Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Patience, Mama

Someone once told me you should never pray for patience, or God will give you something to practice that patience on.

It isn't that I necessarily believe it, but I have to laugh at that statement because patience is not my strong suit. Waiting in traffic? Nope. Expecting an Amazon package? Two days is forever. My two-year old standing up in his high chair for the 475,000th time this week. FORGET ABOUT IT.

This has really been a test for me lately (the toddler part, not the amazon part...no more than usual anyway). Henry is two, and with that comes meltdowns, fits, tears, frustrations, defiance, and at least a hundred other difficult situations. Today he legit walked up to me and kicked me in the ankle. Twice. I have no idea why. He wasn't mad or upset. He was grinning and just kicked me in the ankle bone. Luckily this was not at 5:00 p.m. on an already difficult day, and I just had to remind myself that he is learning. It is my job to teach him what is right and what is wrong that you don't kick people.

I have recently had to remind myself of my responsibility to him so very many times. You see, I have a very strong-willed child. You know where he gets that? Yep. You guessed it. Right here. It is often a power struggle at our house as two stubborn people with communication difficulties battle it out on a daily basis. There were a couple of weeks where I really struggled. I mean I reeeeeally struggled. There was one week in particular where I thought I might lose my mind. There was one evening that I sat in the kitchen floor and cried while I let my husband battle the high chair and bath time fit. It was a rough week for me.

You know who else it was rough on? The toddler melting down in the high chair.

Some days are hard, but I have realized that those days aren't just hard for me. They are hard for him too. He is learning so much right now. His little brain is on overload, and he has so many wants and needs that he can't always communicate just yet. He doesn't always understand the things I am telling him. He doesn't get why sometimes he can have a cookie and other times I say 'no'. He doesn't always understand the fine line between tickling and 'wrestling' with daddy and getting a little too rough with mama. Sometimes I feel like I might finally be finding the right way to react. Other times he throws me a curve ball, and what worked yesterday comes right back to laugh in your face today...sometimes quite literally. But most days my rough-and-tumble, wild-and-crazy, super tough little boy just needs mama to chill out and talk to him. He needs me to be stern but keep my cool. He needs me to correct him in a calm but stern voice. He needs me to direct him but with love. And you know what I have learned from reacting both the harsh way and the calm way? In the end, the calm way is a lot easier on me as well.

Don't get me wrong. The quickest and easiest way to react most times is out of frustration. On those long days where I am about to lose it, and he just won't stop fussing/getting into things/head butting my leg while I cook dinner, staying calm is not my gut reaction. However, when I am calm for him, it is much easier to control myself and say less things I regret in tones that I can live with later. He is soaking in everything around him, and I don't want that to be a grumpy mama who snaps at every little thing.

I most definitely don't want to sound all holier-than-thou. I have had some super hard days lately. Actually last week was super tough after a really great stretch. I have snapped at him more times than I would like to admit, and I know it will happen again. At the end of a long day when he hits me in the nose with his head or fights me when I try to brush his teeth, I don't promise to stay cool and calm. I do promise that I will try to always remember the words I am typing now. You see, this post is more for myself than anyone else. I am not telling you how to react. You know your child, your relationship with your child, what works and doesn't work, and everything in between. But if you have been struggling lately, let this be an encouragement to you. Sure, I just asked you to remember that things are hard for them too as they navigate a lot of new feelings and emotions in a world where they sometimes struggle to communicate, but remember this also...YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is okay to acknowledge it is hard, and it is okay to cry about it. It is okay to step away for an afternoon or even a weekend if that is what it takes.

I think it is an impossible balance, and we are all going to mess up at some point...or 50...million. You are human, mama. You are learning how to teach and guide this ever-changing and growing personality, and you will get it wrong sometimes. We all will. But a sweet friend once told me that babies are the best forgivers. Luckily, toddlers are pretty great at it too.


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