A two-year-old trying to find her independence is hard.
Thursday afternoon I laid down with Chickadee for her afternoon nap. She pushed my cheek with her hand and tried to shove me off the side of the bed with her foot. And the entire time I closed my eyes with a forced but peaceful smile across my mouth, telling her Your rudeness does not hurt my feelings, because I knew that eventually she would stop, roll flush against my chest and fall asleep. Because that is our routine.
This was the afternoon following the morning she got so mad at me that she threw her brother's crayons on the floor before laying on the living room floor, fake-crying for a full five minutes. She was mad just to be mad, having long forgotten her original complaint, but knowing that at some point she hadn't gotten her way. And how can I not identify with that? I want my life to be under my control. She is two. Of course she has a tough time with authority, even if that authority is loving and looking out for her best interest.
This the day after she'd spent a good part of her post-nap afternoon running from me and yelling, "NO!" or "SHTOP!"
You guys, a two-year-old trying to find her independence is hard.
I try not to take it personally. I tell myself that this is just her age, that she feels more comfortable with me than any other person in the whole world, and that she is learning what is acceptable and what is not. I tell myself that she would act this way with any other person who loved her and spent nearly every single minute of her waking hours with her.
But I absolutely take it personally when she screams my name and runs to give me a hug. And I absolutely take it personally when she's sad and wants to sit on my lap for snuggles, or when she seeks out my kisses for an ouchie.
Thursday morning I did not take her tantrum personally. Thursday afternoon I did not take it personally when she pushed me away. Wednesday I DID take it personally when she ran from me, and I stewed in my frustration as I tried to lay her down for another nap, unhappy that she was being mean to me AGAIN and this time I was having to ignore G and Little Missy who were now home from school in order to calm this little body of hormones and growing autonomy. And I was still in a mood when my husband came home from work.
I feel that my job as a stay-at-home mom is to make a safe place for my family, where they can block out school and work and feel peace. Wednesday afternoon my frustration with Chickadee filled my body, expanded from me and filled our house. That day I did not excel at my job.
And so, with complete humility and love, I want to share with you why Thursday went so much better, despite Chickadee still being a toot: it was because of prayer.
My prayer was simply this: that He help me to accomplish what He wanted me to accomplish that day.
Because so much of my frustration with Chickadee is that I have other things to do while she is throwing a tantrum: I have dishes to wash, laundry to change out, dinner to fix, children who need to be with their mom. And so while she's running from me or lying on the floor, I'm thinking, "I do not have time for this."
But when I'm on the Lord's schedule He gives me the peace let it go. And I'm better able to hear the words, the attitude He wants me to have with her, even in the midst of her tantrums.
Thursday morning, after she realized her fake-crying was not getting a response from me, she climbed into my lap and we snuggled for an hour while watching TV. Then she happily took a bath and got ready to see G and Little Missy for lunch at school.
The dishes stayed in the sink, the clean socks were still in the washer, the beds didn't get made until after naps. But allowing God to work through me gave me peace in a not-perfectly clean home. Because what needed to get accomplished would get accomplished, and what was most important that morning was showing my daughter that I have time for her, that I love to sit and be quiet with her.
After Chickadee fell asleep later that afternoon I got to pick up the house and then sit in the quiet and eat a treat. And then when the big kids got home from school I was ready for them, and I believe they came home to a house of peace and love. For that I give the credit to no one but God.
Erin Fox is a weekly columnist for the Augusta Gazette and a busy mother and wife. Her popular blog - erin's little corner can also be found on our webpage,augustagazette.com.