When Adeline was born, many people told me how difficult it is to be a mother– you’ll never get any sleep, you’ll never pee alone, you’ll never get time alone with your husband again, you’re basically grounded for the next 18 years. It was what every new mother wanted to hear.
In reality, I had given birth to a baby girl who slept through the night from night two, never had any dietary issues, and pretty much just went right along with everything. She adapted to our lifestyle without much fuss. Now, because she was a baby, there were nights she wouldn’t sleep, there was the infamous “I’m almost two and if I have to be in this car seat I’m going to make you regret it the ENTIRE car ride!” screaming phase, but for the most part, the child was the easiest kid to ever walk the earth.
As a two-year-old, we didn’t have many public outbursts, she was a very happy child, sassy-of course-, but primarily easy-going. Obviously, it was all because of my incredible parenting skills and the fact that I excel at everything I do, so my kid must, also, right? What an awesome parent I was.
And then she turned three.
This perfect, my-kid-NEVER-acts-like-that-in-public parent was hit in the face with the Mack Truck of the strong-willed child. However strong my will was, believe me, hers was stronger. The fits began- no, no. Not just the “I want a cookie and you said NO.” fits. More like the “APOCALYPSE HAS STARTED AND IT WILL NOT STOP UNTIL I GET A DANG COOKIE AND I KNOW YOU’LL DO ANYTHING TO SHUT ME UP! LOOK, KROGER SHOPPERS! I HAVE A SNOTTY NOSE AND MY MOM WONT GIVE ME A COOKIE AND SHE FEELS LIKE A FAILURE AND IM JUST SCREEEEEEEAAAAAAAAMMMMMMIIINNNNGGG!” fit. Parenting Self-righteousness? Gone.
There were fits about EVERYTHING. What underwear to put on. How to wear said underwear. Why we don’t dive head first off furniture. Why we don’t break things. The hard part was that this child, however strong-willed and difficult it was to parent during that year, was the same child that immediate preceding and following the fit was (AND STILL IS) good-natured, good-hearted, sweet, smart, ridiculously hilarious, and the life of any party. My smart, strong-willed child WANTED to be obedient. She WANTED to listen. But she also wanted her own way and couldn’t seem to control her need to do what she wanted. Because she was three.
We tried every pre bring trick in the book, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, spanking (yes, we spank. Sorry, not sorry!), reward charts, ignoring (that was laughable), you name it, we tried it. And failed. Miserably.
For over a year, we couldn’t figure out what we could do to possibly help this child see she NEEDED to be obedient for safety purposes. So, I prayed.
Lord, did I pray.
I prayed she would be obedient to me so I could teach her to be obedient to God. I prayed for wisdom in how to deal with her strong will and her fragile heart. I prayed for myself, that I would BE the obedient daughter to God that I wanted her to learn to be. And I made sure she saw and heard me praying. I prayed over every little scrape and booboo. I prayed over our attitudes, I prayed over our dinners and our days. It was all I knew to do. It was my last-ditch effort.
This incredibly good-hearted, delightful child is now four-and-a-half. We haven’t had a tantrum in about three months now.
I wasn’t sure if she had been paying attention, though. UNTIL LAST WEEK.
I had a toothache. A bad one. I was lying in bed and My husband was putting the girls in their bed, which he never does without me. (He’s fully capable and the best dad EVER, it’s just something we choose to ALWAYS do together.) As I was lying in bed, Adeline came and crawled up into my bed, laid her tiny, perfect little hands on me, and said this:
“Mommy, the only way you’ll feel better is if we pray. Thank you, God, for this day. Thank you for blessing us and keeping us safe and thank you that Mommy was healed by the stripes of Jesus. In Jesus name. Amen.”
It was then that I knew she heard me. She saw me. And she was getting it.
Be still, my heart. This child, this baby who made me a mommy, this ex-pro tantrum thrower, is going to do incredible things for her Father in this lifetime. And, mama, SO WILL YOURS.
JUST KEEP ON TRUCKING. They’re getting it.
Love to my loves,