Wednesday, November 23, 2011

underqualified

The first year of a kid's life is pretty amazing.  I remember running errands with a car seat-bound infant and thinking, this parenting thing is not hard at all.   Sure, there's tons of uncertainty about when to take baby in to the doctor, why she won't take quality naps, and how to soothe her teething gums but for the most part, your bundle of joy thinks you are amazing, likes to snuggle, and is willing to follow your lead.

Now that Lakin's almost 16 months (gulp, where has time gone) I'm in a whole new phase of uncertainty and this one is a real challenge.  I hinted that things at our house have gotten a bit more difficult as our intelligent and fiercely independent toddler finds her voice and her own opinions.  Lately everything has become a battle.

For example, breakfast the other day was berries and bananas- a favorite for BG and she refused them.  No polite, "no thank you, mom, I'd rather have something else"- it was a snarly, "no!" and a shove to the floor.  I kept my composure and placed the food back onto her high chair and did my best to ignore her chorus of whiny refusal.  I unloaded the dishwasher, turned up the Pandora play list and acted like the world was just peachy.  You know what?  After five minutes of ugly she finally devoured her breakfast and then asked for more.

When we got out to run a few errands things continued to be difficult.  The first battle was getting her strapped into her car seat.  She's not only strong willed, she's physically strong and I have to hold her down to keep her in her seat long enough to buckle up.  She cried through the grocery store as I stoically picked up my last minute Thanksgiving items and place them in our cart.  Onlookers were staring and I know they were wondering what was wrong with my kid, or better yet, the mother who was allowing her to act this way in public.

Allow me to insert a disclaimer, something to make me feel better about her atrocious behavior:

She has been sick with an ear infection lately and the last two weeks have been touch and go in the mood department.  Maybe her ear is still bothering her?  Maybe she's under the weather, who knows?  Either way, the 'tude is unbearable.

I hesitated writing this because I can't bear to have readers think my sweet little girl does anything other than fart rainbows but I wanted to be real.  Being a mom is hard work.  It's a lot of guessing and hoping you get it right.  When do I walk away and let the fit happen, when do I intervene and offer the comfort that she's begging for?  Will any of my actions cost her thousands of dollars worth of therapy down the road?  Will I unknowingly enable my kid to a new level of brathood by coddling too much?   How is a mother supposed to know?  Why don't these kids come with a user manual?

As a kid I thought my parents had it all figured out.  They kept their cool in all situations, seemed to know how to lovingly put the fear in me so that I behaved in all circumstances.  Thing is, I was their first, their only, their guinea pig.  They had never handled any of these parenting situations before I came along but they parented with ease and grace and a wisdom that I pray for.

Parenting does make me depend on God in a whole new way.  He created Lakin.  He knows her  heart and what she needs.  Only His Spirit can change her.  She's sinful.  We all are.  But God is bigger than our sin.  I pray He will guide and lead as we navigate these uncharted waters of parenthood.  No user manual but He did give us His Word and His Holy Spirit.  I suppose those blow user manuals out of the water.

I leave you with a scene from Thanksgiving.  This was right before Lakin was sent to bed with no dinner.  The picture says it all.  (Don't worry, she filled up on crackers before the meal so she went down for a nap on a full, carb-loaded stomach.)


Despite her epic fit before dinner, it was a wonderful holiday with so much to be thankful for.  We spent it with Chris' parents and our Rochester "family."  We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such love.  I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with laughter and joy, like ours.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, yes. Parenting makes me so aware of how God loves me and cares for me even if I screw up so big. I will always love Daniel, even if he is not lovable, just as God loves me.

    I will tell you that it gets better at around 18 months. This phase now is called pre-toddler, and its rough. It was also rough around 24 months, and now he is 28 months and its great. Its like they have to get used to being a certain size/brain ability/verbal ability.

    You will not have this uncertainty when you have your second 15 month old - you'll have a game plan based on what you learned from your daughteR!

    Good luck, chin up, you can DO it!!! You are a middle school teacher. You can survive anything!

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  2. great post. Sorry Lakin is giving you trouble. Seems like you have a great perspective on it though. She sure is a cutie. Natalie has temper tantrums too. She went through a couple weeks of really rough tantrums, but then she learned to say a bunch more words and it seems like for the moment at least they have calmed down.
    You are also getting to be a great photographer!
    Miss you!

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