But there is hope.
I found a name for Aviana’s personality when she was about 9 months old. I cried almost all the way through the book I stumbled upon in the library (thank you God for that stumble!)–to know what we were going through had a name, to know we weren’t alone, to know what I was experiencing was real–that sense of relief, and discovery can to this day bring tears to my eyes!
My Sweet Baby A is busy, demanding, high-strung, exhausting, spunky, energetic, stubborn, impatient,obstinate, discerning, compassionate, challenging, expressive, draining, opinionated, prone to argue, persistent, tantrum-prone, tender and snuggable. To say the least.
Overall, we are thriving. Overall, we are having a good time. Overall, we are learning and growing and stretching. Overall.
But last week was one of those weeks when every. single. blessed. thing. was a Battle. She started arguing with me from the second we were up in the morning about which spoon she wanted, which chair she wanted, how much milk she wanted, what color lid she wanted, on and on and on, and didn’t quit until well after bedtime, when she would be asking for one more verse or crying because I wouldn’t give in on rocking her. All. Day. Long. Every. Day. All. Day.
On top of all the little Battles all the live long day, she made at least one huge “naughty” every day last week as well. From spooning out all of my expensive “Dead Sea Salt Mineral Treatment for hands and feet” into the sink, and down the drain while I was out hanging up clothes, or throwing her entire bin of Lincoln Logs down the stairs along with several other toys while I’m on the phone with my midwife in the kitchen, then refusing to pick them up, Miss Aviana was in rare form. Not to mention she started lying to me, crying whenever she didn’t get her way (I regularly heard, “I dist want what I want, and I want it wite now!!”), whining when she asked for something, basically everything else I could imagine to make her even harder to deal with.
I go for creative correction along with the more traditional methods. I mix it up. I keep my patience, generally. I make sure she eats right. I make sure she gets enough sleep. I pray over her, for her and with her. We do memory verses, like “Obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20), “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Phillippians 2:14a and “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained up by it.” (Hebrews 12:11). I exhaust myself trying to find a balance between giving her the independence she is pushing for so desperately, establishing and maintaining my authority, and choosing which battles are important to me.
I know I am doing my best. And yet after last week, I still feel like it’s all my fault.
If only I would do it exactly right, she wouldn’t be acting like this colossal brat. I know that isn’t true, but it is hard to get away from that feeling.
I know my limits. We were going to go on a vacation while Kevin is working these long hours, down to St. Louis and Springfield, MO to see my SIL and aunt and uncle. I just thought getting a change of pace and new people around would be beneficial. But I canceled our trip.
I couldn’t bear the thought of facing these battles in someone else’s house.
I was going to go out to brunch with my family and in-laws for Mother’s Day. Instead, I had Kevin take the girls, and I stayed home and slept.
I was going to have this parenting thing down pat by now. But, I choose to be realistic.
I chose to take a break from my child before I threw her out the window. I chose to accept help and let her stay over at her grandma’s, I chose to not play martyr and let Grandma take Brielle the next day so Aviana and I could reestablish a bond and our amazing relationship.
I chose to try again.
Even though I was crying every time I thought about Aviana and some incident from the rough week we had. Even though I was so tired of her, I didn’t care if she ever came home. Even though I was literally at my wit’s end.
I chose love. Monday we just spent the day together, working in the yard, splashing in puddles, making brownies, reading, nuzzling, talking, playing. Still correcting, still disciplining, but without Brielle there to compete for attention.
When she asked me if she could jump in a puddle, I said, “You’d better go get your boots on; you’ll get your shoes and socks all wet.” She just said, “Otay Mama!” and ran to change footwear.
When she was ‘doing dishes’, I said, “That’s enough water now.” She just said, “Otay Mama!” and shut off the water.
When I asked her to pick up her toys she was finished playing with, she just said, “Otay Mama!” and did it!
It was huge.
I love my Sweet Baby A. Even when it’s tough. I love being her mama. I love knowing God will stretch me. I hate the parts that get me to the other side, but when I can look back and know it’s for the best, I love it.