I feel compelled and committed, to following instances of discipline with an increased measure of love.
To give lots of hugs and encouragement after time-outs. To apologize for raising my voice. To apologize for being too harsh. To apologize for my lack of preparedness, setting her up for bad behavior.
I have been apologizing a lot lately.
Where mothering a baby came so naturally and easily to me, mothering a toddler leaves me feeling often times unprepared and overwhelmed.
This child's baby self filled me with satisfaction. She only needed closeness, engaging responsiveness, and nurturing. I knew inherently how to give her those things. Her content being, and the ease with which our days ebbed and flowed, -- these were reinforcement that my instincts were right, that I was all she needed, that I was good at this job. Our union was harmonious. It was even easy.
She is three now.
She has started using the word "hate", and seems to find many circumstances where it should apply. She hates that I am distracted, or nursing the baby, or won't let her ride in her carseat without the buckles done. I hate how quick I snap, "We don't pee on the floor! We don't wipe our bottom with a blanket!" instead of calmly showing her the right way again. I hate that I screamed at her when she covered the baby's face with a pillow, so angrily that she pleaded and sobbed that I please not be mad at her. Because I wasn't really angry with her...she was just being a three-year old. I was angry that I felt so tired and out of control, that I wasn't watching closely enough and that something bad could have happened because of it. I hate that I too often take the easy way, and too often tell her "don't!" instead of showing her what to do.
Oh these toddler days--
They leave me feeling shaken. And tired. And questioning.
How do I guide her behavior without squelching her beautifully creative spirit?
How do I know when I am expecting too much, or not enough?
How do I instill confidence, and show her that she can be all that she wants in life, when I am so often unsure of myself? To keep her temper when I so often lose mine?
As she grows and develops her own identity and ideas, will I be able to help her navigate the turmoil? Will I disappoint her? Will I be enough?
My hope, above all else, is that she always feel loved.
And that I am able to guide her in discovering how exceptional she is,
despite being myself-- in most ways, quite average.
That, I am hopeful,
is the miracle of motherhood.