I've been debating on whether or not I should write this blog entry for quite some time and here's why...
This season that we're in has brought out the best and worst of me in many ways and for many reasons. One reason being the other-worldly set of hormones that comes with being pregnant, another reason is the unconditional emotional support I've been trying to give my husband as he has wrestled out what his career destiny should be, and finally some of my best and worst moments have been brought to the surface simply because our sweet Kayna Joy is now three.
The emotional highs and lows of parenting a three year old ebb and flow at a much faster and dramatic rate than the ocean's tide. You could probably compare it more to a wave-pool from your favorite theme park. You know, you're having fun floating one minute and the next minute you are close to drowning in a 10 foot wave only to come out on the other side with a nose full of stinging chlorine. I'm not sure why this has been our toughest year yet, maybe because she's discovering her independence more and more each day, or maybe its because the older they get, the less control you have over everything. Regardless, I have no idea who coined the phrase 'terrible 2's' (because I loved the 2's with Kayna!!). It should be, 'enjoy the 2's because your child will turn into something else when he or she hits 3!' As difficult as the lows have been (tantrums over mama not doing something in a specific routine, to not wearing the "right" socks etc) the highs have been of equal magnitude in the opposite direction. My heart swells when I feel Kayna's little hands cup my face, look into my eyes and say, "I love you" -for no reason at all!
A personal story that happened just last week follows...We were getting ready for preschool when I began to brush Kayna's hair. She had a touchy morning already and was at the brink of a meltdown. The perfect storm was about to unfold. As I was edgy already and we were close to being late, I wasn't interested in 'practicing patience' at this particular point. With every stroke of the brush and attempt to put her hair into a ponytail (our normal routine) she had a meltdown which eventually caused me to loose my cool and raise my voice shouting, "stop it!". My tone was more harsh than I intended it to be and it honestly surprised me as well. The tears began to flow from my three year old eyes and I knew I needed to take a 'mommy time out' to cool down. I put Kayna in her room and walked into my room to have some space to breathe. We had to go in a hurry so we eventually got into the car -tears continuing to stream down Kayna's cheeks. In an instant I prayed (not that I wanted to, because I wanted to 'win' and be in control) 'Help me God!' and a millisecond later my foot landed on the brake and I turned around to look at Kayna. I don't know how to explain the refreshing sense of humility and grace that came over me in that moment, but it wasn't something I conjured up (or even, like I said, I didn't want to conjure up). I put my hand gently on Kayna's knee and looked straight into her eyes and told her that I was sorry for yelling at her. I told her that I was angry because she wasn't obeying me and she was being fussy but it was wrong of me to yell. I told her that I loved her. She accepted my apology with a response of, "I forgive you mama". The rest of the way to school her tears dried up and we prayed and sang Christmas songs together. It was a total transformation in both of our hearts.
Since that day (and, yes, there were countless battles before this one!) I have been reminded to pray for the mind of Christ each morning and to ask God to fill me with self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Its truly amazing to see the difference in my own responses to my three year old's outbursts, and to see how quickly a fire is put out from simply not losing my temper in the moment. I feel more peaceful, handle the stress better and Kayna has even had less and less outbursts.
Even if you don't have a three year old, I'd recommend this strategy every morning as, "each day has its own troubles (or stresses!)" Matthew 6:25-34.
Its been a journey that no one could have prepared us for and I'm now well aware that each stage will have its own set of ebbing and flowing. I'm thankful for grace and forgiveness in my own life and I am trying my best to exercise them both and display them towards my amazing three year old.
I saw the following video today and thought it was sobering to my stage in life. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to mother Kayna and wouldn't trade it for anything. Its been the most difficult yet the best stage at the same time. Besides, what fun would a wave pool be without a little jostling around and unpredictability!