I am currently parenting a toddler. Sometimes it is super fun: she dances like a maniac, is constantly learning new words, and LOVES washing dishes. Sometimes it is super hard: she is starting to really vent her frustration by throwing things and sometimes even hitting.
What I am realizing is that when parenting is super hard, my mind fills with what feels like hundreds of thoughts. "Why is she doing this?" "Is there something I'm doing that is making this worse?" "I don't know what to do." "Can she tell I don't really know what to do?" "Is that why she's acting like this, because she knows I don't know what to do?" "How am I supposed to figure this out?" "What if I can't figure out how to deal with this?" "What if she grows up with these horrible habits because I didn't know how to curb them?" I don't think all of these thoughts each time she defies me, this is just a sampling of the things that have crossed my mind.
Perhaps my quest for parenting-in-awareness has trained my brain to go too far. I'm left wondering - What would my life be like without my own narrative?
Am I making my own life harder than it has to be by the way I frame situations? I'm sure the answer is yes. Forever trying to make connections, my brain betrays me. I wonder, "how do I stop?" I know I can't stop framing my life in words, but what if I just change the frame. What if I can simply slow the flow of thoughts and questions, and what if the general tone was simply more positive over-all? How would that change how I live?
I would probably feel less stressed. I would probably feel more confident. I would probably be a nicer person (mom). I would probably be more at peace.
I don't know. And maybe, as a tiny, tiny baby step I will just accept that. I don't know, and that's ok.
As one can easily surmise from my last post, bedtimes (and nap times) in the Wadley household have been a source of dread. For two weeks it would take anywhere from an hour to nearly two hours to get our little cherub to go to sleep. Every. Single. Time.
Nothing has seemed to work - drop a nap, shorten the last nap, run her ragged at the park, all to no avail. I have been so discouraged.
Apparently, up until now, I thought that becoming a mother would bring with it a special insight for every situation your child could find themselves in. Maybe it does. Maybe I'm the only one, but I have come to the realization that (in this situation) I have no idea what is best. It has been a relief to finally say it. I prayed it, I can't tell you how many times.
On Sunday, I hit my limit. I hate to use the word "despair" because it sounds so severe, but friend, I was on the precipice. What I found especially infuriating is my firm belief that this child was given to me for a short time, that I am her steward, that I am responsible for her - this is coupled with the knowledge that God does not give me more than I can handle (and he certainly wouldn't give me a child I am not capable of parenting) was driving me nuts. I know there is a way to find out what to do. God wouldn't just leave our family in the lurch like that.
While listening to my dear little one simultaneously fuss and roar at a stuffed animal 65 minutes after I had first put her down, I remembered a verse about "the beginning of wisdom." Naturally I couldn't remember the most important part of the scripture so I whipped out my bible and flipped my little concordance to "wisdom." There it was: in two places, no less. Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." In addition to a starting place, I found two more verses that have become very meaningful to me - one is I Kings 3:9 where Solomon doesn't know how to lead his people and pleads with God for wisdom. I figure, hey, things turned out alright for Solomon. He seemed not to have had any more of an idea what to do than I do now.
I would like you to know that sleep deprivation has not set in to the point where I fancy myself a modern-day Solomon. I'm just taking the similarities and running with them.
The second verse is James 1:5:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him."
This has become very special to me. Not only will I be given the wisdom and discernment that I request, it will come from a joyful Giver. Additionally, the gift will not be accompanied with "Katie, you should really know this by now." You can't know what a relief that is to my soul! Anyone who knows me knows I do not do well with chastisement. I will avoid conversations for ridiculous periods of time if I think there is any possibility that I am going to be reprimanded. In my vanity I do the same thing with the King of the Universe... as if he has to wait for me to start a conversation in order to correct me. It kind of makes me laugh, but I really needed to hear that. I don't need to try to take care of things on my own because I'm going to get in trouble for not having it together.
After finding this assurance I hit the books internet hard. I read articles and studies and everything I could think of that could help me institute order into our lives. I learned a lot about sleep habits and schedules and routines and I know that the only reason I found the vigor in my tired self to do it is because of the assurance I received. That 20 minute investment into prayer and quiet (and crying) was well worth it.
Its been a whopping three days since my lightbulb came on. My little girl is on a routine, along with the rest of us. It isn't perfect, but it is a place to start. I know it will need tweaking and we will all need time to adjust, but remembering how much grace there is for me helps me to be gracious to Evie when things don't go as I hope/plan.
I'm writing this post for me. Something tells me there may be times that I will momentarily forget this epiphany. Isn't it funny how that happens? Today it is so fresh and meaningful, but over the course of a week or a month I run the risk of forgetting... It gets less shiny.
My last note to me: You are not doing yourself or your family any service by giving up a quiet time to do the dishes, vacuum, fold laundry or pump. Those things will wait, but you desperately need your sanity, peace of mind, and resolve on a daily basis.
"...in everything submit by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
- Phillipians 4:6 & 7
As soon as I round her doorway the screaming stops and turns into roaring. Not angry roaring, lion roaring. At this phase, every animal roars. Dogs, frogs, ducks, no exceptions. There she is, jumping up and down in her crib and excitedly roaring at me.
My heart is a mix of absolute delight in this vivacious little creature and sheer frustration. On the good days its a 50-50 mix. On the not-so-good days... let's just say there is an obvious winner.
I wish I could tell you that this scenario doesn't happen often. I mean, I could tell you that, but it would make me a liar.
I love my girl so much. I love who she is: energetic, persistent, adventurous, engaging, independent, assertive, caring, and observant. Who she is also has the potential to drive me stark raving mad.
I don't know why I feel the need to tell this little tale. I'm sure it's nothing notable, but it drives me to the edge (of what, I don't know exactly).
Since my last post, Evelyn (or Evie) has learned to roll, sit, crawl, walk, run, climb, speak, and all sorts of other wonderful things. I've not been very at all faithful to document those firsts electronically. I promise, she does have a baby book! I have been much more disciplined about making notes there. Here's my news though: I'm going to try again. This time arund I'm writing for me. I need an outlet and the great, big void that is the interweb seems like the perfect place. I doubt anyone will read my unedited rantings (which is okay by me).