It's SO easy as a mom to become consumed with negativity (frustration, anger, helplessness) based on your children's personalities.
When Miss E was born, I was surprised and a bit, well, shall we say, prideful, when I would hear parents talk about how difficult some of their children were. Miss E grew from a pleasant newborn to a compliant and charming toddler, to a creative and obedient preschooler. EASY. She stayed in her toddler bed, potty trained like a pro, ate her veggies, held my hand in the parking lot---you get my drift.
Then Baby E was born. And I quickly "ate crow."
Baby E can be quite the challenge, and it started long before she turned 2. I tell her not to do X, she does it. I say "not one more time" and guess what? Yep. She does it twelve more times. I put her in the corner, she smiles at me.
I was reading a parenting book a few months ago...the title slipping my mind...and the author talked about praying for your child's strengths and challenges. This is something I sadly never thought to do. (Sadly because I feel like I should know to do this....I grew up in a Christian home and have been in church my entire life, so why didn't I know this?)
So I made a list of my kids' strengths and struggles, and I also pondered this:
Why is it that we work so hard to discipline our children in areas that could be strengths of theirs, not faults?
Baby E is our firecracker. She's sneaky. Or, is she simply resourceful? She's disobedient. Or is she creative? She's always testing us. Or is she persistent?
I'm beginning to realize that yes, she may need more (or different) discipline than her older sister, but the things she does that drive us bonkers may actually be personality gifts and propel her into the wonderful life God has planned for her.
If her current personality is any indication...
she's going to set some great goals for herself and achieve them despite obstacles.
she's going to break hearts with her charm.
she's going to have high expectations and demand the very best from those around her.
she's going to learn some hard lessons in life and then use those lessons to do great things.
I'm not saying we should give in to our children's whims and allow them to walk all over us. Not at all! But I am saying that I'm learning to appreciate Baby E's personality and preferences and see them as blessings. Yes, my child can push my buttons, but when did I, as her parent, start allowing that to happen? After all, I'm in control of my emotions and reactions.
Being a parent is HARD. Every day brings about new challenges, obstacles, and demands. But what we do with what we are given means everything.
I'll leave you with this...
Last weekend we were running errands at our local mall. Baby E was being her usual self---walking a bit too far ahead of us and us constantly reminding her to come back. She was touching everything she could despite our sing-song "no touching" chants.
As we were putting on our coats and preparing to go to our car, Baby E and Miss E stopped to talk to the Clinique lady in Macy's. They were asking her questions. They shook her hand and said, "Nice to meet you. My name is...." as they often do when meeting new adults. Baby E reached out and touched the various makeup brushes in the lady's apron, to which, of course, I asked her not to. The lady happily engaged with the girls, even when Miss E coughed into her hand and then shook the lady's hand immediately afterward. I was attempting to prompt the girls to say goodbye, knowing it was getting too close to bedtime and we were risking meltdowns from hunger and fatigue. As we prepared to move on, Baby E looked up at the lady and opened her arms for a hug.
My girl who used to NEVER talk to an adult.
My girl who is in a kicking phase.
My girl who was surrounded by glass bottles and tubes of lipstick....
Instead of ignoring the lady, instead of kicking her, and instead of destroying displays and displays of $30 lipsticks and $50 lotions....
gave the woman a hug.
The lady's eyes filled with tears. Baby E grinned. We said goodbye and walked away.
Maybe Baby E somehow knew what that woman needed. And we busy, preoccupied, rushed adults were too busy to "hear" that woman's need for some physical contact.
Nothing moves me more, gives me more, than after a long, frustrating day of giving and giving and giving, to have one of my children reach up at a random moment and hug me, pat my shoulder, or meet my eyes and say, "I love you, Mommy."
I'm a work in progress, and my focus is to appreciate my children for who they are and who they can become.