Have you guys seen this floating around the interwebs?
I read this awhile ago, and my heart felt a little squeezy-like. You know what I mean, that feeling you get when something smacks you in the face?
Parenting is, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are times Beckett is the sweetest little munchkin in the world and I’m convinced he can do no wrong. His eyes light up the room, his laughter is adorable, and his snuggles can cure any bad mood.
Then are the days when I’m seriously tempted to curl up in the corner of my bedroom in the fetal position, cover my head with a blanket and not emerge until he’s 18. The kind of day where I hobble downstairs after bedtime and sit on the couch, dazed and confused, feeling battered and bruised and wondering where I went wrong.
Tonight as we were checking out at the grocery store, Beckett grabbed a stack of coupon flyers and gleefully flung them all over the store. The clerk said to me, “He’s going to be a real handful, eh?” I smiled weakly, laughed it off and muttered some comment about him being into everything.
But as I walked out of the door, I felt that mommy guilt creeping in. Why can’t he just sit in the cart quietly and not throw things, or screech or gesture wildly at all the things he wants? Why does he want to smash all the buttons on the debit card swiper thing and why does he try to stand up in the seat even when I have him buckled? (And why does he succeed most days?!)
I started feeling crappy. Like I was a bad mother. And I started mentally reviewing all of the ways we discipline at home, the ways I speak to him, the things I do and don’t let him get away with. Beating myself up for all my imperfections as a mother because my two year old wouldn’t sit quietly in a shopping cart.
Kind of ridiculous, really.
So then I started thinking about all of the things I love about my toddler. Things that on a bad day can seem…well, really really bad but might actually be good things.
Things like: Never sits still – it’s true, the child rarely stops moving. He’s on the go all the time. I’m the mom chasing wildly after a toddler as he runs gleefully towards danger, laughing hysterically like it’s a game. But there’s a good side of this trait. He’s a mover and a shaker. He loves to explore. He sees a big, open space and wants to conquer it all by himself.
And: Has no fear – if it’s in his way, this child will climb it, wrestle it, tackle it or jump it. Logan was a cautious child, and this is all very new to me. He scales furniture like it’s his job. If I turn my attention for 10 seconds to look at produce in a store he will wriggle out of his belt and stand up in the shopping cart. And though it took longer than I thought it would, he is now quite adept at breaking free from his crib. But the good side of this trait is that he isn’t afraid to try something. He isn’t afraid to fail, to fall, to lose. He is brave and confident and I love that. (though it scares the you know what out of me…)
And of course: His defiance. Oh, this boy can be defiant. He will hear you tell him no, smirk right in your face and do it anyway. The other day I gave him a warning to stop doing something – telling him that if he did it again, he’d end up in time out. What did he do? He did it again, and then went to put himself in time out. Sigh. There’s a good side to this too, if I think really hard. He’s an independent thinker, a free spirt. He knows what he wants, he understands his consequences and chooses accordingly.
At 2, these traits can be exhausting. At times, they are downright naughty.
I’m not condoning willful, defiant behavior but…if I reframe the negative, I can envision them becoming strong positives as he grows and matures and learns to reign some of them in.
The graphic at the top is one I think about often. It gives me a little kick in the pants to reframe my thinking, to take a few deep breaths and see that there is so much good in being a mommy. Each phase of childhood is here and gone in the blink of an eye and even though some of the traits my kiddos possess can drive me up a wall, it is my job to learn how to help channel these qualities into bigger and better things as they grow. It is a good reminder that they are amazing little individuals created by our awesome Creator in His likeness and that they are only under my roof for a short time.