Friday, May 6, 2011

A Miracle

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.


  1. This is something I am really struggling with. So many days I find myself praying to just remember how much I loved that little baby who grew up to be the six-year-old that is driving me bonkers. And I find myself sobbing and thinking despairingly about my unborn baby, "Well, at least I haven't messed that one up yet."

    I feel like I was so unprepared for that adorable little newborn to grow into a person who has agency, and makes choices that I don't like, but can't directly control. I know that this is going to be the rest of my life, and I hope I get a handle on how to do it all sometime in the next decade or two.

    Whew...this is kind of a downer comment, isn't it? But I really appreciated the honesty in your post. Thank you.

  2. Both your entry and the above comment are so reassuring. I am 8 months pregnant with a little one entering his terrible twos and I feel similarly in many ways. It is reassuring to know that it is a normal struggle and that I am not the only Mom who has to apologize for snapping, worry that I am passing on my bad habits and pray everyday for patience.

  3. I wrote a long comment, and then erased it, and then wrote another one, and erased that too! ;) All I can say is that I know exactly how you feel. Been there, done that. Felt terrible, moved on. I I lose my cool...often, but I still think my kids are turning out fantastic!! They know I love them, support them, will always hug them, and that I celebrate their individuality. I apologize immediately if I am grumpy or frustrated and I think they understand. And then we have a good laugh about it. It seems to me that I yelled more with 2 than 4, and so I dare say it gets easier with time and experience. Hang in there!

    I'm positive that you are a fantastic mother (despite your feelings of inadequacy), and I know this because of the simple fact that you care so passionately about being a mother!

  4. I think that 3 was harder than the terrible twos.

    I don't want to sound preachy or anything, but the book "1,2,3 Magic" saved my life with my toddlers.

    And I feel the same way with my 5 year old who is the spitting image of myself....some days she is enough to drive me to the looney bin, mostly because she is so ME!

  5. I'm just so happy to learn that you're having a hard time like the rest of us! You were so impressive as a new mother -- your innate ability to nurture, your obvious understanding of how beautiful the whole thing was, the lovely ways in which you did everything -- I sometimes wondered why I was always floundering and couldn't be more like you.

    Toddlers are hard. And delightful. And hard. I'm on my last one now, and I'm not any better at parenting him than I was my first one! And I have even less patience since I'm busy trying to figure out how to be a parent to teenagers at the same time. This whole process of motherhood, I'm convinced, is meant to refine us, to stretch us to our very limit. And I've noticed that even fabulous mothers often feel like they're blowing it. The good news is, most of the time, they're not. And you're not. She's beautiful and you're amazing. If it helps, I think 4 year-olds are much easier than 3 year-olds!

  6. Oh girl, I'm right there with you. I feel so much guilt after snapping at my three year old, and I also end up doing a lot of apologizing or showing her extra love after she gets upset because of my snappiness. Such a fine balance between providing discipline, teaching her to behave in a way that's not squishing her little brother, and making sure she knows you still love her.

    You are not alone, and neither am I! It was nice to read your words. Happy Mother's Day!

  7. you are a great mom and the fact that you are trying to be better shows that! no one is perfect, all any of us can do is work to be better. it's hard when something that's been working stops working and you find yourself reacting instead of being proactive (speaking for myself) i know it must feel overwhelming but you're not in it alone heavenly father will help you. i love you!

  8. Oh, man. Glad I'm not the only one. An especially good post to read near Mother's Day, which it's so easy to feel guilty during (I'm not that perfect mother everyone is describing!). The thing that frightens me is the parrot-like nature of this age. I feel like every bad thing I do gets repeated and magnified. But posts like this make me feel better and also strengthen my resolve.

    (Also, it's not fair that you're so creative AND such a good writer.)

  9. You are a great mommy honey and average is not a word anyone would use to describe you.Some days are just hard.OX, Mom

  10. I can so relate!!! I feel like I am always walking a thin line between holding them to behavior expectations and being a disciplinarian in the times when I know that is my job, and then hoping that I am not squelching her spirit, making her feel picked on etc... It is so hard.... Hang in there. We are all facing these challenges! My husband keeps telling me, "Every day is a new day. Just get up and do your best today!"

  11. Oh girl, I am soooo with you. You pretty much just said it all. Your post - and all these wonderfully affirming comments - are just what I needed today to know that it's not just me!!

  12. 3 is soooo hard! And so is 5 I think. But then, 7 comes and life is good for a while! Hang in there. You are doing just the right things I think, as long as they know they are loved at the end of the day you are doing your job!

    Can I just say one more time what beautiful babies you and Travis make! Holy cow!!

  13. So glad to hear I'm not alone! Mine will be 3 on Friday, and since her little brother arrived 5 months ago, she has been nothing short of a challenge. I really hope its the age/development thing and not the little brother thing ;-)

  14. You have age 4 to look forward to. One of my very favorite so far, when they still simply adore you, are able to do so many more things, really becoming a little pal during the day. And with a face like that, it can't be too hard to stay mad, right? We all just take an hour at a time, sometimes 3 minutes at a time. But it's worth it, and I've only gotten to age 9 with mine! (I might change my tune when I have 5 teenage daughters...)

  15. I don't know you but as I read this post, tears streamed down my face because I want so badly to be the best mom EVERY day, but some days just don't go like that and sound a lot like what you described. Sometimes I just don't know how it can be so hard for me when I feel like my desire to be a great mom should overpower those impatient and frustrated moments that I have. Why? Anyways, my hope is a lot like yours and I wish you the best. Your children are darling and you seem like a darling wife and mom. Thankyou for your sweet posts that uplift me and help me to want to be better.

  16. I really love your blog and have just been reading backwards a bit. My 22 month old is starting to drive me bonkers and I was wondering if you came up with any answers for those questions you were asking!… :)


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