again today. And by the way, I'm willing to bet that Owen is much like the toddler you were! Precoscious, sassy, cute, exasperating and someone I can't imagine life without. The Mayor is a great kid. He is so smart - which means he can think of a million ways to test those boundaries. Give him and the Rooster a big kiss from Grandma Seattle.

Sayre said...

I now have things to think about today that are better than "thank god school is about to start" or "when am I going to be able to get my ass in a size 18?" Thanks for reminding me that my life is made up of more than my little petty irritants.

Good luck with the Mayor. ZBoy's giving me a run for my money right now and he's EIGHT!

Craze said...

I don't much believe in organized religion and struggle with believing in one God. But your perspective really makes sense. How lucky for you to have such a wonderful husband.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Personally, I pray at the house of Jerry. When things get rough I put on a little "Uncle John's Band" and Chicky and I groove around the kitchen for awhile. It works. Sometimes.

Lady Latte said...

You are wise to chose a good husband!! I am not so wise, he had to convince me...

My husband has a coache's mind and we did stick to the boundries with the young kids (since we had four there was not really an alternative). Today when they ask if they can do something and we have to say no. We'll start "Well no, you cannot do that, because..."

The kids nowdays say, why can't you just say NO, do you have to explain EVERYTHING!

We try to make sure there is room for everyone to grow (including us as a couple). It is a lot of work early on, but it really is worth it!

I think you seem to be handling it well but probably judge yourself a little to harshly. It is an emotional roller-coaster, one day you think you are the worst parent another you think you are the best (that is usually when they sleep, or when you are taking a walk on your own, or are away on vacation without kids ;-))

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, J. this was such a fantastic post. I too was so taken with Dante's view of love/God when I first read him in college.

Sigh--I have no advice for the Mayor situation, only that it should get better. I wish it would with our 7-year old Dr. Jekyll & Hyde child--sometimes I really need some inner strength.

JoeinVegas said...

Cobbler - did somebody say cobbler?

(no advice on the kids stuff, sorry)

Moi said...

It took my 4 year old less than a day to find a workaround to the Love & Logic plan.

I told her she was making a sad choice (as they say to do), and she told me "Yes. Too bad about that." ... and kept doing what she was doing. We were in the car so I could not remove her from the situation. Plus, I was laughing too hard to do anything.

cronznet said...

I conducted part of my sister's wedding wherein she and her hubby and his daughter were joined as a new family. I asked them each to pledge to wake up each day with the promise to love each other more than they had the day before--no matter what. That feeling of committment is as close as I come to a big "G" concept of god. In my own world it helps me to take a breath and start over after a particularly rough patch with the kiddo, e.g., my patience and brilliant parenting skills are not inspired by a toddler's raspberry in response to being directed to quit swinging the cat by its tail.
Thanks for another wonderful post.

painted maypole said...

"Inspiring someone to be their best possible self seems a lot like God's love to me."

yes, yes, yes

And good luck with that. It's not easy, but your post was a great reminder of what we need to aim for in parenting. and in our marriages.

kittenpie said...

Wow. Your husband has some deep thoughts. I see the food network or various home reno shows reflected in Misterpie's eyes... from the glow of the TV. Okay, I joke, but I think he'd look at me like at I had three heads if this came up for discussion. It's sure food for thought, though. Especially with parenting. 'Cuz some days, yeah, it is all about the finish line. When I'm not looking at her like all I want to do is hug and kiss her to death while she wants to escape and go make us a tea party.

carrie said...

When my kids look in my eyes they see "can't you stop making noise for just one minute?".

But that love part, you and K are pros at it -- and a model for us all to follow.



CG said...

I bet Bubbie see the same question in my eyes, at 12 months old he is testing the limits on a daily basis.

I hear it gets worse until age 4, I hope I can make it that far.

It's awesome that your husband is so open minded.

liv said...

Back when D would make me crazy to the point of tears, a friend suggested that after he fell asleep I should lay hands on him gently and just meditate on what a wonderful little person I had birthed into the Universe. I firmly believe that the benefits of breathing sweet energy into your children is super for them, and the watching of them while angelically sleeping is affirming to us.

CamiKaos said...

that really was simply a beautiful post... thanks for making me think today

Irene said...

Lovely post. I've just been reading a book called "The Explosive Child." I don't remember how old the Mayor is or if he's ready for this sort of approach but it DOES address the issues of hitting, kicking, screaming (even swearing) from children toward siblings and parents. Just a thought, a good read. It makes a lot of sense if it applies to your family's situation. Best wishes and God bless!

Jackie said...

Lovely post. Very thought provoking. My son is going through the "terrible twos" (which I'm sure will turn into the "terrorizing threes") so you (and K) really gave me a lot tho think about. Thanks! :-)

Sarcasm Abounds said...

Well, God's love is all well and good, but Love in my mind implies that there can be an absence to God's love.

You know, Old testament stuff:

"And Ye, God's wroth was mighty, and the sinners did much lament..." or some such.

Not sure the Mayor can appreciate that, though...

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for writing this Jess. My child has been gettin' on mah nerves somethin' fierce.

And I'm pretty sure what he sees in my eyes is also, "WHEN are you going to bed?" as well.

I needed this reminder. Needed this perspective.

Thank you.

Worker Mommy said...

So true but sometimes in the midst of the most frustrating situations it is hard to remember this concept.

Must try harder, huh ? Thanks for the reminder!!!

Queeny said...

Guess it's better than having mud in your eyes, which is what I see when I look at my hubs.

slouching mom said...

We all have greater and lesser amounts of patience.

I'm not sure it's about generosity of love as much as patience.

I'd bet you both give your love to your children equally generously.

It just sounds as if K is the more patient of the two of you.

K said...

What a sweet post.

And really - if you think about it, sleep is VERY important for young children, no? So, I'd say seeing bedtime in your eyes can also be a good thing. Maybe?

imhelendt said...

Try Adele Faber's books. I swear when you're reading it, you'll think NO WAY this will work, but give it a try. I don't envy you. I'm past that and on to older childhood issues. Honestly I don't remember how I survived. But I do remember thinking Adele's stuff was horse dookie until I tried it. Mayor's age is a good age to use that stuff. At the very least it will knock him off kilter with something new. I think "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" was her first book.

Oh and I was just catching up with all the entries last night. My kids are 10 and 6 and I STILL travel with a full change of clothes for both of them and me in my carry on. You just can never predict what will happen. Trust me you will still need it even when they're older. ;)

Biddy said...

you SO have to submit this as a blogging naked post! (go to if you don't know what that is)

love the sheer honesty...and wow, you and K are seriously a fairy tale couple. not the kind you read about, but the kind everyone longs to be...honest, loving, and challenging each other to be a better person...

Little Nut Tree said...

The only thing that works with Rowan (similar age I think) is when she gets hysterical and whiny and aggressive for stupid reasons that you can't reason with... we tell her she has to go to the other room and she can choose to come back when she has calmed down. When she has calmed down, she can come for a cuddle and we'll talk it through. We don't attempt to communicate with her when she gets vile because we hate her like that and the attention only fuels the fire.

It seems harsh maybe - but she hates being excluded and by making it her choice she can come back whenever she feel she's ready. We don't fetch her or call her. It's all her choice.

She is SO stubborn and I think this appealed to her need to be in control. We saw better and quicker results within days and now very often when we say go next door to calm down, come back when you're better she will wipe her face and tell us she's all better already.

It's only a suggestion. Totally may not work but it's doing OK here.

Either way? I feel your pain!! (as they say) They suck at this age about 60% of the time!! :o) lol

Alpha DogMa said...

That was a good post. Well, the beginning part, and the end part - they were great. I pretty much tuned out the God and Dante part - cos I'm shallow and small minded. If you'd compared God to something Star Wars related - I'd have been there, babe. But that last line: killer.

QT said...

God Jess, I am so sorry. I remember this phase with my nephew and it was bad. I was lucky that I could get in my car and drive home.

I will send love & patience your way...

Lisa Milton said...

I imagine you and your hubby are a good pair - a generous, loving duo. Even the saintly among us can be brought to their knees (in a wholesome, not-so-sexy way) by sucky kids. It happens.

(I loved that description, so succinct.)

You'll find something that works with the Mayor. It'll happen. And when you do, he'll change it up and make you crazy again. (Just ask my kids...)

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Nice post.

Lotta said...

Boys sure do test the limits. I haven't been able to lie down unguarded since Mack was 2. I'm always prepared for his flying leaps. We keep all appendages tucked in close to our sides at all times.

Be careful with the God stuff. I told Mack that God wants us all to be kind to each other. Then when I yelled at him he said, "What do you think God would say about that!" Ugh!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Have you tried "The Strong Willed Child" by Dobson? The first couple of chapters alone had me in I finally felt that I was NOT a horrible parent and I was not the only one whose child did HORRIFIC things!

Just a thought!

As for the horrid behavior....been there....still in the trenches!

I hope it gets better soon...if it does...PLEASE SHARE YOUR TACTICS!

FENICLE said...

I'm so glad we aren't the only ones struggling with this issue. My husband & I have talked about this a lot....too much.

I think you just have to try and model the best behavior you can and let them know you expect the same in return. Remaining calm when you're dodging spit & fists gets hard...I lose it a lot! But hey, that's life uh?

PunditMom said...

Wow, what a wonderful post. The thoughts are beautiful and, from a day-to-day, practical standpoint, I can really relate. Finding a way to stay focused on that kind of energy and love while at the same time navigating parenthood to children when they are so challenging -- I am inspired by you, J.

Thank you. I will really try to use this tomorrow when PunditGirl tests me -- as she does every day.

Bon said...

you sound tired, friend...but thoughtful. and like there's a lot of love in the house of joy, even with the miserableness.

Dante's version of God suits me too, and is one of the few i can discuss without ironic distance. and i like the idea of looking at Dave & O through that lens...thanks.

NotSoSage said...

Joe is by far the better, more patient parent, too. And while I admire it and it pushes me to be better myself, it sometimes also makes me feel inadequate. As long as I focus on emulating him, though, I imagine it can only get better from here.

This was a beautiful post. You two are wonderful.

Omaha Mama said...

Beautiful. Trying to be a better person when you're already good. That sounds like a great hubby.

The behavior thing, blech. Our little angel, who really is a good girl, just loses all control at times. And we, in turn, lose all control too. If you figure out that love and patiences blah, blah, blah. Do share.

notfearingchange said...

My friend says "God bless you" when I sneeze. I told him thank you but drop the God.

Shannon said...

I know you haven't heard from me in awhile. I've been traveling. But I still popped in and read every time I had internet connection for a minute or so. Anyway, I'm going to read the comments after this - to see if there are any bits of wisdom I can pull. I just have to tell you that we've been going through some very similar things with our daughter - a very bright and incredibly stubborn child of 3 1/2. I've mostly felt that I'm not handling things very well and I think my husband feels about the same. I've read about every parenting book known and am now in therapy at least in part because I became convinced that it was my parenting in some way I couldn't see. Anway, I relate on so many levels with this post. I sometimes think we are living parallel lives. I have to say two things: I was so totally comforted when I read this and a couple other similar posts just to know it wasn't just me and, I think, I THINK, my daughter may just be coming out the other side. I pray really.

slackermommy said...

My kid's preschool teacher references to seeing God in our children's eyes. The eyes of God is what she calls them. I never thought about looking for it in my husbands eyes. Gives me something to think about.

Serina Hope said...

When you figure out how to handle the Mayor, let me know the secret. It sounds like he is a lot like my lovely little terror.
And it sounds to me like your marriage is exactly what the priest was talking about.

flutter said...

I can see your love all the way over here.

When ARE they going to bed?

SUEB0B said...

Aw. K is sweet. But I still vote for the duct tape.

nonlineargirl said...

Not being big into God-contemplation generally, I have always liked what the rabbi said at my/my husband's wedding: God is the naming of awe.

mrs incredible said...

Peter Gabriel anyone? "In YOUR Eyes, (the light, the heat) In your eyes, (I am complete) In your eyes, (I hear the voices) your eyes, (of a thousand churches), your eyes (the revelation) your eyes, I wanna touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes...

Your post makes me wanna Say Anything to John Cusack.

Queen Karana said...

My eyes are so glazed over that I'm not sure my kids can see ANYTHING in them.

I haven't read all the comments so maybe somebody suggested this to you... but if you're looking or another method of discipline, a book that was recommended to me is 1-2-3 Magic

I've seen it work with several parents, but I have never tried it, nor have I read the book. So... um, try it at your own risk. And maybe I should try it too.

Here's a link to it on Amazon... if the link doesn't get completely slaughtered as I try to post it:

Beck said...

That's pretty powerful stuff.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I've been struggling with this lately, too, as The Poo goes thru a decidedly irritating developmental phase.

I know that she sees my impatience and it makes me feel like dirt.

Thank you for reminding me of my own shortfalls, and how I can strive to be a better mother - and person.

megachick said...

great post. i appreciate your honesty about your self. i think my daughter sees some not so nice things in my eyes way too often, but last night i managed to keep my cool as she stolidly refused to fold her laundry, even though she knew she would get no dinner until it was done. she finally ate 2.5 hours later ...after working through the problem/solution herself.

BillyWarhol said...

gosh yer one Smart Cookie - very interesting Read* quite different than anything i've read b4 - kinda like Tom Robbins of Even Cowgirls get the Blues + Stillife with Woodpecker fame*


i'm reading an excellent book right now - god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens*

i'd be interested in hearing yer take on it*


Staci Schoff said...


I can't think of a greater blessing than to be loved by someone who inspires you to be the best you can be.

Dante's is sort of how I imagine God too, except I envision God as maybe more of a "glue" or a common thread or something that unites everything. Like I consider everything and every face I see to be "the face of God."

Some days I do better than others at ACTING like I see that! ;)

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yes, double wow.

We have our own live Dante who makes me want to be my best possible self every day. Although when he spits at me, I sort of lose my grip on that thought.

The only book that has helped me a lick in this whole 'discipline' baloney is "How to talk so kids will listen. . .". I constantly need to go back and reread it (or look at the cartoons) b/c I'm a slow learner, but it really, really has helped me through the twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes.