What Cranky Frankie Taught Me About God

by | Apr 2, 2013 | Babies, Parenting | 15 comments

If you read my blog with any regularity you probably know that my 17 month old baby is a real stinker.  He screams.  He throws stuff.  He hits me.  He won’t eat.  He insists on being picked up, mostly.  He insists on being put down, occasionally.  He is very particular.  He is very difficult.

And against all reason, I love him utterly.

I don’t have a great memory for my other kids’ babyhoods (because God is good and made it that way) but I KNOW that at least four out of the other five were more pleasant than Frankie.

I do remember Anita a bit.  She had her particularity, but really just one.  She loved the sling.  ALL THE TIME loved the sling.  I’m not a hundred percent convinced that she’s not actually a marsupial.  But if I would meet that need, she was GOOD.  She loved to nurse.  Her little face would light up when she saw me in the morning.  She would smile at me and laugh and snuggle.  She was easy to love.

But Frankie’s not like that.  He does laugh and play, and I’ll get a toothless grin every now and again.  But he’s often sad or mad when I go to get him in the morning.  I get precious few morning smiles from him.  If I put him down to run back into the bedrooms to grab something, he has been known to shriek and chase doggedly after me like something out of a horror movie, throwing himself repeatedly against the door that separates us.  

So, apparently he likes me.  But you wouldn’t really know it to look at him when I AM holding him.  He squawks, he wiggles, he fusses, he hits.  He does hug me often, but it’s pretty violent and involves enthusiastic head butting so it’s really not my favorite.  

He was my only baby to wean himself.  He was over a year old, so I guess it would’ve been okay with me, except for the WAY he did it.  One day, out of the blue, he just started gagging at me when I would offer to nurse him.  Not choking on milk, but loudly gagging at the sight of the offering.  It was pretty offensive.  

What Frankie wants to eat is raisins, almost exclusively.  And if you think I DIDN’T give in and let him eat 1,000 raisins one day, then you would be wrong.  And if you think you can feed a baby 1,000 raisins and then NOT wake up to <this part of the post has been removed at the request of my editor, who is also my husband>, well you’d be wrong about that too.

So, unlike other babies I know (<cough> Skylar, Julia, Beatrice) it’s really not obvious why even a mother would love Frankie.  But I do.  It’s not that I care for him because as his mother I am obligated to do so.  I truly love him, even though he does very little to deserve it and often seems to be actively working against it.  

And that’s where the God part comes in.  That’s how He loves me.  And that’s how I treat Him.  I am drawn to Him desperately, then fight Him as He holds me.  I refuse the good gifts and graces He offers me, choosing lesser things for myself instead.  And then I get to deal with the consequences of my choices.  I love Him, I do, although you wouldn’t always know it to look at me.  But He loves me perfectly, even though I don’t deserve it.  And because I love Cranky Frankie, I can understand and trust God’s love for me.

Suddenly this makes perfect sense:

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Frankie doesn’t worry about whether he’s worthy of my love.  He is very confident that he is.  I think if he could talk, he’d be the first one to admit that he’s not easily satisfied.  But he has that childlike trust in my love for him.  And he has taught me to have that same childlike trust in God’s love for me.


  1. Chris

    He is so darn adorable. Love those beautiful eyes.
    My older son has blonde hair, blue eyes as well! These shots remind me of him as a baby/toddler…

    Thanks for sharing your heart…
    Have a lovely day!

  2. Mandi

    So lovely! As I was reading this though, I couldn't help but be saddened by the fact that there are other difficult children out there like your son whose mothers don't feel the way you do. You are able to reflect the love of God through your love of your son, but there are other women out there that wanted perfect children or didn't want children at all and are angry at their difficult little ones.

  3. Kara Warme

    Beautiful post. Cranky Frankie – Aunt Kara loves you too! And I think God gave me Skylar Smiler because He knew all those Tierneys want more cousins!

  4. Nanacamille

    Frankie is cranky but he is a treasure beyond imagination as he is healthy and active and perfect in the sight of God and man. He and I share one personality trait which is a love for ice cream. He loved me and hugged me when I kept feeding him ice cream after Easter dinner so I have found a way to get in his good graces. Who knows he might grow up to become Pope Francis II and wecan all laugh about his early behavior.

  5. Abby S.

    Mothering young children, even pleasant ones, is a pretty thankless task. It's really humbling to remember that we're all cranky babies. Thanks for the lovely reminder! (And I bet Frankie is just cramming a lifetime of crankiness into 18 months and then he'll be done forever!)

  6. Grandma Tierney

    What a beautiful analogy, Kendra. I wonder if God sees us all as cranky children banging our rattles on our high chair trays. It certainly gives me pause to consider my own behavior.

    Grandma Tierney

  7. Anonymous

    I'm sure he'll be thrilled about this posting when he's older and will really show his love for you then.

  8. Katrina Bascom

    This is so wonderful! I giggled — I especially liked the censorship. 🙂

    And then you turned something slightly frustrating and lighthearted into something so meaningful. Thank you for the reminder. I feel the same way, a lot of the time.

  9. Sarah Notes

    Love the censorship ;-p
    This is great. Motherhood has given me a whole new perspective on the Father's love for me. Amazing!
    Thanks for linking up 🙂

  10. Jenny

    Great post and should probably be read by most mothers…all mothers. It reminds us why we do what we do and Who we do it for.

  11. Izabela Trzebuniak

    Oh I had a fussy baby/toddler/child so this post really hit home. I did want to suggest to you that you check your son for allergies. My daughter was very difficult to please, she was seldom content, often wiggling in my arms, head butting, rubbing her face on me, etc. We discovered she had food allergies/sensitivities (milk, eggs, soy and cats, which we had two of at the time). She also had reflux and chronic constipation, probbaly triggered by her allergens. When we addressed these issues she was a completely different child. She is still not the calm, easy going child (even now at 11) but eliminating the allergens helped tremendously in relieving her symptoms. I am still amazed at how much a child's behavior (agitation, anxiety, unsettled, unsatisfied) can be altered and affected by allergies. To this day, even though she can now have some dairy products, if she has a particularly dairy-heavy day she suffers. Best of luck to you.


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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