My 4 year old daughter has been described as ‘strong willed’, ‘determined’, ‘stubborn’, and ‘a real firecracker’! And those are just the phrases that have come out of my mouth about her, nevermind all the other people she has made an impression on in her 4 short years! The truth includes the fact that she is a little sweetheart; she loves to help in the kitchen, play with her sisters and read her books. She is carefree and silly and quite amenable in most situations … but when it comes to what she’s going to wear in a given day – a different version of my daughter often comes out! Out of all three of my girls, she is by far the most determined to engage in battle about her clothing choices. The funny thing is, and what she doesn’t yet know is that I can ‘out-stubborn’ her anyday. I make no apologies for not allowing her to wear a ballerina tutu dress to school to be torn to shreds in the playground. In light of this fun element of having a four year old, we usually choose her outfits the night before, and we talk about how in the morning she’s not going to throw a fit and give Mommy any trouble. When we do this she is typically happy to dress in her outfit of choice the next day. I am more than willing to sit and talk her through outfit negotiations when they arise, though rarely do I give in because the odd time that I have, she has not forgotten it!
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. When Daddy is on the scene in the morning, there is no careful discussion to guide her through her little meltdown about whichever outfit she is refusing to wear that day. It’s a simple ‘this is what you’re wearing, now please get dressed’ and away he walks leaving Avery in a puddle of tears and despair on the floor.
Typically my Mommy heart softens when Daddy is the one shattering her dreams regarding outfit selection. When I am not the one involved in the confrontation it is much easier for me to feel sad that she has gotten so upset and I am not there to comfort her and talk her through it. But, on certain days, I just cannot do it one more time. I can’t have this conversation one more time. I can’t deal with the proverbial tug of war one more time. I just need to not be the one dealing with it that day. In those moments I am thankful for a thoughtful, caring husband who is more than willing to step in when he knows that I’ve just had enough.
Can I be honest though? I hate those moments. I beat myself up in those moments and feel discouraged with myself. Why don’t I have the energy to deal with another meltdown? Why can’t I muster up the strength to control my temper when the kids won’t do as I’ve told them? Why do I come to the end of some days and feel like I’ve failed those precious girls?
The reason is because I am just one human Mom trying to be everything I can be for my daughters. And, without God I cannot do it. My husband & I cannot do it. We need the wisdom and guidance of our ever-loving Father. We need strength and forgiveness and grace that abounds only when we seek Him and entrust our children to Him.
I’m just 9 years into this parenting thing … I try now to remember that guilt will get me nowhere, but prayer will get me everywhere. At the end of those rough days … you know the ones, seek Him first. He will be great at reminding you that you are doing a fantastic job and that He’s got it all under control. Once you’ve done that, take a deep breath and go take a bubble bath!