If you were to walk around my house, looking at the walls, you might notice that at about the two foot mark, there are wet spots in all the corners. More precisely, tear stains. Little girls do not like standing in the corner. But still, we make them stand there. To stop the screaming. To stop the hitting. To stop the whining. To stop us all from going crazy.
I'm not sure what I expected when we got into this parenting gig. I think my pre-kid days included half-formed thoughts that if you did A or B or C, then you could expect certain results to yield themselves. That I would have some measure of control over the way my children behave.
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
That was silly of me. And also prideful. I've said it before, I will say it again, God clearly knew that I needed more humility in my life. It currently comes in the form of the two girls that he has entrusted to our care.
Christmas break has been a doozy. Especially with Bella. Her bruised forehead bears the evidence that she put there herself of all her head-banging. (which often happens in the tear-stained corners.) The past two nights, she has awoken and screamed for no discernible reason. Lots of screaming - like for 30 minutes or an hour at a time in the middle of the night. The first night I went in and tried to calm her down. There is no reasoning with anyone at 3:30 a.m., but especially not with Bella. In the end, we turned off the monitor and let her scream herself out, which we could still hear, even across the house. I often wonder at how she doesn't lose her voice, and then I wish that she would, though that would be really pitiful. (And then I wonder if I am a bad parent for wishing such a thing.)
Then, there are the mind games I play with myself. I wonder things like, "Is my child more extreme than other kids their age?" It's like I want to believe that my kids are harder than other people's children so I can pat myself on the back for getting through the day with the burden that is having really strong-willed children. As if I get a badge to wear around that other parents can't understand, because really, their kid can't be that hard, or maybe they just aren't doing it right. It is amazing the thoughts that come unbidden into my mind and how hard it sometimes is to sort out the truth and the good from the utter rubbish.
The reality is, it doesn't matter. Comparing my kids to the experiences that other people have is no good. And, since we all are equipped differently and have different resources and situations, there is no way to do a fair comparison. I need to get off the parent martyr-train and ask God for help with my own situation, while learning from others instead of comparing.
Since this is the second time we have gone down the road of strong-will, we have a little more hope than we did when Lily was this age. We can look ahead and see that Lily is a much easier child already - she still has intensity, but it has leveled out and can be channelled. But, that doesn't mean it isn't hard. It doesn't mean that we aren't questioning ourselves and every parenting decision we have ever made in the wee hours of the morning.
To be really honest, it has made us apprehensive about bringing home two children younger than Bella. We are not super parents, and we have limits, as all people do. Being pushed towards the edges of those limits is never pleasant, and it makes us wonder how we will respond when there are four children, instead of two.
I can only hope and pray that God's grace will continue to be expanded in our lives, especially as we parent our children and bring more into our home. We believe he put us on this path, and that he will continue to equip us for the work that he has for us. Shaping little lives is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I am thankful for the privilege that it is. It also certainly comes with the best rewards, in the forms of hugs and kisses and giggles. And love and joy. It is more than worth it.