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.)